Laura Sides Watson was an accomplished student athlete at both the Academy and College and has channeled her lifelong love of sport into marathon running and raising thousands of dollars for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Watson was a three-year letter winner in field hockey and soccer during her years at Salem Academy. She served as basketball team manager from 1992–1994 and received the Most Improved Player award for soccer in 1992 and the Most Valuable Player award in 1994. In addition, Watson received the Coach’s Award for field hockey in 1993. She was president of the Athletic Council and received the Zanne Meade Memorial Sportsmanship Award during her senior year.
Watson was recruited and played field hockey for Bucknell University but transferred to Salem College for her sophomore year. At Salem College she played three years of field hockey and soccer. During college, Watson coached JV and varsity field hockey at Salem Academy. She graduated from Salem College in 1999 with a BS degree in Spanish.
At the age of 11, Watson was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes. After moving to Orlando, Florida in 2001, she became involved with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) and organized a team of teachers from the school to participate in local JDRF walks. In 2010, Watson ran her first marathon at North Carolina’s Outer Banks and after finishing was inspired to participate in future marathons with added meaning by fundraising for JDRF.
In 2011, Watson joined Team JDRF, an organization comprised of athletes who fundraise and participate in endurance events such as marathons and triathlons. To date, Watson has completed five marathons: OBX 2010, NYC 2011 and 2013, Space Coast Marathon in Florida in 2014 and Chicago in 2015. She also has completed 11 half marathons. Since 2010, Watson has raised more than $30,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Watson has served on the Salem Academy Alumnae Board, the Salem Academy and College Board of Trustees and the Triad JDRF Board of Directors. She and her husband Mark live in Winston-Salem with their cat, Rui.