UOIT Ridgebacks veteran and this year’s athletic academic award winner, Jill Morillo, and back-to-back winner, Nik Vantfoort, have been named male and female athlete of the year.
UOIT hosted the eighth annual Ridgebacks Athletic Banquet on March 27 at the General W. Sikorski Polish Veterans Association Hall in Oshawa.Athletes were honoured for their athletic accomplishments throughout the year.
Over the course of the night, awards were presented to students participating in dance, rowing, curling, hockey, tennis, golf, soccer and lacrosse.
Morillo is a fifth-year student from Whitby. On top of leading the Ridgebacks women’s hockey team as captain, she is majoring in nuclear engineering and management.
She also earned an all-academic award for her studies.
Morillo finished her final season on the Ridgebacks with 14 goals and 10 assists and is the only Ridgeback in history to earn more than 100 points.
Morillo was also recognized at this year’s banquet with an award for leadership in women’s hockey, and was also acknowledged for competing with the Ridgebacks for five seasons.
Now that she is graduating, Morillo is excited for what is next in her hockey career.
“I love the sport,” she said. “Whether I’m a coach or a player, as long as I’m participating and being active.”
Vantfoort, on the other hand, still has at least another year at UOIT.
“It’s an awesome family,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing the school grow.”
This is the second year in a row that Vantfoort has been awarded the athlete of the year title for his success with the men’s rowing team.
The third year energy systems engineering student from London, Ont. finished the season in the top 10 at Nationals in doubles races with partner Brett Bullock, who was also honoured at the banquet.
Vantfoort has had the opportunity to represent Ontario at the Canada Summer Games, managing to take a way both a gold and silver medal. Both athletes agree that hard work has contributed to their success. “Work hard and be persistent in your commitment. Some days are tough, and some days you want to give up, but always enjoy it,” advises Morillo. Vantfoort added, “Make sure you’re doing something you love.”