UOIT athlete wins Community Service Award

Playing her favourite sport on the field is one thing, but volunteering at local soup kitchens and coaching young children for the Oshawa Turul soccer club is another. Somehow, Jessica Mithrush, 20, manages to do both.

The mid-fielder of the UOIT Ridgebacks is able to put on a cheek-to-cheek smile every day while going to class, playing for an elite soccer team in the country, and ensuring she is giving back to the local municipality.

Mithrush, a third year nursing student, was recently awarded the East Division Community Service Award before the ending of the 2014 season for the UOIT Ridgebacks.

“It’s definitely a big honour,” said Mithrush. “It shows that we’re not just a sports team because we are giving back to the community.”

The whole athletic department at UOIT and Durham College is proud of her. Manager of intercollegiate athletics at UOIT, Scott Barker says Mithrush deserves the recognition for her work around the local community.

“She’s from Thunder Bay and yet she’s doing a tremendous amount in the Durham Region community,” said Barker. “It’s great to see, and you certainly want to harness the energies and the time that she puts into giving back to the community and really show that to other student athletes that this is a real important part of going to university and being a student athlete.”

Mithrush has been contributing to the community since she entered first year. Mithrush and her fellow Ridgeback teammates ran a free soccer camp for inner city children at the Civic Recreation Complex in Oshawa, and volunteered at a local soup kitchen too.

She explained her teammates enjoy doing this as much as she does.

“A lot of them enjoy it,” said Mithrush. “It allows us to get out in the community and help out.”

Mithrush gets a sense of satisfaction every time she contributes to her community, and it’s something that led her into studying nursing at UOIT.

“I just like helping out, I’ve always had that in me,” said Mithrush. “I think that’s why I’ve gone into nursing because I like the reward of knowing that I’ve helped someone out.”

Not only does Mithrush give back to people who don’t have the luxuries of a middle class, she coaches house league soccer for the Oshawa Turul soccer club in the offseason.

“I wanted to do something with soccer because it’s my passion,” said Mithrush. “It’s nice to give back with something that I love.”

She runs development practices for the four-to-six and eight-to-ten year old programs with the Turul. Mithrush says the importance for the kids to succeed, is to let them play.

“The younger kids we let them play,” said Mithrush. “When they get older, we are able to run technical sessions with them.”

Mithrush’s passion for soccer inspires her to do more for her community, and she hopes to become a coach in the future.

“I think when I’m done playing, I don’t think I’ll be able to give up the game,” said Mithrush. “So definitely coaching would be an option.”

Along with becoming a coach, Mithrush also wants to volunteer and help the less fortunate in her future.

“I’ve always wanted to volunteer my time,” said Mithrush. “It’s just instilled in me that it’s something I like doing, so I’m going to keep doing it.”

She has been doing this volunteer work in Oshawa since becoming a student here at UOIT, and the mixture of soccer and giving back to the local community gives her a feeling of satisfaction.
“Being able to teach the kids the sport we love, like soccer, it feels good,” said Mithrush.

Mithrush combined her love for soccer and giving back to the community, resulting in ultimate satisfaction for the student athlete.

“It’s very rewarding,” said Mitrush.