OSHAWA, Ont. – For the first time in school history, the UOIT athletic department is honouring two student-athletes for their accomplishments throughout their varsity career.
Nathan Spaling (Drayton, Ont.) and Jill Morillo (Whitby, Ont.) will have their numbers honoured during alumni weekend February 3-4 at the Campus Ice Centre.
“We are thrilled and honoured to be recognizing Nathan and Jill’s sensational hockey careers at UOIT,” said Scott Barker, manager of intercollegiate athletics. “They were both the complete package when it comes to being a student-athlete. They accomplished so much academically and athletically throughout their university career and have gone on to do great things following graduation. It will be a special weekend at the Campus Ice Centre as we honour two of the all-time greats.”
Morillo finished he career as UOIT’s all-time leading scorer with 64 goals and 47 assists in 130 OUA conference games played. She is the only two-time winner of UOIT’s female athlete of the year award taking home the honour in 2012 and 2014 and was named the female freshman athlete of the year in 2009.
“It is an honour that I find difficult to put into words,” said Morillo. “I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to represent UOIT on the ice and receive a high quality education that prepared me for the future. I owe so much to this school, my teammates and coaches for providing me with such a memorable five years.”
The graduate of the nuclear engineering management program put UOIT in the national spotlight being the first student-athlete to be named a CIS all-Canadian (2011). That same year she was named the recipient of the CIS Marion Hilliard Award, which celebrates excellence in athletics, academics and community involvement. In the classroom, she was a two-time CIS academic all-Canadian and four-time UOIT academic award winner.
“Having the opportunity to create a foundation for UOIT athletics and be a part of program firsts was something very special,” said Morillo. “The growth that the program made each year was remarkable to see.”
Morillo’s number 12 will be honoured prior to UOIT’s game against the Brock Badgers on Friday, February 3 at 7:30 p.m.
Spaling joined the Ridgebacks for the men’s hockey team’s inaugural season in 2007-08 and grew into one of the top players and leaders in program history. In four seasons with the Ridgebacks he appeared in 112 conference games and scored 30 goals and 61 assists.
The criminology and justice studies major won the UOIT male athlete of the year award in back-to-back seasons (2010 and 2011) as well as earning the top GPA of any UOIT student-athlete twice (2009 and 2010). He was also the first Ridgeback to earn three CIS academic all-Canadian awards.
“To say that my time at UOIT has changed my life, would be an understatement,” said Spaling. “I owe so much to this school, the hockey program and especially my teammates for helping me achieve such significant personal growth. To now be recognized in this way means so much.”
Being a leader on and off the ice, Spaling was the recipient of the James-Baun Cup for the first times it was awarded. The cup is presented to a student on the school’s Ridgeback hockey team that showcase academic responsibility, leadership and being a great teammate while in the pursuit of excellence.
He was also the first UOIT student-athlete to be nominated for a major national honour as he was the OUA’s nominee for the 2011 Randy Gregg award. The Randy Gregg Award is annually given to the player who best exhibits outstanding achievement in hockey, academics and community involvement.
Spaling’s number 11 will be honoured prior to the Ridgebacks game on Saturday, February 4 at the Campus Ice Centre. Puck drop against the Queen’s Gaels is 3:30 p.m.