Lauren McNeil and Nicolas Reitsma with their awards (Photo - Conan Shing Photography)

Lauren McNeil and Nicolas Reitsma with their awards (Photo - Conan Shing Photography)

UBCO’s McNeil, Reitsma take home Athlete of the Year awards

This was the first in-person banquet since 2019

The University of British Columbia Okanagan announced their Outstanding Athletes of the Year at their annual Athletic Banquet on April 11.

Rookie cross-country runner Lauren McNeil and fourth-year men’s soccer goalkeeper Nicolas Reitsma were the recipients of the award.

McNeil is the second cross-country runner in school history to win the award. The exchange student from Buxton, England also made school history by winning the Female Athlete of the Year, becoming the first athlete to win both awards.

“It’s really amazing,” said McNeil. “It still doesn’t feel very real but it’s just been an amazing experience. I’m so glad that I’ve had the opportunity to come here and be part of the team. It’s been amazing running with such an amazing team, everyone has just been so supportive and so friendly.”

McNeil earlier in the year was named the U SPORTS Rookie of the Year and a U SPORTS All-Canadian for her great season. She won two Canada West races and came second in the Canada West Championships and the U SPORTS National Championships.

Reitsma is the second consecutive member of the men’s soccer team to win the award.

“It means a lot winning this award,” said Reitsma. “I couldn’t do any of this without my teammates, without [head coach] Dante [Zanatta], without [lead assistant coach] Tom [Flanagan], without the keepers that have been here before me. I remember in my second year, Mitch McCaw, who was the keeper in front of me, won this award and I was always hoping one day I could be that inspiration for one of the younger guys coming up.”

The Kelowna native earned three shutouts in 12 starts this season, and finished second in saves in Canada West with 44. He become the fifth member in Heat soccer history to be named a conference all-star.

Both McNeil and Reitsma also received a $1,000 prize from the Coast Capri Hotel.

This was the first in-person athletic banquet UBCO has been able to host since 2019.

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