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New council looking to increase Ridgebacks role in the community

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

Nick Vanfoort wants to see a culture of pride permeating throughout UOIT.

Vanfoort is the first president of the school’s newly established Ridgeback Leadership Council that has been tasked with a mandate of increasing athlete engagement and community involvement and developing leadership at the university.

“We want to bridge the whole Ridgeback athletic community together.”

The council features representation from every team on campus and will be also be working closely with captains, coaches and UOIT’s athletic department.
VP of community outreach Abigail Kawalec, VP of athlete engagement Mike Robinson, VP of engagement Cassandra Sribny and VP of communications Hafsah Hoda join Vanfoort on the council’s executive.

In the past, UOIT teams have generally handled their own specific initiatives, and while Vanfoort says that will continue on some level, the council is looking to develop a more concentrated effort.

“If we can bring all the Ridgebacks together, create that pride and then spread it among the community, we’ll be able to let the people know what we are all about,” Vanfoort stated.

A member of UOIT’s rowing team, Vanfoort says there are many great things going on at the university, and he and his colleagues want to share those stories.

“I’ve been a Ridgeback for seven years now and we’ve had some real success stories. I think it will be better for my experience and other students if we were able to support these initiatives.”

Community outreach will ideally see more varsity athletes volunteer in schools within the community, fundraise for worthwhile causes and promote team event games such as Pink in the Rink and Bell Let’s Talk, Vanfoort says.

Athletes will have many opportunities to get involved with their school through the RB4RB program that facilitates intra-team bonding, the Student-Athlete Mental Health Initiative and attending Ridgeback Nights.

Vanfoort says they are also looking to build interest in athletics throughout the student

population and bring more people out to games.

“I’m looking forward to what we can do to build pride on campus and create stronger

bonds in terms of community outreach.”