Gilligan named Cornwall 2018 top sports personality

Melissa Gilligan celebrates with the Jacques Richard trophy after being named the 2018 top sports personality of the year on Wednesday, May 9, 2018. Gilligan excelled in basketball and soccer while studying at Algonquin College in Ottawa. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – Excelling in one sport takes a lot of work but this year’s Cornwall top sports personality has been recognized for her efforts in two sports – soccer and basketball.

Melissa Gilligan was awarded the Jacques Richard trophy during the 54th Benson Cornwall Lions Club Sports Awards Dinner at the Best Western Parkway Inn on Wednesday night.

“It feels amazing. I actually just came here because I thought my dad had won the award so it was a little nerve wracking once they called by name but it’s very awesome to receive an award like that,” Gilligan told Cornwall Newswatch.

Gilligan, 19, had been studying Police Foundations at Algonquin College in Ottawa but says she plans to change to Child and Youth Studies next year. “I’m going to switch up what I’m doing but most likely going to play sports again.” While studying, she’s also had a banner year in varsity sports.

In soccer, she led the Thunder to a perfect 12-0 record and a bronze medal finish at the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association Championship. In basketball, as a walk on, she was named the Ontario Women’s Basketball East Division Rookie of the Year. She was also named to the OCAA All-Rookie Team.

Even though she’s excelled as an athlete, she also credits the teams she plays with for her accomplishments.

“It feels amazing but I wouldn’t be where I am today without the teammates that I have. So, with their support, they push me to do better things and they push me along the way to do better,” Gilligan said.

Sydney Seymour, a 17-year-old rugby player at St. Joseph’s Catholic Secondary School, received the Joe Assaly award as the top junior.

The guest speaker for the dinner was 30-year-old Cornwall boxer Tony Luis, who spoke about his challenges growing up and telling the audience to chasing your dreams and never give up.

The Cornwall Lions Club also gave out cheques to a number of sports groups: $1,500 to the Cornwall and United Counties Basketball Association (CUCBA), $500 to Champs Eastside Boxing Club, $500 to Cornwall Claymores rugby and $500 to the Cornwall Vikings Volleyball Club.