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Student Athlete Pitches In With Volunteer Work

Men’s soccer player Francesco Bartolillo is determined to make a difference on the pitch, in the classroom and in the community. The fourth-year striker and business major tied for the team lead in goals and assists this past season, was an Academic All-Canadian and took on a leadership role in a student-led cancer fundraising effort.

August 24, 2017
 Francesco Bartolillo
Francesco Bartolillo gets by a defender in a game against UBC-Okanagan

University of Northern British Columbia men’s soccer player Francesco Bartolillo is determined to make a difference on the pitch, in the classroom and in the community.

The fourth-year striker and business major tied for the team lead in goals and assists this past season, was an Academic All-Canadian and took on a leadership role in a student-led cancer fundraising effort.

He is proud of all he has accomplished, but he is also grateful for the support he has received through donor-funded scholarships, which make it easier for him to juggle all of his activities.

“Student athletes have so many commitments, including training, keeping up with our studies and being leaders in the community,” Bartolillo says. “Having the financial support from donors gives me the opportunity to concentrate on all of those activities. It’s a huge help."

Bartolillo has excelled since moving from Calgary to join the Timberwolves in 2014. He scored two goals in his first season and was named Timberwolves rookie of the year. He matched that two-goal effort the following season and took home male athlete of the year honours.

This past season was a breakout year as Bartolillo notched five goals and four assists in 2016, including his first career USports hat trick against the University of Victoria. Bartolillo’s exploits, along with those of his teammates, lifted the Timberwolves to the team’s best-ever finish.

The success on the pitch is rewarding, but Bartolillo also finds the charitable work he is involved with just as gratifying. This year he became the first ever recipient of the KJM Sales Timberwolf Award which will be given annually to the student-athlete who best exemplifies excellence in athletics, in the classroom, and in the community.

Through his work with the Commerce Student Society (CSS), Bartolillo spearheaded the effort to raise funds to both help the family of childhood cancer survivor Olivia Frost and support research into childhood cancer treatments through the Canadian Cancer Society. Olivia was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia when she was four years old and a year later, she is receiving most of her treatment at home, but still requires regular visits to Vancouver.

“It was definitely an eye-opening experience,” Bartolillo says. “It makes you realize there are bigger things in life, and people are facing massive challenges every day.”

Olivia’s parents Nathan and Amanda, both UNBC alumni, were overwhelmed by the initiative.

Bartolillo credited the donor support he received himself with giving him the opportunity to pursue his own charitable work and he sees that same commitment to the community among the other student-athletes at UNBC.

“We have upwards of 70 student athletes putting in countless hours in the community, whether it’s coaching at camps, helping with Special Olympics or volunteering their time to other important causes,” he says. “They are all having an unbelievable impact on our community.”

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