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The 17-year-old lacrosse star was named 2016 Orillia Athlete of the Year Monday night

By Patrick Bales, The Orillia Packet & Times

PATRICK BALES/THE PACKET & TIMES
Quintin Hoch-Bullen, second from the left, has been named Orillia's Athlete of the Year for 2016. Presenting the award to her are, from left to right, Mayor Steve Clarke, Coun. Ralph Cipolla, sport program supervisor Chris Gammon and Coun. Jeff Clark.

PATRICK BALES/THE PACKET & TIMES Quintin Hoch-Bullen, second from the left, has been named Orillia's Athlete of the Year for 2016. Presenting the award to her are, from left to right, Mayor Steve Clarke, Coun. Ralph Cipolla, sport program supervisor Chris Gammon and Coun. Jeff Clark.

Quintin Hoch-Bullen's competitive streak doesn't just show up on the field.

Monday night, she wanted to hear her name called. The star lacrosse player, committed to attend the University of Denver next year so she can follow her dream of playing elite level field lacrosse in the United States, was anxious in the moments before the 2016 Orillia Athlete of the Year was announced.

"I've been working hard this past year. I transferred schools to focus on lacrosse and get ready for university," Hoch-Bullen said after being named the winner. "I was hoping it was going to be me."

But the 17-year-old was humbled by the honour, surrounded by two other strong nominees in Owen Kaczanowski and Jasmin Aggarwal.

"I feel pretty honoured and grateful to get the award," she said. "I know the other two candidates are just as worthy as I was. But I was pretty excited once they called my name."

Hoch-Bullen has been playing field lacrosse since 2009, with the past year being one of her most successful. First, she helped Orillia Secondary School win a silver medal at OFSAA, and later in the summer, she was a key contributor to the undefeated Orillia Lady Kings U19 squad.

It was her performance in the gold-medal game of the provincial championship - against arch-rival Oshawa - that stood out to Heather Reda, the vice-president of the Lady Kings program who nominated Hoch-Bullen for athlete of the year.

"We were down and Oshawa, they were all but popping the champagne, with a 5-2 lead," Reda recalled. "She single handedly took control of that game. With her natural talent, but also a calmness. She would gather the team in and say, 'okay guys, we can do this.'"

Reda first noticed Hoch-Bullen as a member of the U11 team, impressed by the natural athlete that developed in front of her eyes. Hoch-Bullen's parents encouraged their daughter's athletic pursuits as she grew up, watching her excel at just about everything she tried.

"We're a pretty sporting family," said Terry Bullen, her father. "Right from the beginning, she did everything. She's a very good athlete, so right away, she'd be good at gymnastics, she'd be good a volleyball, basketball."

Bullen was his daughter's first lacrosse coach, and credited the number of parents who bring their daughters into the sport in Orillia as one of the reasons the program - and its athletes - are so successful.

Waiting for the winner to be announced was both exciting and nerve-racking for her parents, who are thrilled about their daughter's accomplishments and hopeful for what the future holds.

"We're incredibly proud," said Cory Hoch, her mother. "She's really spent a lot of time doing what needs to be done and it's paid off. She's excelling at her sport and she loves it."

The athlete of the year is chosen by a 10-member panel of local judges. The award was first presented in 1952 after Norm Davis created a trophy for the honour. Past winners include Walter Henry, Bill Watters, Brian Orser, Jerry Udell and Ethan Moreau.

-- With files from Dave Dawson

pbales@postmedia.com

twitter.com/patrickbales



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