Polidori named Sportsman of the Year

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As a young softball player in Brantford, Erika Polidori attended Brantford Sports Council banquets and was impressed by the winners of the Frank Tomlin Memorial Award given to Brantford Sportsman of the Year.

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Now a bronze medalist with Canada at the 2021 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Polidori, 30, joined those she admired as this year’s Tomlin Prize winner.

“It’s something that I always thought was the coolest thing,” she said of the Sportsman of the Year award.

“I was a fan of the athletes who won the award…. It’s amazing how many great athletes come out of Brantford.

She said she never thought she would win the Tomlin.

“So when I heard the news, I was really touched and shocked,” said Polidori, who works as a registered nurse when she’s not playing softball. “It’s such an honor.”

Polidori, who received his award Saturday at the 16th annual Brantford Sports Council awards banquet at the Sanderson Centre, joins past winners including hockey great Wayne Gretzky, runners Kevin Sullivan and Krista DuChene, swimmer Julie Howard , golfer David Hearn and last year’s recipient figure skating coach Alison Purkiss.

Polidori played her minor softball with the Brantford Bobcats, winning several provincial and national championships with her teammates.

A graduate of St. John’s College and the NCAA University of Oakland, Polidori has been a member of Canada’s national softball team since 2013. In 2015, she led Team Canada with a .455 batting average at the Games Toronto Pan Americans, contributing to the team’s success. gold medal against the United States.

With her sights firmly set on the Olympics, Polidori’s dream came true when she and her teammates competed in China and won bronze medals.

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“I’m really proud of how our team and program handled adversity and how I handled it individually.”

Polidori noted that it was difficult not having his family and supporters able to be in Beijing due to COVID-19 protocols.

“It wasn’t easy doing the things that needed to be done to be successful at the Olympic level. It was never the trip we expected. But it was almost better in a way because of what we were able to accomplish despite all the obstacles.

Polidori said she was encouraged by the reaction from her hometown.

“They really supported the Olympics and supported me,” she said.

“It was really cool to come home and see people and have that connection with them in person because I missed that for a while.”

The sport of softball is not on the schedule for the 2024 Olympics in Paris, so Polidori said finding motivation can be difficult. However, she knew she wanted to continue performing after Beijing.

“I just felt like I wasn’t quite done. I have more to give to sport. And I want to challenge myself more and continue to grow as an athlete and a person.

After a short hiatus from softball, Polidori and the team members attended a 10-day camp at Florida State University, where new Canadian women’s coach Kaleigh Rafter is coaching for the NCAA school.

Polidori is thrilled to see Rafter, a Team Canada player since 2007, take over from Mark Smith, who retired after Beijing.

“I think it’s great,” she said. “I couldn’t be happier for her and the program. She was a great leader for us as a player and it makes perfect sense for her to step into that role now.

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Canada will compete at the Canada Cup in Surrey, BC from June 20-26, the World Cup/World Games in Birmingham, Alabama from July 9-13, and the WBSC Pan Am Americas Championship , the dates and location of which have yet to be determined.

Polidori said she wanted to build on the momentum gained in softball from her exposure at the Olympics.

“I want the next generation of young girls to be able to compete, grow and be part of a great program,” she said.

“I want the sport to continue to grow. And I feel like as an older player who’s had a lot of different experiences, I want to stick around and guide the next group through the rest of the program.

Polidori said her family and many friends are to be congratulated for the success she has achieved.

“I just want to thank my family and my parents (Cheryl and Ron) who have been so supportive of me,” she said.

“When everyone says you need a village, you really do.”

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