Poised to build on the progress from an inspiring 2016-17 season, Kassidy Nauboris is becoming a significant part of the UOIT Ridgebacks’ athletic mythology. Emerging as the program’s leading scorer, it was part of a compelling season filled with monumental milestones, including the Ridgebacks sweeping the Laurier Golden Hawks for the first time ever.
Complemented by the presence of returning captain Mikaeli Cavell, their leadership collaboration represents a tremendous authenticity, the heartbeat for a Ridgebacks team ready to qualify for the OUA postseason.
In the aftermath of last season, the Brampton-raised Nauboris experienced an unprecedented milestone, affirming her status as one of the OUA’s finest players. Recognized as an OUA Second Team All-Star, Nauboris has proven that she is capable of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the finest in the OUA. Becoming only the second player in the nascent program to gain All-Star status
“Definitely, it was exciting, especially with us being a new school. I was the second ever girl to achieve this. I have to credit my linemates. It was nice because all of our hard work paid off. I hope we are getting our program on track.”
Following the accomplished Jill Morillo, who was named to the 2012 All-Star Team, and was also the recipient of the Marion Hilliard Award in the same year, the assiduous Nauboris is subsequently emerging as a role model for a new generation of Ridgebacks players. Adding to the prestige of this honor is the fact that Nauboris also became the third player in program history to be recognized as the OUA Athlete of the Week.
During such an eventful season in 2016-17, Nauboris’s finest hour simultaneously helped set an encouraging tone as the Ridgebacks entered the New Year. Making the trek to Northern Ontario for a weekend series, the opening game on January 7 resulted in three assists in a 4-3 overtime win against the nationally ranked Nipissing Lakers.
The following day, Nauboris continued to cement her status as the vehicle that propelled the offensive attack. Taking on the Laurentian Voyageurs in a pulse pounding affair, it was a see-saw battle that was definitely one of the OUA’s most intense matches of the season.
Recording a hat trick in a game where the lead changed hands six times, Nabouris would tie the game twice in the first period with her scoring proficiency. After Taylor Weber of Laurentian forced overtime with less than a minute remaining in the third period, Nauboris provided the overtime heroics as Cavell and Nicole Gorda gained the assists.
Serving as her finest hour, it was not only her fifth multi-point game of the year, it was the performance that elevated her into superstar status. Recognized as the OUA Female Athlete of the Week for her efforts, it added luster to what served as a moment that still stands out as one of the greatest in her career,
“Very special! It was our first road trip of the New Year. It was great having that under our belt and nice to be able to start the New Year on such a high note.
That was my first-ever hat trick in OUA play. It was great for it to happen in that way. We had a sweep that weekend as we also beat Nipissing the next game.”
Such a stellar season was one that represented another key chapter in the rise of the Ridgebacks. With Natalie Spooner adding the skills coach to her peerless hockey resume, joining the staff of head coach Jason Caruana, it was a boon for the Ridgebacks. Considering that it marked Spooner’s first season as a coach at the OUA level, it was most fitting that her acumen helped influence Nauboris’ milestone.
Reflecting on the opportunity to learn from Spooner, to have her hockey journey positively impacted by her positive presence, it is one that Nauboris was grateful for.
”She is definitely a good influence to have around our team and a great role model. Her skills have definitely helped influence us. She shows what hard work can do.”
Approaching her fourth season with keen eagerness, Nauboris is optimistic that there will be greater moments to come. Bestowed the honor of the assistant captaincy, it is a role that she accepts with great relish.
Considering that the program has welcomed 10 new players for the 2017-18 season, the presence of Nauboris shall prove to be most crucial for this critical juncture. While it provides an opportunity to augment her leadership abilities, adding a new element to her Ridgebacks legacy, it also allows for an element of pleasant anticipation as the season approaches,
“For sure. The 10 new players are fitting in and it is great to see them transition from their old teams to a new one. As I am in my fourth year, I want to be in a position to help on and off the ice and be a leader.”
While the northern road trip added a newfound level of significance to Nabouris’s body of work with the Ridgebacks, she approaches the season to come with tremendous to come. With it comes the confidence that there shall be many more opportunities to create even more profound moments,
“My favourite moment was the northern road trip when I got that hat trick and was named OUA Athlete of the Week. The personal recognition was great. Overall, that is my highlight right now, but we have a really great team, and I am confident that there will be more highlights to come.
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credit: Mark Staffieri, OUA Athlete of the Week Image obtained from Twitter