On Monday, St. Thomas Aquinas Women's Basketball and Softball standout Melissa Sadler was named a recipient of the 2018 John Smillie, Jr. Award at the East Coast Conference's Ninth Annual Awards Banquet, hosted by the University of Bridgeport.
This award is given in honor of NYIT Athletic Trainer, John Smillie, Jr. who passed away two years after battling cancer. The John Smillie, Jr. Award is given annually to a student-athlete or student-athletes who have overcome personal or physical challenges and hardships to pursue their intercollegiate athlete careers. John Smillie's children were in attendance to present the awards.
Melissa, or as most know her as, "Missy" was diagnosed with a hearing impairment when she was just 2 years old and has been wearing hearing aids since the age of 3.
However, this has not detered Missy from becoming an impactful 2-sport athlete at St. Thomas Aquinas College. On the court, Sadler helped the Lady Spartans to an ECC Championship by averaging 3.8 points per game and 2.8 rebounds per game over 32 contests. On the softball diamond, she was an All-Conference selection after hitting .351 with 33 hits in 94 at-bats. With both sports, Sadler has been an inspiration to her teammates and coaches these past two years and continues to get better and better despite her disability.
Sadler said playing sports was the biggest hurdle to overcome in her life, and it’s a hurdle she still must clear every day. She still cannot wear hearing aids on the court or on the field, so teammates must speak louder than usual or use hand signals to communicate with her.