Andrea Priamo honored with Jay Bellinger Award

Women’s basketball post commended for work within and outside the sport

Andrea Priamo averaged 9.4 points and 6.4 rebounds this season.
Andrea Priamo averaged 9.4 points and 6.4 rebounds this season.
Journal File Photo

In her five years as part of the women’s basketball program, Andrea Priamo has made her presence felt on-and-off the floor. On Feb. 27, she was recognized for her efforts as the recipient of the OUA’s Joy Bellinger Award.  

The award acknowledges the student-athlete who bridges their play on the court with their work off of it. If Priamo’s past five seasons with the Gaels are any indication, she fits that bill seamlessly. 

The post player has started in 91 of her 99 career games at Queen’s, was named a 2016-17 second team All-Star and featured in the OUA East’s All-Rookie Team in 2013-14. Beyond her work on the court, Priamo has played a significant role in varsity athletics’ efforts within the Kingston community. 

Participating in or organizing a variety of initiatives — Ride to Conquer Cancer, Shoot for the Cure and Cuts for Cancer, amongst others — Priamo has excelled outside of her basketball career. 

“It was definitely a huge honour,” Priamo told The Journal about receiving the Bellinger Award. “I think it’s a testament to the types of people that Queen’s breeds as athletes.” 

As the co-chair to the Varsity Leadership Council (VLC), Priamo has seen fellow athletes be just as or more involved than herself within the community. 

The VLC is a student-athlete organization that hopes to foster a positive image of Queen’s Athletics by building relationships with the University, Kingston community and Queen’s alumni. The council includes varsity club and team representatives who work in unison to raise awareness for pertinent local issues, such as mental health and cancer research. 

“There’s different kinds of streams for VLC,” Priamo explained. “We have the community involvement piece — where we’ll do work in the community like visit schools — and the athlete involvement piece, which is encouraging athletes to support each other at games.” 

Since her second year, Priamo has organized both Shoot for the Cure and Cuts for Cancer. Shoot for the Cure has raised nearly $20,000 in four years, and encourages Queen’s athletes to fundraise for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Cuts for Cancer has athletes cut over eight inches of their hair during halftime of a men’s basketball game and has produced 27 ponytails in four years to make wigs for cancer patients. 

When asked about her involvement within these cancer awareness initiatives, Priamo said the disease is “one close to the heart.” 

“[M]y dad was diagnosed with cancer late in high school,” Priamo said of her now-cancer-free father. Since then, Priamo, her father and brother, have participated in the Ride to Conquer Cancer to raise awareness for the disease. The three of them have raised over $16,000 in just the last two summers for the Princess Margaret Cancer Center.  

“Cancer affects everybody. Literally everybody,” Priamo said. “And I think any little way that I can help raise money or even donate my hair — anything I can do or encourage others to do — will help.” 

What’s perhaps most remarkable about Priamo’s philanthropic endeavours is how she’s been able to time-manage. Albeit tough to juggle the rigors of a varsity-athletic schedule — coupled with academics and community work — she said, “you just find the time to do the things you love doing.”

“It’s definitely been tough to balance, but you can balance anything if you really enjoy doing it,” Priamo continued. “Whether it’s practice, a film session, weight lifting, community involvement … you find the time.” 

In reflecting on her time with the women’s basketball program, Priamo —who’s exhausted her five years of eligibility — said she’s emotional about leaving the team. On top of this, she’s grateful for what proved to be a rewarding experience.

“I’ve had a lot of time these last few weeks to reflect after my last season finished and I’ve been feeling very grateful for the experience,” she said. “It’s sad, it’s bittersweet, but I had such a great experience that not a lot of people can say that they did.” 

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