Lions women’s hockey player named one of Ontario’s top female scholar-athletes

York Lions women’s hockey player Autumn Mills, named yesterday as one of Ontario’s top female scholar-athletes by Ontario University Athletics (OUA), will be recognized at the sixth annual Women of Influence Luncheon.

The event, which will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 10, honours female student-athletes who have excelled in their chosen sports and fields of study.

A third-year right-winger from London, Ont., Mills has been an integral part of the Lions women’s hockey team over the past few years. Last season, she helped the Lions advance to the playoffs for the first time in five years as she finished fifth in team scoring with 11 points (six goals, five assists). She has already passed that mark this year and is currently fourth in team scoring with 14 points (eight goals, six assists).

Right: Autumn Mills

In addition to her hockey prowess, Mills is a high-performance baseball player. She has been a pitcher with the Canadian Women’s National Baseball Team for four seasons, representing her country at events around the world, and has also won a national championship with Team Ontario.

Away from athletics, she is an exceptional student and a dedicated instructor and volunteer. A member of the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Academic All-Canadian honour roll last season, Mills is in the Concurrent Bachelor of Education Program at York and as part of her course load she has a teaching placement in an elementary school.

When she isn’t studying or training, Mills volunteers her time to coaching a men’s baseball team and working as a skill coach with a youth squad. This past summer she conducted a girls baseball camp called All Girls Baseball Day in Nova Scotia, where she and Melanie Harwood, another member of the National Baseball Team, led over 80 girls between the ages of five and 13 through drills and then acted as an umpire for some of their games. Mills has also been an instructor at Frozen Ropes Canada, a popular baseball and softball training centre.

As if being in a highly demanding educational program, maintaining Academic All-Canadian status, participating in two high-level sports and volunteering were not enough, Mills holds down two part-time jobs to support herself while she attends school.

“There are numerous other athletes at York that are eligible for this and I am honoured to be chosen for the award,” said Mills. “I’m really excited to be a part of something like this and I’m glad that my athletic and academic participation is being noticed.”

This year’s guest speaker at the luncheon will be Canadian Olympian and OUA Champion For Life, Tonya Verbeek – the first Canadian woman ever to win a medal in wrestling. She claimed silver in 55-kg freestyle at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, and four years later in Beijing, won a bronze medal to become the most decorated Canadian wrestler at the Olympic Games.

As an elite athlete, Verbeek’s accomplishments extend far beyond the mat. She serves as a role model in her community, sharing her journey with students to encourage them to strive for their athletic aspirations while always emphasizing the importance of academics. At the luncheon, Verbeek will recount her journey to becoming a successful Olympian as well as how she uses her success and experiences to help guide others to achieve their goals.

Tickets to the luncheon are $88.20 each (taxes included) and can be purchased by calling Lisa Constanzo at 416-923-1688 ext. 23 or via e-mail at The event will be held from 12 to 2pm at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (North Building), 255 Front St. W. in Toronto.

The top female scholar-athletes will be profiled on a weekly basis leading up to the luncheon on the OUA Web site.

Submitted to YFile by Alyson Grant, sport & recreation officer, with files from OUA