The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association honors 10 students in northern Nevada and 10 in southern Nevada with a commemorative award from the NIAA and a $500 savings bond. The northern Nevada student-athletes and seven guests will attend an awards banquet tonight at the Atlantis at 6 p.m.
NIAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine said the program was set up to honor individuals who aren’t just athletes but also good students and are active in the community. When a student is nominated a committee looks at his or her grades, community service, extra-curricular involvement and athletic achievement.
“The students have set the bar for the academic side,” Bonine said. “There’s no rubric but they set the tone for themselves.”
Many of the students participate in multiple sports. They have excellent attendance, a lack of behavioral problems, are involved in the community and tote a respectable GPA.
Quilici and Hill are no exceptions.
Quilici, 18, played football and baseball at Sparks High School all four years. He has a weighted grade point average of 3.92. Quilici will attend the University of Nevada, Reno or University of Oregon in the fall. He hasn’t made up his mind yet. He has decided he would like to major in business and utilize his math competency but doesn’t know what he will do with a business degree.
Hill, an 18-year-old track star at Reed High School, plans to attend UNR in the fall, where she will also major in business with an emphasis in marketing and advertising. Hill is the two-time defending state champion in shot put. This year she was the runner up in the discus event. She has a 3.9 GPA.
To earn Top 10 student-athlete honors, the students must be nominated by their high school with a letter of recommendation and they must right an essay on how athletics have affected their lives.
Quilici’s football coach, Rob Kittrell, nominated him for the award.
“Just look at the kid. He’s an awesome kid,” he said. “He’s a great student in the classroom, great citizen outside the classroom and a great athlete.”
Quilici’s favorite position in football was free safety because he acted like a defensive quarter back he said.
Coach Kittrell had nothing but positives to say about his Railroader standout.
“He’s an awesome kid,” he said. “When we pulled him up as a sophomore he was a little nervous and scared. He gave 100 percent in practice and didn’t back down from the seniors that year ... He kept improving. Defensively he was a cornerback for us. He’s a smart football player.”
Quilici plans on trying to walk on to either UNR or Oregon for football.
He said one of his biggest influences has been his twin brother Zack, a football and basketball player at SHS.
Zack, who is 11 minutes older, trains and lifts weights with Aaron.
“We always go lift and make sure to push each other as hard as we could,” Quilici said.
Quilici said his biggest role model is his dad, “Bubba.”
“He’s kind of been the same way in his high school career,” Quilici said. “He wasn’t as lucky as I was with success. He was talented and recognized. He always worked hard. I can always ask him for help and he tells me about his past experience and what to do.”
Quilici felt lucky to be given the award.
“A lot of kids get awards for on the field stuff but to get an off the field honor combined with on the field accolades it’s probably one of the biggest awards you can receive in high school,” Quilici said. “It’s pretty cool. There are only 10 of us.”
“It’s an honor to be nominated and be picked,” Hill said. “It’s a culmination of how hard you’ve worked on and off the field.”
RHS track and field coach Dale Moss was very proud of Hill. He said Hill originally played soccer, basketball and track but decided she was better off with track and stuck with it.
“When she puts her heart into it, she’s focused and 100 percent dedicated,” Moss said. “It puts her into a position to be successful because of that … It pays off when you do what you’re supposed to and put in the time you’re supposed to.”
Hill credited much of her success to some of the wonderful coaches she’s encountered over the years.
“I’ve had supporters and then I’ve had coaches who just really know how to teach and the technique who have worked with me for hours,” Hill said.
Hill said her biggest role model has been her sister Alexis, who is 25.
“She did so much when she was in high school,” Hill said. “She was senior class president and she had good grades. I can always go to her for advice.”
Both students said they have been lucky enough to have very great parents who support them. Both did not have to hold a job while in school so they could focus on their studies and their grades.
“I think it’d be impossible to have a job and then be able to go far in whatever sport,” Hill said.
Hill said she did a lot of her homework while on the bus to various track meets.
“I did a lot of homework on the bus,” Hill said. “I did a lot of going in and getting make-up assignments or going in and getting help when I didn’t understand something because I missed it.”
“When she wasn’t throwing and competing, she always had a book open and studying,” Moss said. “She has so much on her plate, but she’s able to juggle it and balance it to make her successful in everything that she does … She’s put herself in a position to be successful. (As a coach) You wish you had a million of those people around all the time.”
Quilici said he didn’t sleep much during high school in order to keep up with his studies.
“There was not getting much sleeping until Friday, or Thursday, the day before a game,” Quilici said. “Getting sleep before the game, that’s all I worried about.”