Vito Frijia, who led the Fanshawe Falcons to back-to-back Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association National Championships, will be inducted into the CCAA Hall of Fame in the Athlete category.
Frijia starred on the Falcons Men’s Basketball team from 1979-82, leading Fanshawe to CCAA National titles in 1980 and 1981. He was named Most Valuable Player at the 1980 Championship and a tournament All-Star in 1981.
The fact that these Falcons teams consisted of 11 local student-athletes made the National Championship victories that much more special to Frijia.
“Watching my teammates and our coaching staff receive their plaques at the time and the CCAA team trophy, was a moment I’ll never forget,” said Frijia. “The special friendship and bond we created within the team cemented our team’s first attitude which translated to our championship team. We worked hard for each other in off season practices and obviously the games.”
According to his former coach, Glenn Johnston, Frijia could do it all.
“He was our guard but he was also our best rebounder,” said Johnston. “Vito always put it all out there on the court and he expected the same from everybody else on the team.”
Frijia’s work ethic and competitiveness separated him from the pack.
“Nobody worked harder than Vito, that’s why he’s been so successful in everything that he does,” said Johnston.
The impact that Frijia and those Falcons teams had on the institution are not lost on Nathan McFadden, Manager of Athletics at Fanshawe.
“Those gold medals are some of the most revered in Fanshawe’s history and still stand as the only league sport National Championships that Fanshawe has won,” said McFadden.
Upon graduating from Fanshawe’s Construction Engineering Technology Program, Frijia worked for Southside Group, a construction firm in London. After three years with the business, and at the young age of 25, he bought the company and has turned it into a multi-million-dollar firm and one of the largest construction and development companies in Ontario.
Nowadays, Frijia is also the owner of the London Lightning of the National Basketball League of Canada. The Lightning captured NBL Canada championships in 2012 and 2013. Frijia was unanimously voted as the President of the NBL Canada by the Board of Governors in 2015.
“The success I had as a student-athlete at Fanshawe gave me the confidence moving forward in all other aspects of my life, personal and business,” said Frijia, who was inducted into the OCAA Hall of Fame in 2007.
The Falcons certainly take tremendous pride in Frijia’s accomplishments, both on and off the court.
“His contribution to our Athletics success during his time as a student-athlete was exceptional and his personal success since leaving Fanshawe has been unrivaled,” said McFadden.
“Falcons Athletics believes strongly in ‘character, championships and community’ and Vito encompasses all three and has been a generous donor in giving back to the London community.”
Frijia has also been inducted into the London Sports Hall of Fame and the London Business Hall of Fame. And in 2013, he received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
“His is a legacy that is unmatched, yet one that we all strive to achieve,” said McFadden. “We are thrilled that he is being recognized by the CCAA with this distinct honour.”