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Once a Mountaineer, always a Mountaineer: Aminu Bello’s unforgettable contributions to Mohawk College men’s basketball

Aminu Bello holds the title of 2011-12 OCAA and CCAA Male Athlete of the Year and has earned a place in the OCAA Hall of Fame.

Bello was a key component in bringing the Mohawk Mountaineers men’s basketball team to their first OCAA victory and championship in 40 years during the 2011-12 season. Following this win, Bello’s team also went on to play at the CCAA National Championship.

Despite Bello’s memorable achievements, he recognizes that he would not have been able to attain such success without the help of the people who were around him providing guidance and support.

“A lot of it came down to the habits and the discipline,” Bello said. “It’s not the award, that’s at the back end. It’s all what was built up to get there, all the small steps. I got a lot of that started in high school. I had some really good coaches that instilled a lot of good work ethic in me and set the parameters for all those milestones I achieved.”

Bello (orange shorts and red cap) received the highest OCAA honour and was named CCAA 2012 Male Athlete of the Year.

Matthew Cupido, Bello’s long-time friend was the captain of the Mountaineers men’s basketball team during the 2011-12 season. He noted how talented and hard-working Bello was as both a basketball player and person.

“Aminu was an incredible competitor,” Cupido recalled. “A quiet leader, but led more by example. He was always the hardest-working guy. Off the court, he was a fun guy who liked to joke around and always had a smile on his face.”

Before coming to Mohawk, Bello completed a four-year degree in Geography from McMaster University. He has had a love for buildings ever since he was a child and came to Mohawk to pursue his passion for planning and the environment.

Bello took Mohawk’s Urban and Regional Planning Technician program and is now a senior planner for Waterloo. Prior to this role, he had previously been a development planner for three years for Hamilton.

“[Urban and Regional Planning] is a pretty competitive program,” Bello said. “And I came into planning later into my studies, probably around my third year [at McMaster]. As a young kid, I always used to like building cities with Lego and I was always interested in taking photos of the skyline and things of that sort.”

Varsity basketball is not the only college activity Bello got involved in at Mohawk.

He worked as a tutor and was part of the Mohawk Students’ Association as a class representative in addition to being a Mountaineer and focusing on his academics.

Bello is still in contact with many former teammates and peers from his time at Mohawk. Alumni life can get busy with work, relationships and distance, but Bello made unforgettable connections as a Mountaineer and makes time to see the group from his college days.

“We have a tight-knit group of alumni that we meet with,” Bello said. “Every year or so, because we were all teammates and we have that special bond. It’s something I keep in touch with from the athletic side and on the professional side. There are a few of my classmates that I worked with at Hamilton as well.”

Cupido agreed that the group of former teammates shares a special bond and enjoys hanging out.

“I would say we are all still close,” he said. “Winning the championship that season created a real special bond with everyone and I think Aminu and I had a lot of respect for each other. We have attended alumni weekend together and usually a few of us go out for food.”

Bello’s love and passion for basketball is still going strong.

“I’m currently a head coach for the Steel Town Athletic Club, STAC Hamilton,” he said. “On Jan. 27, the Mohawk College basketball program hosted a showcase game for our athletes prior to the men’s basketball game against Canadore College. STAC Basketball is a community basketball program intended to elevate youth.”

The showcase featured a game between STAC and Supreme Hoops, another local club. This event provided opportunities for high school students to compete and gain exposure to Mohawk College Athletics. The STAC players also cheered on the Mountaineers in their game later in the evening.

Aminu Bello has made unforgettable contributions to Mohawk College athletics in the past, and still continues to appreciate the athletics program today.

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