Okanagan Lakers in Top 10, new scholarship for varsity athletics

With three of the four Okanagan Lakers teams holding top-10 positions in the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association (CCAA) rankings, the Okanagan’s varsity athletics program is looking to the next level of competition. To help propel the program to even greater heights, UBC Okanagan is setting up a major new scholarship endowment for student athletes.

The latest CCAA national rankings put the women’s volleyball team 5th, the men’s volleyball team 7th, and the women’s basketball team in 8th place. The varsity athletics program, which includes players from both UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College, would like to ascend into the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Canada West conference, widely recognized as the highest level of post-secondary athletics competition in Canada.

“Our varsity athletics program features nationally known coaches, outstanding facilities, and room to grow,” says Rob Johnson, Director of Athletics and Recreation at UBC Okanagan. “To be competitive at the CIS Canada West level, we will need to keep the top athletic talent in the valley as well as recruit other talented student athletes to come here.”

Establishing a new Athletics Scholarship Endowment – which will provide the financial assistance needed for time-starved student athletes – UBC Okanagan is hosting the first-annual Athletics Scholarship Breakfast at Kelowna’s Coast Capri Hotel on April 21. Proceeds will be matched by UBC Okanagan.

“Student athletes must train on a year-round schedule and, during the season, practice at least two hours per day four to five days per week,” Johnson says. “Add weekend competitions and the demands of a full academic workload and it is easy to see that there is little time for part-time employment – thus the need for student athlete financial assistance.”

The Athletics Scholarship Breakfast will feature keynote speaker Dr. Martha Piper, President of UBC. Also speaking is UBC Okanagan student Jackie Wong, a star player with the Lakers women’s volleyball team for four years. Wong was recently selected as one of just 10 Canadian female students in the CCAA’s female coach mentor program and is currently an assistant coach with the women’s volleyball team.

Cliff and Lois Serwa, passionate advocates of physical fitness and long-time Okanagan community builders, are patrons of the event. Cliff Serwa was a founding member of the Central Okanagan Foundation and represented Kelowna at the provincial level as an MLA for 10 years. Lois Serwa’s many contributions include being a Member of the Provincial Registered Nurses Board, and an ambassador for Rotoplast Canada.

Tickets for the breakfast event are $100, available from UBC Okanagan Athletics and Recreation. More information is on the web at http://web.ubc.ca/okanagan/athletics/welcome.html.

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