Canadian sports legend, UBC alumnus and member of the UBC Sports Hall of Fame Herb Capozzi has been named Honorary Chair for the second-annual Valley First/UBC Okanagan Athletic Scholarship Breakfast.
Now in its second year, the event will be held on April 13, 2007, at the Coast Capri Hotel. The inaugural breakfast last year raised $25,000 to establish the UBC Okanagan Athletics Scholarship Endowment. UBC matched that amount, doubling the initial endowment total to $50,000. Last July, long-time Kelowna businessman Bob Lindsay, a former athlete, current President of the Okanagan Sun Football Club, and a very active booster of amateur sports in the Okanagan, was named Chair of the Athletic Scholarship Breakfast.
As the Honorary Chair, Herb Capozzi also brings to the event decades of achievements on and off the sports field, says Rob Johnson, Director of Athletics and Recreation at UBC Okanagan.
Capozzi played UBC football and basketball in the 1940s, playing on the first football teams fielded with the varsity league’s resumption following World War Two."Herb Capozzi's involvement with sport is legendary," says Johnson. "He was one of British Columbia’s great athletic talents whether he was playing varsity sports or pro football, and he took his competitive drive beyond sport into the business world where he has been a leader and a builder."
“I don’t think of myself as an athlete, but at school if there were athletics, I got involved,” Capozzi says. He tried his hand at everything from wrestling to cricket. Drafted by the New York Giants of the National Football League, Capozzi decided instead to join the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League and helped them achieve the impressive feat of three consecutive Grey Cup appearances, from 1954 to 1956.
From Montreal, he headed West and for 10 years was general manager of the B.C. Lions football team, leading the franchise through one of its great eras. He recalls packing Empire Stadium with 40,000 cheering Lions fans game after game.
He didn’t stop there. Capozzi went on to serve for seven years as the MLA for Vancouver’s downtown. After two terms in the legislature, he jumped into a whole new field – the soccer pitch, founding the Vancouver White Caps and helping establish professional soccer in North America. The North American Soccer League had 10 teams by the time he retired from the “other football.”
His sports acumen translated well into business. Capozzi and partners brought to Canada the first 22 franchises of an up-and-coming fast food outfit called McDonald’s. Later, he helped found the successful Keg Restaurant chain and has served on the boards of many corporations.
Capozzi's business card reflects a playful sense of humour about it all: “F.E.” it says, after his BA, BComm and BEd credentials. Capozzi laughs as he explains, “It stands for Formerly Everything.”
In 2001, he and his wife Alex moved from the Lower Mainland to Kelowna. Today, he is president of Pasadena Investments and Catalina Properties Inc.
A few $100-per-seat tickets are still available for the April 13 fund-raiser breakfast. For information, contact Elizabeth Kershaw at UBC Okanagan's Development office, 250-807-8436.
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