Name sought for varsity athletics at UBC Okanagan

UBC Okanagan is asking the community to help name its varsity athletics teams for the 2008-2009 season.

"Next season will mark the final year in which we field joint athletics teams with Okanagan College," said Rob Johnson, UBC Okanagan's Director of Athletics and Recreation. "With the end of that arrangement comes the end of our teams’ association with the name Lakers."

At last Friday's second-annual Valley First UBC Okanagan Athletics Scholarship Breakfast, Johnson announced that a committee will be formed to come up with a new name for the university teams.

"We are looking for a strong, gender-neutral name that works well with UBC Okanagan, and we're calling on the public to assist us in naming the new UBC Okanagan teams," he said. "A committee consisting of members of the community, the institution, the alumni, the media, and the Okanagan Nation Alliance will review the suggested names and make a recommendation to the Board of Governors for approval."

"It is our plan that UBC Okanagan will compete under that new name starting in the fall of 2008 and it is our intention to announce the team name, unveil our logo, and introduce our mascot at the 2008 Scholarship Breakfast," he said.

More details regarding the submission of name ideas can be found on the UBC Okanagan athletics website (

More than 350 people attended this year's athletics scholarship fund-raiser at Kelowna's Coast Capri Hotel, sponsored by Valley First Credit Union. A $25,000 gift from Central Okanagan business leader Ron Jacobsen, matched by UBC, provided the vast majority of this year’s windfall for the UBC Okanagan Athletics Scholarship Endowment Fund, which grew by approximately $110,000 as a result of this year's event.

"The Jacobsen family’s incredible generosity is greatly appreciated," said Johnson. "This endowment will benefit Okanagan student athletes forever – a wonderful legacy for Mr. Jacobsen and his family."

UBC President Stephen Toope, keynote speaker at the breakfast fund-raiser, took the opportunity to outline a soon-to-be-released five-year business plan for UBC Okanagan Athletics and Recreation. After a significant amount of community and campus research and consultation, he said, the plan has three main goals:

  • Develop new recreational and athletics facilities required to deliver appropriate programs to a larger UBC Okanagan and to the community
  • Expand the range and scope of campus recreation programming
  • Undertake a successful transition of select existing or new varsity athletics teams to interuniversity competition in CIS/Canada West

All three components were well-received by the audience, Johnson said, noting, "The event was a tremendous success. The community support for our programs is tremendously encouraging."

About the Athletics Scholarship Breakfast

Friday the 13th was anything but unlucky for the UBC Okanagan Athletics Department. With 350 people in attendance, the Valley First UBC Okanagan Athletics Scholarship Breakfast last Friday, April 13, was a wait-listed sell-out for the second straight year. Proceeds were more than double last year's inaugural event, adding $110,000 to bring the Athletics Scholarship Endowment Fund total to more than $160,000.

The local breakfast is based on an idea borrowed from UBC's Vancouver campus, started eight years ago by UBC alumnus Marty Zlotnick. The “Millennium Breakfast” was founded on the premise that partnering with the community and corporate sector is the best way to provide endowment funding for athletics scholarships.

In Vancouver, 1,800 tickets are sold at $200 a plate, generating about $300,000 in revenue. This amount is matched by UBC creating a $600,000 endowment cheque. Using this model, the Millennium Breakfast has generated a $4.6 million endowment in eight years – by far the most successful athletics scholarship fundraiser in Canadian history.

-- 30 --