Name search is on for UBC Okanagan Athletics

What do you think the UBC Okanagan varsity athletics' team name should be? Suggestions from the public are welcome as the University prepares to field its own UBC Okanagan teams in the 2008-2009 season.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," says Rob Johnson, Director of Athletics and Recreation. "How many times does a community get the opportunity to be involved in the creation of a campus identity?”

UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College, created from the former Okanagan University College in 2005, and share varsity teams under the "Okanagan Lakers" moniker. Starting in the fall of 2008, UBC Okanagan will compete on its own and needs to determine a name for its teams.

Most sports teams have a long tradition with their names but since UBC Okanagan was only opened in 2005, Johnson says, the varsity program is in the unique position of establishing an entirely new tradition.

"The Lakers name has been with Okanagan College since its inception, and the college plans to keep it," he notes. "This gives UBC Okanagan and the Okanagan community a chance to consider a name and logo for our new UBC Okanagan campus."

Through an agreement between Okanagan College, UBC Okanagan and the British Columbia Colleges’ Athletics Association (BCCAA), student athletes attending either institution have had an opportunity to compete on a joint team for the past two years.

"The BCCAA was very kind to allow us to run joint teams," Johnson says. "The announcement to create two new institutions basically cut our student population in half between Okanagan College and UBC Okanagan, based on programs and campuses. Had the BCCAA not agreed to allow this, many student athletes would have had their careers cut very short. Not only was there a student population issue but a facility issue as well. The BCCAA gave us three years -- with 2007-2008 being the final year -- to get through the transition and establish our own independent programs."

A broad-based committee has been charged with the task of recommending the "top three" list to the UBC Board of Governors for approval. The committee includes members of the community, the media, the Okanagan Nation, UBC alumni as well as student athletes, coaches and reps from the various UBC Okanagan employee groups.

"We are asking members of the public to suggest names for consideration by the committee," says Johnson. "It's not really a contest, but everyone who makes a submission will have their name entered into a draw for a DVD player."

More information about the naming project and how to submit name suggestions can be found at the new UBC Okanagan Athletics website: www.ubc.ca/okanagan/athletics.

"We are really pleased with our new web presence," said Johnson. "We had students working over the summer to completely revamp our site. It is a big improvement and a great place to get up-to-date info about what’s happening at UBC Okanagan Athletics and Recreation."

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