It’s all about the journey for Cassidy “Cass” Hritzuk, and the opportunities that are afforded to you along the way. Knowing the importance of seizing opportunity, he wasted no time when opportunity came knocking on his door in the form of being the UBC Okanagan Heat Golf’s newest coach.
A Canadian PGA Teaching Professional, Cass Hritzuk is an instructor at World Beat Family Golf, and will be the fifth golf coach at the Kelowna institution that golfs out of the Okanagan Golf Club during the year.
Cass will take over a women’s team that has won four straight Provincial championships and a national title, and a men’s team that has boasted some of the top individuals in the province. Don Kroschinsky, an assistant from last year’s championship squad will continue his coaching role for a second straight year, and will add some experience and knowledge of the league for Cass to rely on.
Taking over a program that has placed nearly a half-dozen banners in the rafters will be a daunting task for Hritzuk, made all that more difficult with the loss of highly decorated women golfers like Jen Woods (Kelowna, BC) and Alana Kent (Calgary, AB) who have graduated and moved on; talents such as sophomore Jessica Kozak (West Kelowna, BC) and former provincial player of the year, third-year men's player Cody Bell (Salmon Arm, BC), as well as a wealth of current and incoming players will be around to continue the journey of Heat Golf at UBC Okanagan.
Joining Kroschinsky as an assistant for Hritzuk’s program will be Robert Letvinchuk, the president of World Beat Golf. Letvinchuk has over 30 years of experience as a golf professional and played professional overseas before settling into a coaching role and will help with the team as much as his schedule allows.
“We are very pleased to have Cass join our coaching staff” noted Rob Johnson, Director of Athletics & Recreation, “Cass along with his assistants Don and Robert will bring a wealth of experience and lots of enthusiasm. I am confident our student athletes will continue to thrive.”
Growing up in small town St. Walburg in Saskatchewan with a population under a thousand, Cass was thirteen years old when the town’s golf course was built. Little did he know that it would be that course that would ignite a fire in his belly throughout his teenage years for the game of golf.
“I would play before school, after school, and on my school’s golf team,” Cass said of his golfing roots. “Since then, golf has taken me around the world! It has provided me with countless opportunities, and it didn’t take me long to discover that ‘opportunities’ is what golf truly has to offer!”
It is no surprise that a person that fell in love with the game at the age of 13 would be involved with teaching the game to another generation. Not only is Cass coaching the University squad but he will be involved with the Dr. Knox Golf Academy starting this fall, a partnership between School District 23, local golf facilities, and professionals, to teach golf to school age children.
He goes on about the opportunities the sport has offered him, and the opportunities he hopes it will afford for his team: “Opportunities to learn a skill, to travel, and to see the most breathtaking landscapes in the world! It also offers, more importantly, opportunities for personal and emotional growth, for learning to trust yourself and your ability to learn how to truly focus, and an opportunity to feel free, calm, and happy as you enjoy one of the things you love most—playing golf!”
Cass has stressed his desire to emphasize the personal journey that he knows golf can take you through, and he hopes the journey for Heat athletes will help them grow not just as golfers, but as people. “It is our goal as coaches to help the students learn about themselves and discover what works for them as unique individuals,” he said.
“The passion for golf is in the learning, discovering, and growing, not in the score,” the new coach elaborated. “Score is always there, whether you perform up to your own expectations or not, there will always be a score. So to focus completely on something that is always there anyway is detrimental to what truly needs to happen for young individuals—personal growth.”
Always enthusiastic, Cass is very excited to meet all of the golfers and get to know them on a personal level as well as on a golfing level. “In order to help [the athletes] grow as individuals and golfers it’s important to get to know them well enough to know their tendencies and desires for the upcoming season.”
With this past weekend’s Qualifying tournament at the Okanagan Golf Club over Cass can now take stock of his team and begin preparation for another banner year for the Heat golf program.
Varsity golf for the Heat will begin on Saturday and Sunday (Sep 8-9) on Vancouver Island with 36 holes at the Morningstar Golf Course in Parksville, for the first PACWEST event of the year. The Heat will get a chance to play at home as the second PACWEST tournament of the year, Sep 14-15, will be hosted by UBC Okanagan and played at the Okanagan Golf Club.
Previous head coaches for the Heat Golf Team
Adrianne Vedan and Garry Appleton….......….........……2008-10