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UBC Okanagan’s development program helping athletes earn scholarships

UBCO development program helping athletes earn scholarships

University of British Columbia Okanagan’s girls junior volleyball development program is helping its athletes dreams come to fruition.

The program has around 12 girls, aged 17 to 18,  that have already secured scholarships to take the next steps in their athletic and academic careers.

“We really take what the athlete wants to do and try to work with that,” said Steve Manual, UBCO Junior Heat’s program head.

“We take great pride getting them where they want to be for the next level.”

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The girls come from all over the Central Okanagan, including Kelowna Secondary School, George Elliot Secondary and Okanagan Mission Secondary.

“We all came from different parts of the Okanagan, and it brought us together,” said Anya Pemberton, a UBCO Junior Heat player.

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The team sets very high standards for its players.

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“I would say out of the 24 [athletes] over the next few months to a year, 80 to 90 per cent of them will move on to the next level,” said Manual.

For some of the girls, the next level is right here in the Okanagan.

“I’m staying at UBCO, staying at home,” said Tessa Ivans, a UBCO Junior Heat athlete.

“I’m really excited to be playing at the next level, I’ve always watched the Heat, so to be able to play with them is cool. ”

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“As soon as I joined the Junior Heat team, UBCO said they want me on their university team,” said Madelyn Hettinga.

“Right after the school season ended, and tryouts were over, I got offered a spot on the university team,” said Lexi Prefontaine, a UBCO Junior Heat player. “I took it just because I love Kelowna.”

UBCO’s Junior Heat program has been built to help UBCO’s women’s volleyball team and also develop volleyball players in the region.

“In the end, it’s meant to develop all the athletes, there’s no way we can incorporate all these athletes in the UBCO program,” said Manual. “We want to development athletes that can go on and play post secondary.“

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The development program has its sights set on a national championship tournament in May.

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