A B.C. Lions prospect was named the North Okanagan’s athlete of the year at the region’s annual athletic awards ceremony on Wednesday.
Ben Hladik is a six-foot-four, 240-pound linebacker who was selected by the Lions in May’s CFL draft. He was chosen in the third round, 22nd overall.
The Vernon product was a defensive captain in university football for the UBC Thunderbirds and was named a Canada West all-star in 2018 and 2019.
According to the Lions, “although university sports were cancelled in 2020, Ben impressed many scouts in the 2021 virtual combine.”
The Lions said Hladik bench pressed 225 pounds 29 times and ran a 4.66 for the 40-yard dash, along with posting a 10-foot, seven-inch broad jump.
Prior to university, Hladik attended Vernon Secondary, where he led the school’s football team to its first B.C. 2A championship appearance, a 35-15 loss to Seaquam in 2016. He was also Vernon’s first provincial AA MVP.
Hladik could not attend because of other commitments, so his father, Scott, accepted the trophy at an awards ceremony outside of city hall.
Team of the Year
Vernon Secondary’s senior girls’ basketball squad was named the North Okanagan Team of the Year.
The team took part in the provincial 3A tournament in February for a 16th consecutive year and advanced to the championship round.
“We have a tradition of excellence and we hope to continue that in the future,” said Panthers head coach Dave Tetrault, who collected the trophy alongside a host of past winning coaches and player Kelsey Watts, who also attended the event.
Leadership in sports
This year’s winner of the North Okanagan Leadership in Sports award went to Don Friesen, who raised money and then the roof on the newly covered, 12-court pickleball facility at Marshall Fields.
Award organizers say Friesen and a team of volunteers raised approximately $2.4 million to build the facility.
Handing out the awards were sponsor Dan Currie and a committee of media and community sports representatives, including chair Jack Gilroy.