UBC Reports | Vol. 48 | No. 2 | Jan.
Partnerships boost athletics
UBC Athletics fosters sports with help from community
by Don Wells staff writer
In the game of funding university sport, UBC is scoring some big
points thanks to an increasing number of community partners who
want to help the university keep more of Canada's best and brightest
student athletes at home.
Martin Zlotnik, a former UBC golf team captain, entrepreneur and
community leader, is among those leading various campaigns to preserve
and enhance Thunderbird programs.
In the mid-80s, Zlotnik and a group of like-minded alumni founded
the Thunderbird Golf Society which has raised enough money to build
a sizable and growing endowment fund for scholarships, coaching
honoraria and travel for UBC's men's and women's teams.
More recently, Zlotnik convinced the prestigious Shaughnessy Golf
Club to serve as their official practice facility. Shaughnessy also
provides administrative and coaching support from director of golf,
But Zlotnik's crowning achievement has undoubtedly been staging
the Millennium Breakfast, an annual event which in just two years
has raised more than a million dollars for athletic scholarships.
"We can't stand idly by and watch so many academically qualified
student-athletes go to the United States because they don't have
the same scholarship opportunities here," says Zlotnik. "Alumni
have to get involved and we have to get excited."
But it's not only alumni who have answered the rallying cry of
UBC's athletic department.
National, provincial and local sport associations have also joined
forces with the university to consolidate resources and facilities.
The most shining example is the partnership involving UBC's swimming
program, the Pacific Dolphins Club Program, Swim Canada, Swim BC
and the federally funded Pacific Sport National Sport Centre.
The partnership has resulted in UBC becoming home to a swim program
that boasts five full-time coaches led by Tom Johnson, a veteran
of 25 years on the international circuit.
"Many people don't understand the continuum that is necessary to
produce Olympic medal performances," says Johnson.
"This consortium enables us to provide high-performance training
at every stage, from young kids right up to the Olympics and combine
it with top university education."
Under Johnson and co-coach Randy Bennett, UBC produced nine Olympic
swimmers in 2000, almost a full third of Canada's entry at the Sydney
Other partnership groups include the recently founded Friends
of UBC Baseball, which resurrected a 50-year-old program that folded
in the late '70s. The team competes against US colleges and plays
home games at Nat Bailey Stadium.
The only program in Canada, it has attracted the attention of
major league stars Larry Walker, Jeff Zimmerman and Ryan Dempster,
who have made personal pledges and participate in an annual fundraising
In just three years, the T-Birds have produced what many pro scouts
have speculated will be a first-round major league draft pick in
pitcher Jeff Francis, a third-year Science student.
Foundation 2000 Plus, a Victoria based organization devoted to
advancing the sport of rowing across Canada, has partnered with
UBC to create the Thunderbird Rowing Centre. By providing instruction
for some 600 participants in recreational programs, the centre raises
enough money to fund two full-time coaching positions for UBC's
varsity crews, as well as assisting with operations and equipment
"There is no doubt that we have funding challenges ahead of us,
some of which we can control and some that are more problematic,"
says Bob Philip, director of Athletics and Recreation. "But there
is no doubt we are finding solutions and producing results, and
the rest of Canada is asking us how they can do the same."