TRU alumni recognized for outstanding community leadership

Justine Cleghorn, Contributor Ω

imageSkye Buck, a Clearwater resident who passed away with his wife Courtney in early December was one of six alumni recognized with a community leadership award at TRU’s first alumni event on Jan. 12 at the TRU Gym.

Recipients of the award were TRU alumni athletes who made a positive impact on the community through their dedication of giving back to the sport of basketball and community involvement as coaches and role models.

The community leadership awards are part of TRU’s goal of “starting a tradition to recognize alumni who give time to the community,” said Kelley O’Grady, TRU’s first-ever alumni network liaison.

Before the creation of the new position, alumni groups didn’t exist at TRU, O’Grady said.

“It takes a long time to build an alumni program,” she added. “We’re starting small and hoping to grow into a successful alumni program like UBC and SFU.”

O’Grady, athletic director Ken Olynyk, alumni officer Arlene Olynyk and various community members nominated the candidates.

“We have great people that come through our program and contribute to our community,” Ken Olynyk said.
Among those recognized were: Sheila Balson, Sandra Blair, Sarah Cameron, Lindsey Karpluk, Ryan Porter and the late Skye Buck.

Sheila Balson was the first athlete to receive an all-Canadian award at the University of Cariboo College (UCC), TRU’s precursor. Balson has coached basketball at all levels, including the UCC women’s basketball team for one season.

While studying at UCC, Sandra Blair was a three-time scholar athlete of the year and academic all-Canadian while competing on both UCC’s basketball and soccer teams. For the past eight years, Blair has been a member of the TRU Sports Task Force, an athletic endowment fund for student athletes that has raised more than $100,000 a year and given 204 awards to student athletes.

Sarah Cameron was an assistant coach for the WolfPack men’s basketball team while simultaneously coaching the Sahali Sabres and a B.C. regional team in 2010. She currently volunteers her time as a co-coach with the Brookswood Bobcat junior girls’ basketball team in Langley, B.C.

After competing as a member of not only the basketball team, but also the hockey team at UCC, Lindsey Karpluk became the head coach of the men’s basketball team from 1990 to 1992. Today, Karpluk coaches the Norkam senior women’s basketball team in Kamloops.

While playing basketball with UCC, Ryan Porter achieved the BCAA Player of the Year, CCAA Player of the Year, CCAA All-Canadian and Academic All-Canadian Award in 2000. After graduating, he became an assistant coach at UCC for two seasons and won a CCAA national championship with the 2004-05 men’s basketball team. Porter currently coaches the senior boys’ basketball team at Westsyde Secondary School in Kamloops.

In 2004, Skye Buck was the UCC male athlete of the year, BCCAA Player of the Year, CCAA player of the year, CCAA All-Canadian and bronze-medal winner with his team at nationals. After playing professionally in London for the Essex Leopards, he returned to Clearwater where he coached senior men’s and women’s volleyball and basketball.

Ken Olynyk presented the community leadership award plaques in halftime ceremonies. Brent and Tracy Buck accepted Skye’s award on behalf of their late son.

Before the start of the men’s game, a video presentation by CFJC’s Earl Seitz was shown honouring Skye and Courtney Buck. It was followed by a moment of silence.

Porter ended the men’s game halftime by presenting Tracy Buck with a game basketball in honour of Skye.
Porter and Skye Buck were not only teammates but also good friends during their time at TRU.

“He definitely made the game a lot easier for post players like myself,” Porter said of Skye. “It’s always easy to score when you have a point guard of his calibre. He was one the best teammates you could have.”

Some of Porter’s favourite memories included time spent off the court with Skye.

“It was a blast getting to know him over the years,” Porter said.

“It was really nice to come here,” said Skye’s father Brent. “This is the first university game that I’ve seen since I came and watched Skye.”

While reflecting on his time spent with Skye, Brent praised his late son’s qualities of perseverance, humility and sportsmanship with a wide smile.

“I believe that when I grow up, I want to be like Skye,” Brent said. “He’s just a great example.”

The award will be a reminder of “that clean attitude he had and his humility. He treated everybody the same,” he said. “It’s going to be an emblem that helps me recognize those memories again.”

The support the Buck family has received from the Clearwater community has been exceptional, according to Brent.

“It’s a community with heart,” he said. “Right from day one they have supported us through our grief.

“I know Skye and Courtney they would want us to be very positive about things. They would not want us to be milling around and being lost in our sorrow.”

An alumni display was set up showcasing team pictures over the years along with a memorial display of Skye and Courtney. A slideshow of pictures of Skye and Courtney played continuously throughout the evening near the gym entrance. Friends of Skye and Courtney were encouraged to share favourite memories of the couple at a memory box display.

A total of 43 alumni members and 350 fans attended the event. O’Grady considered it a success.
The WolfPack basketball teams ended the evening with two straight wins over the University of Calgary Dinos.

The women’s team secured its 10th victory of the season with Saturday’s 69-60 win over the Dinos. Top scorers for the WolfPack were Diane Scheutze with 20 points and 19 rebounds and Taiysa Worsfeld with 17 points.

In a nail-biting ending, the WolfPack men’s team took the win over Calgary 85-81, raising its record to 6-7. TRU was led by Kevin Pribilsky with 20 points and Brett Rouault with 15 points.