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TRU WolfPack receive record-breaking donation from Kamloops Sports Legacy Fund

The $500,000 contribution goes to equipment for the university’s new varsity high-performance athletics centre in the upper mezzanine of the TRU gym ($375,000) and to student awards and scholarships ($125,000).

Kamloops Sports Legacy Fund executive director Bob Smillie lived up to his name on Wednesday (March 15) in the Thompson Rivers University Gym, grinning ear to ear while speaking about a record-breaking donation to the TRU WolfPack.

“It’s just an amazing and wonderful experience to share this with the community,” Smillie said. “It’s been amazing to see the growth in the community in the fund. This is just a continuation on a bit of a larger scale, but it will not deter from what we put into the community in other ways.”

The largest donation to WolfPack athletics in program history will be used to provide equipment for the high-performance athletics centre in the TRU Gym ($375,000), along with student awards and scholarships ($125,000).

“A lot of the time, as a strength coach, you’re limited by the environment, whether it’s equipment or culture,” said Aaron Chew, head coach of strength and conditioning for the Pack. “I think this space, certainly on the equipment end, ticks off all the boxes we need. That cultural and community piece, as well, it kind of gives the athletes a space where they can all hang out, develop relationships and that really is the foundation of a good athletics program and good university experience for a collegiate athlete.”

The training centre is under construction in the area that was formerly dedicated to squash courts and is expected to reach completion this summer.

“I’m really excited to have a place where we can train with a bunch of fellow Wolfpack athletes,” said Caitlin (Larry) Larrigan, a WolfPack women’s volleyball player from Calgary. “At TCC right now, it’s really difficult to get to know other athletes. We’re all going to be able to push each other.”

TRU, which spent $1.3 million on the renovation and hired Chew to lead strength programming, will use the grant money to install lifting stations, speed-work tracks and other equipment in the new space.

“They end up running our city and being part of the community, so it’s important to see what being good to your community can do,” Legacy Fund president Brendan Martin said.

The fund, which provided $417,453 in grants in 2023, will have distributed $4.8 million to 126 organizations in Kamloops and region upon the completion of the 2023 fiscal year.

Martin said the Legacy Fund — which originated from the sale of the Kamloops Blazers in 2007 and a contribution at the dissolution of the Blazers Foundation in 2008 — will eventually need new board members and directors.

He hopes some of them might be WolfPack graduates impacted by the donation.

“It will be here 50 years from now,” Martin said. “We want this to be part of our legacy.”

2023 Kamloops Sports Legacy Fund allocation

Adaptive Sports at Sun Peaks $5,000

Barriere Recreation Society $14,650

Boogie the Bridge Society $2,000

Excel Rivers2 Soccer team $3,700

Greater Kamloops BMX Society $15,533

Harper Mountain Ski Club $5,900

Kamloops Biathlon Club $14,000

Kamloops Blazers Hockey Club $1,200

Kamloops Canoe and Kayak Club $12,000

Kamloops Collegiate Baseball Society $5,500

Kamloops Dragon Boat Club $5,100

Kamloops Minor Hockey Association $5,000

Kamloops Minor Lacrosse Association $9,345

Kamloops Performance Cycling Centre $9,500

Kamloops Pickleball Club $3,584

Kamloops Rowing Club $5,995

Kamloops Sports Council $19,300

Kamloops Sunrays Artistic Swim Club $6,330

Kamloops Track and Field Club $11,600

Kamloops Tsunami Summer Swim Club $4,950

Kamloops Youth Soccer Association $5,000

KidSport Kamloops Chapter $30,000

McArthur Island Curling Club $5,100

PacificSport Interior BC $80,000

Special Olympics BC $15,000

Sun Peaks Freestyle Club $9,111

Tournament City Derby Diversified $3,055

TRU Wolfpack $75,000

TRU Athletic Scholarships $25,000

TOTAL: $417,453