Seeking Olympic-level sports training with PacificSport Okanagan – Kelowna Capital News


A public forum will be held via Zoom on Tuesday, February 22 on a program that provides opportunities for student-athletes to achieve a higher level of performance.

PacificSport Okanagan has begun recruiting registrants to enroll in the program’s 2022-2023 school year, for students in grades 10-12.

PacificOkanagan is one of five locations in British Columbia that offer the Canadian Sport School’s Athlete Development Program to high school students.

Student-athletes spend half their day at their regular school Monday through Thursday taking the required academic courses, and half their day at the athletic school which specifically transfers to graduation credits.

The first two years of the program focus on strength and conditioning, physical training and skill development, and general sports knowledge, with year 12 placing more emphasis on sport-interest goals specific to each individual.

This includes time set aside for daily independent study blocks to complete other school assignments, study time, and online learning.

This year, the 11th of the program, 31 students enrolled, a slight increase from previous years due to the impact of COVID-19 on sports activities in general, says Jackie Lawther, sports performance coordinator for PacificSport Okanagan .

“We saw this year where athletes were looking for structure and stability due to the disruption of COVID for many sports,” Lawther said.

PacificSports Okanagan is a legacy of the 1995 Western Canada Summer Games hosted by Abbotsford in the Fraser Valley, creating a regional non-profit sports center to direct sports services to athletes, coaches and the community.

It is part of a larger nationwide initiative to identify and train athletes who possess skills that match Olympic sport attributes, and here in the central Okanagan it operates in in partnership with the Central Okanagan School District.

Lawther says the program, headquartered outside Rutland Arena, uses local private facilities to work with student-athletes, under the tutelage of director Nathan Reiter.

The upcoming public forum will provide ground rules for how student applicants are judged for entry into the program, which incurs an annual tuition fee of $2,250.

Lawther said they are looking for athletes with a proven motivation and work ethic to succeed both in the classroom and in their chosen athletic fields.

“Ideally, we’d like to bring in new enrollees at the Grade 10 level and see them stay in the program for three years,” Lawther said.

Overall, Lawther said their program is a key step in ensuring Okanagan athletes don’t have to travel to major cities elsewhere to gain world-class training.

This includes the chance to be a carded athlete, which opens up opportunities for funding and financial support through the Athlete Assistance Program.

Snowboard cross competitor Tess Critchlow is an example of a local program participant reaching Olympic level. Another is Olympic medal-winning track and field sprinter Jerome Blake.

For more information on the program, visit the website. or email Jackie Lawther at [email protected]

To register for the forum, go to

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