In theory, the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds will be the home team for the first Kal Tire Kalamalka Bowl Canadian U-Sports football game against the University of Calgary Dinos Wednesday, Aug. 24, at Greater Vernon Athletics Park.
There is, however, a distinct Okanagan flavour to the Dinos’ roster, starting with five former members of the Vernon Panthers – Liam Reid, Brady Szeman, Josh Hyer, Road Reid and Zack Smith – and Kelowna Secondary Owls alumni Isaac Athans, Nate Beauchemin, Easton and Everett Schmuland.
Oh, and the likes of Daniel Townsend, Matt Sibley, Sam Carson, and coaches Nathan Mollard and Paul Carson have ties to Kelowna Minor Football and/or the Okanagan Sun junior program in Kelowna.
The game, the first of its kind to be played in the North Okanagan, will take place Wednesday, Aug. 24, 7 p.m., at GVAP.
“I think this game will really increase the interest in football throughout the Okanagan as many more people have the opportunity to check out a high level football game in their hometown,” said Szeman, an offensive lineman with the Dinos.
Added linebacker Liam Reid: “I’m very excited to play back in my hometown again in front of lots of friends and family.”
Paul Carson was heavily involved in football while residing in Kelowna for 14 years. He was offensive line coach with the Sun, the position he holds now with the Dinos, and was club president for three seasons before relocating with his family to Calgary in 2015.
“This is a great opportunity for me to see a lot of people I know from the Okanagan football community,” said Carson, whose son, Sam, was born in Kelowna and started playing football there as an eight-year-old.
Sam, a Calgary offensive lineman, is the second Carson to play for the Dinos, with older brother Matt playing five years from 2012 to 2016.
Paul has coached and Sam has played in Vernon.
“We were not very successful in Vernon. They always beat us,” joked Paul. The pre-season game will mark the first time Paul has coached and Sam will play at GVAP though they have driven by the facility numerous times.
The contest also marks the first time the Dinos have played in Vernon and just the second time they have had a non-conference game in the team’s 58 years in the B.C. Interior. The Dinos previously play Simon Fraser University at Kamloops in 2006.
UBC’s local talent includes former Vernon Panthers star tight end Bradley Hladik, Salmon Arm offensive lineman Brandon Sanford and receivers Lliam Wishart of Kamloops and Nicholas Stanfield of West Kelowna.
The Kal Tire Kalamalka Bowl will also feature training camps for minor and high school football players with the two teams on Tuesday, Aug. 23, and a special Huddle in the Park free gathering for the public with a concert provided by local band Cod Gone Wild.
The fun begins at 6 p.m. at Polson Park. There will be a chance to meet the players from both teams, and Silver Star Rotary will operate a concession.
More information on the game can be found at kalbowl.com.
–with files from former University of Calgary sports information director Jack Neumann