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UBC, Alberta to meet in Vernon exhibition football game

The second Kal Tire Kalamalka Bowl will be played Wednesday, Aug. 23, at Greater Vernon Athletic Park
The UBC Thunderbirds will return to the North Okanagan in 2023 to defend their Kal Tire Kalamalka Bowl title. The T-Birds will face the University of Alberta Golden Bears in a Canadian university football exhibition game Wednesay, Aug. 23, at Greater Vernon Athletic Park. UBC defeated the Calgary Dinos 28-10 in the inaugural Kal Bowl in 2022. (Darren Hove photo)

Organizers of the Kal Tire Kalamalka Bowl CIS U-Sports football game in Coldstream have a hit on their hands.

And a new participant for 2023.

More than 2,000 showed up at Greater Vernon Athletic Park (GVAP) in August 2022 for the first Kal Tire Kalamalka Bowl and watched the UBC Thunderbirds defeat the Calgary Dinos in the first Canadian university football exhibition game played in the North Okanagan.

The T-Birds will be back to defend their Kalamalka Bowl title on Wednesday, Aug. 23, when they will take on the University of Alberta Golden Bears from Edmonton at GVAP.

“UBC is excited to return to Vernon in 2023 and again compete in the Kalamalka Bowl,” said Thunderbirds head coach Blake Nill. “This showcase of university athletics will provide growth in our sport, and exemplify the relevance that sport, specifically football, can have.”

UBC defeated Calgary 28-10.

The Bears will come to the game with former Vernon Panthers running back Joe Murphy in tow. Murphy signed with Alberta for the 2023 seasons.

“The University of Alberta football Program is very excited about to the opportunity to participate in the 2023 Kalamalka Bowl,”said Bears head coach Chris Morris. “The game gives us the opportunity to compete against one of the top teams in the nation and give the Vernon community a first-hand look at Canada West Football.

“Canada West is the most competitive conference in the nation, and this is a great opportunity for the student athletes on both teams to showcase their hard work, commitment, and passion for the sport.

The Kalamalka Bowl Society is also excited to announce that it has received a three-year commitment from Kal Tire as the game’s title sponsor. Founded in 1953 and named after Kalamalka Lake, Kal Tire has grown into an international business, with more than 6,500 employees working in 19 countries, is Canada’s largest independent tire dealer and one of North America’s largest commercial tire dealers.

“The inaugural Kal Tire Kalamalka Bowl was a huge success and our team was inspired by the response from the community,” said Ryan Paulson from Kal Tire. “The feedback we received from many who were involved or attended the game helped us realize that this is exactly the type of annual event we need here in Vernon.

“We’re thrilled to come on board as the title sponsor for the next three years to build on the success from year one and ensure we can keep bringing this fun event back for the great people in the North Okanagan.”

Added Sean Smith, Kalamalka Bowl Society president: “We’re thrilled to continue our partnership with Kal Tire and having a three-year commitment allows for long term stability moving forward for what has become a major event on the Vernon community calendar.”

Okanagan Springs Brewery has signed on to be the event’s beer garden sponsor.

After being named the 2022 Kal Tire Kalamalka Bowl Most Outstanding Player, UBC’s Giovanno Manu turned in a stellar 2022 season and is currently projected to be drafted No. 15 overall in the May 2023 CFL Draft. His star teammate on the offensive line, Theo Benedet, is projected to go No. 8. However, both players have opted out of the 2023 CFL draft and elected to play for UBC for one more season before declaring for the 2024 draft.

Benedet had a particularly special year winning the J.P. Metras Trophy as U Sports’ top lineman and was also selected for the prestigious East-West Shrine Bowl in Las Vegas, reserved for the top players from the NCAA. With his potential and current resumé, Benedet is considered a true NFL prospect.

The Kalamalka Bowl Society is currently soliciting sponsorship opportunities to support this event.

Tickets for the exhibition game will go on sale June 1 through the Kal Bowl website.

Ssee for more information on the event and sponsorship.

READ MORE: PHOTOS: UBC Thunderbirds win historic football game in North Okanagan

READ MORE: Kal Tire Kalamalka Bowl has Okanagan taste

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About the Author: Vernon Morning Star Staff

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