For a five members on the University of Calgary Dinos football team,the pre-season game against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds is a chance to perform in front of many family and friends.
It is also is a chance to play another game on the field where they had so much success in high school at Vernon Secondary.
The game between the Dinos and UBC marks the first time the North Okanagan has hosted a Canadian U-Sports bootball game. The contest is called the Kal Tire Kalamalka Bowl with game time being 7 p.m. at Greater Vernon Athletic Park tonight (Wednesday, Aug. 24).
The Dinos started their preparation for the Canada West regular season and the pre-season game Sunday, Aug. 21, with the commencement of training camp that consists of two practices daily at McMahon Stadium.
Receiver Zack Smith, offensive lineman Brady Szeman, and linebacker Liam Reid were all members of the Vernon Panthers Provincial 2A Championship team in 2018 and 2019 coached by Sean Smith. They were also Junior Provincial Champions in 2017.
Rookie receiver Roan Reid, younger brother of Liam, is a freshman on the 2022 team, but due to the Coquihalla Highway damage the Panthers could only play in the BC Interior final in 202, losing at GVAP 21-20 to Kelowna Secondary Owls.
Also suiting up for Calgary will be former Panther defensive end Josh Hyer, who won a Vanier Cup national championship with the Dinos in 2019. Former VSS standout Bradley Hladik will suit up for UBC.
For Zack Smith it will be his first action on the road with the Dinos as injuries prevented him from playing in just one game, the home opener, in the shortened 2021 Canada West Conference schedule. Szeman dressed for a road contest in Regina. Smith and Szeman are being counted on to contribute in 2022 with the graduation of several receivers and offensive line personnel.
Liam Reid saw the most action of the trio dressing for the six Conference games. He recorded nine solo tackles, five assisted tackles, two tackles for a loss and a forced fumble.
“I am stoked and excited about coming back to Vernon to play a game,” said Szeman.
All of the former Panthers are anxious to play in front of family, friends, and former teammates in Vernon with a large crowd of nearly 1,500 expected to see the last two teams from Canada West that were Vanier Cup champions, with UBC winning in 2015 and Calgary in 2019.
“The role of the Kalamalka Bowl Society is to bring the highest level of amateur football to the North
Okanagan,” said Malcolm Reid, society vice-president. “This will be the highest level of football ever played in the North Okanagan.
The contest gained national attention when it was mentioned on TSN during the recent Canadian Football League game between the B.C. Lions and Calgary Stampeders on Saturday evening, Aug. 13.
There will be plenty of entertainment on and off the field during the game, including a Kick to Win contest sponsored by Nissan.
Guests of honour for the contest include B.C. Lions standouts, CFL Hall of Famer Jim Young and Jamie Taras, each of whom have their numbers retired by the Lions, and the man who took over Taras’ position at centre, Angus Reid.
A number of alumni from each school will also be on hand to watch the contest.
Festivities kicked off Tuesday night with the teams helping out at a skills camp for high school and minor football players, then attended a meet-and-greet at Polson Park.