Down to short strokes for Heat golf team

UBCO golfers are hosting a fundraiser May 28 at Michaelbrook Ranch

It’s been a long and arduous journey since the UBC Okanagan Heat golf team found out in February its funding had been pulled by the university.

But McKenna Lesiuk can see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Heat golfers are in the process of trying to raise $40,000, the university’s cost of fielding a program for the 2017-18 PACWEST season.

Still more than $20,000 short of their goal, the 10-member UBCO team is hosting a second fundraiser, Battle of the Valley II, on Sunday, May 28 at Michaelbook Ranch.

Lesiuk said she and her teammates have put in too much work over the last three months to see anything other than a positive outcome.

“We’ve just put in so much effort, we’re not going to take no for an answer ,” said Lesiuk, one of four female members with the Heat program. “We’re past the point of no return and we’re not going to quit.

“We’ve all been working really hard, both (teammate) Lauren (Siemers) and I gave up a lot of school to do this,” added Lesiuk, “so there’s a lot riding on it.”

Lesiuk said the opportunity to compete at the varsity level in B.C. is one the Heat team can’t allow to slip by.

“We’ve all grown up playing golf, we love the game and our window to play at this level is pretty short,” Lesiuk said.

“(University) is the highest level a lot of us will play, not a lot of opportunities like this, so we don’t want to lose that.”

UBCO’s decision to pull funding from the Heat was directly due to budgetary constraints, rather than the competitive success of the program.

Two years ago, the women’s team finished second at the CCAA nationals. Last season, James Casorso won a PACWEST tournament, placed second at provincials and was named a CCAA men’s team all-Canadian.

Lauren Siemers would like nothing more than to see the Heat back on the course challenging for titles in the fall of 2017.

“We’re all passionate about playing the sport,” said Siemers. “We know it’s a game we can play all our lives, so it’s just part of us. We don’t want to miss out on something as important as (competing in PACWEST).”

Both Lesiuk and Siemers credit Cheryl Stecko, events coordinator at the Kelowna Golf and Country Club, for doing much of the leg-work in the fundraising efforts to allow the Heat to get back on the course next season.

The May 28 fundraiser includes wine tastings, light snacks and a first prize raffle draw for four rounds of golf at the Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club.

Advance tickets are $30 each, or $40 at the door.

Tickets are available at Michaelbrook Ranch, by calling Cheryl at 250-863-4883 or sending an email to sstecko@telus.net.

To see more details, see the Battle of the Valley 2 Facebook page HERE.