Kelowna speed skater Nick Goplen was among four athletes to be awarded a $2,000 bursary this month as part of Pacific Western Brewing’s Community Foundation Hometown Heroes Program.
The presentation ceremony on Friday night at the Terminal City Club in Vancouver was headlined by four-time Olympic medalist Denny Morrison.
PWB is an official sponsor of the 2015 Canada Winter Games and plans to award bursaries to 16 heroes in all between now and the start of the Games in Prince George.
Goplen is currently attending the University of Calgary where he is seeking a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences. Due to a heavy training and travel schedule associated with being a high performance speed skater, he can only take a maximum of three courses at a time. Regardless he is on track to complete his BSc by 2018 just in time for the Pyung Chang Olympics. Then it’s on to medical school.
His accomplishments to date include: 2014 North American Champion (5000m), 4th (500, 1000); 2014 Olympic Trials 10th (5000m), 18th (1500m); 2013 Fall World Cup Trials 8th (5000m); 2012 North Americans 3rd (5000m); 2012 Canada Cup 1st (1500m) and 2011/2012 and 2012/2013 BC Speed Skating Association male athlete of the year.
Goplen says being the top skater to come out of the Okanagan and an honours student coming out of Okanagan Mission Secondary who is focused on the tough job of achieving the pre-requisite grades for medical school, demonstrates that he is dedicated to reaching not only athletic goals, but academic ones too.
On top of the demands of his sport and his education Goplen manages to coach in his community. “I have spent many years serving as a mentor to younger skaters within the Okanagan and lead dry land sessions for the Kelowna Speed Skating Club from May to September,” he says.
“This past summer I began volunteering at the Connect Centre in Lake Country to help people who have been through head trauma. Connect serves as a halfway point between the hospital and independent living for people who have suffered minor to severe brain injuries. I plan to volunteer with Connect again this summer once I return home,” Goplen says.