Kelowna-born Evan Guthrie, 25, has been racing bikes since he was 12 years old. In 2009, at age 18, he was already a four-time national champion in cross-country mountain biking and cyclo-cross.
That same year he earned a silver medal in team relay at the World Championships and was named BC Male Mountain Biker of the Year.
Seven years later, Guthrie is still competing on the national and international stage, while juggling life as a full-time student. He’s currently completing a diploma in Business Administration at Okanagan College and will graduate next year.
With national championships on the horizon this summer and a busy competitive season that extends well into the fall, Guthrie has already chalked up one of his most rewarding victories this year: He recently launched a scholarship fund to help student athletes pursue their dreams.
As a graduate of Mount Boucherie Secondary who now lives in Peachland, Guthrie said, “As someone born and raised in the Okanagan, it means a lot to me to be able to support our local student athletes. It was also a priority to me to make this happen early in my career. I drew inspiration from other local athletes, like Kelsey Serwa, who have done the same, while still very young. I thought ‘Why wait?’”
As a high school student, Guthrie received a bursary founded by Kristi Richards, an Olympic freestyle skier from Summerland. Guthrie credits receiving the award as one of his earliest inspirations to create his own fund one day.
“I just find the idea of athletes giving back and supporting other youth athletes inspiring,” he said. “I’m so grateful for the support I received, and my hope is that young athletes will use this support to continue reaching for their dreams, as I did.”
Guthrie approached the Central Okanagan Foundation to set up an annual award to benefit young athletes. The criteria for the award is focused on athletics and good sportsmanship rather than marks, and athletes can apply it toward post-secondary tuition, books and fees, or purely toward athletic costs while in school.
“I wanted the criteria to be flexible and allow a wide array of young people to apply,” Guthrie explained. “School wasn’t something that came naturally to me, but heading back to college as a mature student I have come to appreciate the doors that education can open in our lives and careers.”
Guthrie says his business education at Okanagan College has helped enhance his personal marketing as an athlete, and has also upped his confidence when it comes to managing the financial side of his business.
“Being an athlete is very similar to owning a small business. Some of the skills and knowledge I’ve picked up at the college have helped me further my career, no question.
“But above all, being a student has reminded me that none of us get where we are going alone. We all need a little help along the way.”
Guthrie notched a seventh place finish at National Championships in Baie-Saint-Paul, Quebec on July 14 and will compete in the Canada Cup in St. Felicien this weekend.
“As a Youth Olympic athlete and having experienced national sport, I know the amount of determination and perseverance that it has taken for Evan Guthrie to get to the level he’s at in his sport,” Banser said. “I am thrilled and feel truly honoured to be the inaugural award recipient of Evan Guthrie’s scholarship.”
Bruce Davies, executive director of the Central Okanagan Foundation said: “We’re tremendously proud and appreciative of the growing number of young people like Evan Guthrie who are looking at how they can make a positive impact in their surrounding communities. They are lighting and carrying the philanthropic torch among their generation.”
Guthrie also joins other numerous Okanagan College students and alumni who are making an impact early on.
“We’ve had students complete their programs and immediately set up awards,” said Kathy Butler, executive director of the Okanagan College Foundation. “These are young people in the early stages of their careers, who often do not have a great deal of money, but who are finding ways to give back. I think that speaks to the quality of young citizens we’re fortunate to have in the Okanagan and to the value they place on education.”