Okanagan Mission Secondary volleyball coach Paul Thiessen cheering his team on during the high school AAA playoffs. (Contributed)

OKM volleyball coach a provincial award winner

Paul Thiessen receives BC School Sports Merit Award for 2021-22

Paul Thiessen has cut a legendary swath in high school volleyball circles during his teaching career.

But, his involvement beyond volleyball as an advocate for high school sports has led him to be named a recipient of the BC School Sports Merit Award for 2020-21, revealed at the Central Okanagan Public Schools board of education meeting Wednesday (June 9).

Thiessen, a teacher at Okanagan Mission Secondary (OKM), has coached volleyball at the school and club levels for more than 30 years, said Derek Lea, principal of OKM.

Thiessen has also been athletic director at OKM for many years, is actively involved in the Okanagan Central Schools Athletic Association, serving as president for the past six years, and has sat on organizing and planning committees for a variety of sports provincial championships, Lea said.

“He is an exceptional teacher but the relationships and effort he has made beyond the classroom to support students and support them in athletics has been outstanding,” Lea said.

“Given his commitment his entire career to this kind of work, this award is a significant honour by his colleagues in recognition of the countless hours he has given for student-athletes.”

Thiessen acknowledged the support of the school district for sports programs.

“I do it for love of sport and the connection it makes with kids and the community,” Thiessen said.

“It is my turn to give back. I have one more year before I retire so I hope next year we are all back playing sports in school.”

Susan Bauhart, president of the Central Okanagan Teachers Association, saluted Thiessen, saying she looks forward to seeing him inducted at some point into the BC Sports Hall of Fame.

Kevin Kaardal, superintendent/CEO of Central Okanagan Public Schools, noted Thiessen was actively involved in a huge change in the B.C. high school sports governance model to help serve student-athletes better.

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