End of an era for TRU Athletics

By Earl Seitz
December 15, 2017 - 2:15pm Updated: December 15, 2017 - 6:05pm

KAMLOOPS — Today marked the end of an era for TRU WolfPack athletics.

It was the last day on the job for Athletic Director Ken Olynyk, before easing into retirement.

"The thought I had this morning was that I probably could have worked until I was 70 -- but I just thought it was time." says Olynyk, who has been the Athletic Director at Thompson Rivers University since October 2003.    He led the athletics department from Canadian College to CIS, now USport.

"At that time we were CCAA.  The referendum passed for the Tournament Capital Centre, so I knew we were going to have great facilities." says Olynyk.

"So the idea was to make application to move our teams to what is considered the highest level of competition for Canada."

It started with basketball and volleyball --- the transition wasn't easy.

For five years the programs in volleyball and basketball were in CIS on probation, required to meet some strict criteria before being granted full and permanent status.

"Normally probation is three years, and I used to make the joke in the meetings that if I was a murderer I would have had to serve less time than I did here on probation", laughs Olynyk.

One thing that worked in TRU's favour was Olynyk's experience --- at the University of Lethbridge and then University of Toronto.    He knew the inner workings of Canada West and CIS(USports).

Under Olynyk's leadership the WolfPack have been leaders in international recruiting.

"I know that in Canada West we were the forerunner --- international is the TRU rule, so to speak." says Olynyk.

In his 14 years as the AD, WolfPack teams have won a Canadian College championship in men's basketball, medalled in USports volleyball and soccer and hosted USports nationals in men's volleyball and soccer.

Says Olynyk, "The one thing I'm very proud of is that we are a USports member, that was the goal ---- not only have we accomplished it, we host great championships."

Now as he moves into retirement Ken Olynyk will have more time with his family, wife Arlene, daughters Jesse and Maya and son Kelly.

So what's the first thing on the bucket list?

"I've never written out a bucket list, but one of the things I'd like to do before my son leaves the NBA, I'd like to see him play in every venue the NBA has a franchise in."

A replacement for Ken Olynyk is yet to be named --- but whoever it is, he would offer this advice, "I think you have great people.  Get to know them and let them do their job --- make sure that you are entwined within the university ---- we've had a great relationship with all the academic units, and I think that's something you want to maintain."

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