Thrive Here video celebrates lessons learned in a 'classroom like no other'

By College Relations | March 8, 2024

Ali Martineau and AJ Nguoth

For 20-year-old AJ Nguoth, playing basketball is about more than jump shots and free throws.

On the court, Nguoth says he works through real life struggles as he's putting his energy into the game. Playing basketball is also a reminder that he is on the right path. The sport has been his north star since he was 11, keeping him focused on school and inspiring him to dream big for his life.

Nguoth, an Okanagan College Coyotes Basketball player and first-year OC student, is one of several student athletes featured in a new video by the Okanagan College Foundation highlighting the importance of sport and activity in teaching life lessons.

The video supports the Thrive Here campaign to build a new Recreation and Wellness Centre on the Kelowna campus. OC President Neil Fassina says the Recreation and Wellness Centre will be an important addition, distinct from other classrooms.

“The Recreation and Wellness Centre will foster belonging and community, helping our students thrive in their education and their future endeavours,” he says. “We’re looking forward to the activity and excitement it will bring to campus.”

World-champion curler Sasha Carter is featured in the video and recalls her mother putting her in every sport imaginable when she was young. Carter says she didn’t excel at all of them but learned the importance of showing up and trying her best. It wasn’t until university that Carter’s dedication paid off, propelling her curling career to an international level including becoming a two-time world champion.

Carter says whether you play competitively or just for fun, sport and activity brings people together and has the potential to create lifelong bonds.

“It is where I found my village. It is where I knew I could handle life and I could do hard things. It is where I learned who I am,” says Carter, development manager with the Okanagan College Foundation.

Ali Martineau is a fourth-year Business Administration student who credits her time on the court to learning how to adapt and pivot when things don’t go as planned.

Martineau was injured her first year playing on the women’s basketball team and couldn’t play the rest of the season. As a result, Martineau had to find other ways she could contribute to her team. Her perseverance paid off as Martineau along with the rest of the OC Women’s Basketball team are heading to the nationals March 13-15.

Cliff Serwa, a co-founder of Big White, also makes a cameo. Cliff, along with his wife Lois, are honorary chairs for the Thrive Here campaign and have donated $500,000 to the project. They are now offering to match all donations from the community up to an additional $500,000.

“[Sport] is where I learned never to give up, to work hard, and make my dreams come true,” says Cliff.



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