Lake City Basketball, now in its fifth year of operations, was looking for a way to recognize the hard work and commitment of its top graduating student-athletes.

As career educators, directors Chris Terris and Dustin Hyde decided to offer a pair of $500 scholarships to recognize the top graduating male and female student-athletes who have been involved in their programs.

“When we began the process of developing criteria for these awards, our driving mantra was to find student-athletes that represented what our organization valued: hard-work, integrity, selflessness and leadership both on and off the court,” Hyde noted.

Evaluation of candidates involved a detailed reading of their online applications, high school report cards, and discussions with coaches and references, as well as a review of applicants’ participation in Lake City programs as both players and volunteers.

“We considered roles on Lake City club teams--including individual success on the court, interaction with coaches and teammates in practices and games, and leadership abilities,” Terris added.

The inaugural 2020 Lake City Basketball female scholarship winner is Megan Freeman from Keremeos. She plans to attend UBC-O following her graduating year, hoping to complete a bachelor of human kinetics on her path to become a physiotherapist.

Freeman has been recognized as the top female athlete, top academic student and outstanding citizen at Similkameen Secondary School. On the court, she’s been a valued member of the Lake CIty U-14, U-15 and U-17 club teams. This fall she’s been making the drive from Keremeos to Summerland every Monday to be a student-coach with the girls’ Grades 5-8 development program.

“I have always had a passion for sports, especially basketball. The coaches at Lake City have pushed me to become a better player every time I step on the court. I’ve built communication skills and grown into a strong leader. Lake City has taught me, physically and mentally, how to be a smart, focused team player,” said Freeman.

The 2020 Lake City Basketball male scholarship co-winners are Richter Heintz from Penticton and Jacob Mullin from Summerland.

“Our intent wasn’t to share this scholarship; however, there was just so little to separate these two outstanding candidates,” said Hyde.

“Both have been outstanding players and leaders in our club system since its inception, both have been tremendous youth coaches and role models for our younger athletes, and each is an outstanding citizen and among the top academic students at their respective schools.”

Both have listed UBC as their top post-secondary choice, and both hope to explore opportunities to play basketball at the post-secondary level.

“Sports overall, and basketball specifically, have shaped me into who I am today. I have crafted a strong work ethic, profound leadership skills and a competitive will to succeed that will lead me in every aspect of my life,” Heintz remarked.

“Basketball has influenced my life tremendously,” added Mullin. “It taught me to be the person I am today with so many lessons that will stick with me for all my future endeavours. I am so grateful to have had amazing coaches and teammates to help me along the journey.”

All three scholarship winners hope to continue their involvement with Lake City as players and youth coaches during their graduating year, provided programs are able to run in the new year.