Graduating Seniors Farewell

26 Jan 2016 2:29 PM | Robbie Sihota (Administrator)

Matt Letkeman

"Like anything in life it seems we are never fully able to appreciate the preciousness and beauty of something until it begins to fade or not until it is gone altogether. In my 6th year with the University of Calgary my Dino career clock is making its last pass. With each passing practice, road trip and game I am humbled and evermore thankful for the 6 years that I have had the privilege and honour to call myself a Dino. When I was just beginning my basketball Journey in Chilliwack BC at the age of 15, I remember going to my first ever CIS basketball game. The red and white giants, who to me at the time seemed like superheroes, carried the Dino name with pride and honour. Ironically 3 years later I would share this same honour and embark on a six-year journey wearing the Dino name proudly. 

Representing the Dino program has always been so much more than just playing basketball. Coming in as a rookie I soon learned that this commitment entailed much outside the realm of the game. The importance of the community, the campus, and the classroom became an important focus supplementing what was to be done on the court. Shortly after a successful first year and a summer stint with the Jr. National team I realized how basketball could not be my cornerstone in life. Shocking medical news forced me to face the very real reality that I may never play this game I loved again. With a newly found faith and through series of miraculous events, I had been given a second opportunity to step back onto the court and play. Through these trials I came to greatly appreciate the opportunity to play at such a high level with such high caliber players. 

Looking back it is not the wins or the losses that I will remember but all the relationships and friendships that have been forged over the years. The stories from the road, the moments in the locker room where guys are in tears laughing so hard, and the bonds which have formed with many brothers along the way. 

One of the biggest lessons I have learned as a Dino has been commitment. I have learned that its not always ‘fun’ and passion will not win out every time. There have been many times where I have not been eagerly excited to shoot, lift, practice or sit through a 3 hour lecture, but it is the relationships and the bond to something greater than myself that has always brought me back and pushed me forward to be fully committed to the team and the program throughout the years. 

Although the time to clean out my locker and take off my jersey is drawing near, I am even more proud to leave as a Dino and make room for the next one to rise up and fully embrace the Dino experience."

Josh Owen-Thomas

"It hasn't quite struck me yet that, in a few short months, my Dino's basketball career - around which my life has revolved over the past four and a half years - will come to an abrupt end. 4pm daily practices, strength and conditioning training with Rich Hesketh, Friday and Saturday night games under coach Vanhooren, road trips, working hard and messing around with my teammates, heading out to Cowboys or Commonwealth (occasionally, of course) after a hard fought win with the boys...poof! Soon it'll all end. I'll receive a certificate saying that I graduated from the University of Calgary with a degree in English, I'll say my many goodbyes, and I'll hop on a plane headed both for my home in Adelaide, Australia, and the next chapter of my life, whatever that may be (hopefully millions of dollars and a super model wife - I think I deserve it. I guess I'll soon find out).

As I'm writing it out now, it sounds easy. But I know that it won't be. When the buzzer sounds at the end of my last game as a Dino, and I realize that my career wearing number 9 for the University of Calgary is truly over, it'll hit me; not only will I be leaving the team, my teammates, friends, and the university behind, but, most importantly, I'll be leaving behind a way of life and a culture that has shaped the person I've become ever since I arrived in the summer of 2011, a skinny nineteen year old excited to study and play abroad.

As a player on any sports team, you can learn what it takes to become better both as an individual and as a team; dedication, sacrifice, hard work, loyalty. As a Dino, however, you learn how to apply these things both on the court and off; in the community, at home, in the classroom or the workplace. You make friends along the way, ride the highs and brave the lows, and share experiences that shape you and change you. And as it nears its end, and you think your five years over, as I am doing now, you take note of where you began, where you are, and look ahead to where you want to be, and you notice the significant impact that the program has had on your life and how you've lived it. It has helped me discover both who I am and who I'm not, and has helped lay the foundations for my future. 

I am incredibly grateful to have been given the opportunity to play for the Dinos at the University of Calgary and hope that the player that wears number 9 next season, and then the season after that, experiences what I have as a member of the program. I hope he realizes how lucky he is, as I have, and makes the most of a wonderful opportunity. 

Finally, I'd like to say thanks. Thanks to the university, to my coaches, to our alumni supporters, to my friends, to my teammates. You've all made these past five years special for me in one way or another and I will never forget my time playing for the Dinos. I will leave Calgary in April as a better person and basketball player thanks to you and I look forward to catching up with you again in the near future, wherever we may be in our lives"


  • 04 Feb 2016 9:29 AM | Ross Bekkering
    Wish I could be there for seniors night! You two have been great role models for the program, stay in the moment these last few weeks and use your gratitude as fuel for one last push!
    Link  •  Reply

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