The program is extremely proud to be graduating 3 outstanding seniors this year: Jasdeep Gill, Dallas Karch and Thomas Cooper. All three have made outstanding contributions to the program - Dallas and Jasdeep for 5 years, and Thomas for the past 2.
They're all extremely grateful for the experience at the U of C and the Men's Basketball Program. Each has provided us with a tribute letter to share with our Alumni and all program supporters.
I wish I could give a speech instead of writing a letter because I have so many things to say. The city and University of Calgary has been so welcoming to me since the day I arrived and I couldn't be more thankful. My life has been like a extended vacation with all the places I've been and I am proud to say that Calgary is my favorite of them all. The support that I have received here is unreal and it continues to grow even as I prepare to depart again. The memories that I made here are memories that will stick with me for the rest of my life.
Last year when we won the Canada West Championship, I cried tears of joy because I worked so hard to get here. Coach Dan was the first person I thought about and I remember running over to him and hugging him for a long time. Most people don't know that he waited on me for two years to get my life together so I could be a Dino. I always tell him he's like a second dad to me because he has taken care of me so much since the day we've met and he's had my back like nobody else has before. He's the best coach I've ever had and I don't think anything in my future would ever change that.
Before every game, when the national anthem comes on, I bow my head and pray. One thing I tell God that I'm thankful for is being a Dino. I always tell God that I would not want to play for any other team in the world and I mean that will all my heart. I wouldn't rather go to war with any other teammates than the ones I have by my side every single night no matter if we win or lose. Playing for this University has taught me about unity and loyalty more than anything. I came here alone, but I will leave with an even bigger family than I could have imagined.
I want to say thank you to our coaches who come to practices and games to coach us daily and guide us to be the best team we can be. My teammates for being like brothers and expanding my game on the court and being great friends off the court. Thank you to the alumni supporters who literally support us with everything everywhere we go. And thank you to the University of Calgary for giving me a home these past two years. I hope the people here remember me, because I will surely remember this entire experience forever.
I remember on the first day of practice entering this year one of my teammates came up to me and said “Hey, this is your last ‘first practice of year’ ever.” I didn’t think much of it at the time but looking back it feels like just a month ago that was said to me. As I sit down and reflect on my journey of basketball it begins to hit me the end is upon me.
Growing up in Calgary, the Dinos were the team everyone looked up too and idolized. I started attending games when I was around 12 years old but at that age I seemed more interested in running around the track and playing basketball on the side hoops. As I grew older and my interest in basketball grew stronger, I knew U of C was the school I wanted to represent.
Coming in as a first year I didn’t know what to expect when it came to practices, workouts and school work. But for each thing I didn’t know there was a teammate to help me out and push me along the way. These relationships with teammates will stay with me for a long time and I know I will have people I can count on. These relationships will also be what I miss most about playing for the Dinos. Sitting in the locker room cracking jokes about the weekend before, reminiscing on stories we have gone through together and generally being in each other’s company.
My 5 years here have been truly special and pushed me to grow as a person through adversity. Memories like spending New Years in Germany with my teammates in my second year to winning a CanadaWest Championship and playing on national television in the CIS finals will stay with me for the rest of my life.
This journey would not have been possible without the support of a variety of different people so I finish by saying thanks. Thanks to my coaches, my teammates and all the support staff that helped me along the way. Thanks to the donors that allowed me to focus on basketball and school without having to worry about financials. Thanks to my family that rarely missed a home game and traveled across Western Canada to watch and support me. Thanks to everyone that had an impact on my five years at the University of Calgary. I can look back at my time here and know it was a great success and an exceptional experience.
As my fifth and final season as a University of Calgary Dino comes to an end, it only seems fitting to stop and reflect on this tremendous journey. Coming in as a 17-year-old boy playing alongside grown men (some ten years older than myself) to leaving a 22-year-old man as a leader on this team, I cannot express how grateful I am to have been a part of such an amazing program and culture at the University of Calgary. Living in Chestermere, just east of Calgary I spent many days after school driving to the University of Calgary to play for the Jr. Dinos and train with coach Craig Anderson, as well as many Friday and Saturday evenings taking in Dinos games and envisioning myself one day in their shoes. As my grade 12 year rolled around it only seemed fitting to continue my journey as a Dino and sign with the University of Calgary, as Coach Dan Vanhooren and many guys from the team had already become family.
Being a Dino at the University of Calgary had become a lifestyle and largely shaped the way that I lived my life for the past 5 years, and although it may seem easy now I know that when my final game as a Dino has come to an end I will look back and miss all the great memories I have had during my time. I will miss all the evening practices throughout the years, the film sessions on Mondays, the challenging strength and conditioning workouts with Rich, the road trips on the bus, the summer camps and scrimmages, the going out and celebrating a sweep on the road with the guys, but most importantly I will cherish all the lifelong relationships I have built through my time as a Dino.
Being a Dino has not only taught me how to be a better basketball player on the court but also a better person in the team room, classroom, and the community. It has helped me discover more about myself and shaped me into who I am as a person today. It has taught me the values of discipline and commitment which are both extremely essential in all aspects of life. As I look back at where I once started, to where I am today, and even further into the future and the opportunities that have opened as a result of my time as a Dino I can say that I am extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity to play as a Dino. In a few short months, I will be graduating from the Haskayne School of Business with a major in Accounting and starting up the next chapter of my life. I will be pursing my CPA designation at Deloitte locally in downtown Calgary starting next fall.
In closing, I would simply like to say thank you. To all the family, friends, coaches, teammates, trainers, mentors, alumni, donors, and fans who have continually supported and pushed me to become the person I am today. Each and every one of you have left a unique mark on my five-year journey as a Dino that I will never forget, and for that I am forever thankful. I can proudly say that I leave this program at the University of Calgary a better person than when I had arrived, not only as a basketball player but in all aspects of life. I look forward to continuing the many great relationships I have been able to make, and I can say with great pride that I will always be a Dino! Thank you!
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