KELOWNA, B.C. Heat rugby has taken a major step in becoming a top notch athletic program at UBC’s Okanagan campus with the signing of an award winning rugby recruit.
OKM standout and winner of the first ever Courtney Walls Bursary, Sam Overton, turned down offers form more established schools to stay at home and continue to pursue his rugby dreams with the Heat.
“It’s going to be a really good experience to be part of the revolution of rugby at UBC Okanagan,” states Overton as he talks about his choice to attend UBC Okanagan in the fall. “There’s a lot of funding and effort put forward for it this year and I’m really looking forward to be part of it.”
As captain of the OKM Huskies rugby squad he led the team to a 10-1 record and a fifth place finish at the provincial championships, the school’s best ever finish. After the championships, the six foot 195 pound hard running flanker who can also play eight and inside center, was one of 10 recipients of a B.C. Rugby scholarship.
Entering into the Faculty of Management at UBC’s Okanagan campus Sam is preparing to play the role of student athlete and balance his schedule appropriately.
“I’m really going to have to work on organizing my time and stuff and there isn’t going to be as much time sitting at home and watching TV. It’s mainly going to be sport and sitting around studying. That’s something you’ve got to accept going into it,” admits Overton.
Sam’s desire to help build rugby into a major sport at his new school is “the main reason I’m really looking forward to being part of UBCO, as it [the UBC Okanagan Heat] develops into a critical team in BC, and it becomes up there with UBC Vancouver for instance.”
Rob O’Brien, the rugby coach for the Heat and the driving force behind rugby’s growth on campus thinks this is a great place for Overton to develop to his full potential and reach his goals. “We are committed to developing the Heat Rugby Program into one of the best in the country. In order to make this happen, we need to attract top players and retain quality homegrown players such as Sam.” points out O’Brien. “With our program being so young Sam will have an opportunity to play an important role earlier in his university career than he would have at other schools. Despite having a very young team, I honestly believe that our sevens team can finish in the top 4 teams nationally in the next 2 years. Being part of that type of success will be invaluable for a young player.”
With 2012 being an Olympic year and with the sevens rugby identified as an Olympic sport in 2016, Sam can’t help but have playing for his country as a long term goal, “well I’d love that [to play in the Olympics] and I’m going to do everything I can to achieve it. I’ve been working hard at Pinnacle at CNC (The Capital News Centre) and I’ve been having some personal training done by Shane Pizzy. He’s been working me really hard, and with that and working here with UBCO and improving my technical game you know I’m just going to go out play my heart out and see where it can get me I guess .”
Knowing that a big part of rugby on campus will be sevens Sam is planning on utilizing his training with Pinnacle to excel at the faster more cardio intense game. “It takes a lot more fitness and physicality so I’ve been going hard at the gym this summer and have been working on my handling skills and stuff.”
Sam has watched rugby grow since moving to Kelowna over three years ago from England, where rugby is one of the top sports, is excited to help grow the sport at a new and growing university with a new rugby program. Overton loves what he sees in the future of rugby and the way the Canadians play the game.
“Players in Canada put a lot of work ethic [into the sport], and they are a lot more physical then England, and they are fitter as a whole. The rise of Canada’s skill in rugby is just increasing, and it’s really cool to see how a country can develop in a sport with hard work and effort.”
Look for Sam and his new Heat rugby teammates this fall as they will start play in early September; follow them at www.goheat.ca/rugby.
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