UBC linebacker Ben Hladik (top) has been wreaking havoc on the field since the moment he set foot on the Point Grey campus. On Tuesday, the Vernon native became a member of his hometown B.C. Lions. Photo by Richard Lam, UBC athletics 2021. All Rights Reserved)
Feature High School Football University Football

CFL Draft 2021: As UBC sends three linebackers to the pros, coach Nill says B.C. Lions got ‘steal of the draft’ in Vernon’s Ben Hladik!

The UBC Thunderbirds have sent players to the Canadian Football League at every position imaginable, yet after Thursday’s draft proceedings were complete, it was pretty hard to not call them Linebacker U.Three Thunderbirds linebackers had their names called, including a homegrown product that UBC head coach Blake Nill could not hold back his praise of.“His […]

UBC linebacker Ben Hladik doing what he does best against the Alberta Golden Bears. (Photo by Bob Frid property of UBC athletics 2021. All Rights Reserved)
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Big Ben’s time: UBC’s Ben Hladik, part of ‘Birds star-studded linebacker class, stops at nothing to impress pro football scouts!

Everything you may have already imagined about the voluminous work ethic of UBC Thunderbirds’ starting middle linebacker Ben Hladik is true.And in case you had any doubt, there’s nothing like a first-hand account from an otherwise non-descript day in the dead of winter, when no one was supposed to be watching, to stoke the fires […]

UBC Thunderbirds head coach Blake Nill feels so much of the team's 2021 identity will stem from the team's play along its trenches. (Photo by Howard Tsumura property of VarsityLetters.ca 2020. All Rights Reserved)
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VL podast 01.27.21: UBC head football coach Blake Nill on celebrating the tradition of Blue & Gold and the promise of a 2021 fall kick-off!

The UBC football nation, just like all of the other tight-knit, tradition-laden programs across Canada, mourned the loss of 2020 university football season. Thunderbirds’ head coach Blake Nill, however, is excited and hopeful for the prospects of a 2021 campaign… that much is obvious as the three-time Vanier Cup national championship-winning coach joins host Howard […]

UBC Thunderbirds head coach Blake Nill says a big part of the COVID 19 era in collegiate sports is helping players navigate all the realities of being a student-athlete during these challenging times. (Photo by Howard Tsumura property of VarsityLetters.ca 2020. All Rights Reserved)
Feature University Football

While smoke-filled air delays UBC football’s first official workout, ‘Birds coach Nill talks a different strategy with players and their families

VANCOUVER — Sitting in his office overlooking Thunderbird Stadium on Tuesday morning, Blake Nill afforded himself a solitary moment to take a deep breath.These days, you can’t take anything for granted.In the midst of the global pandemic, and with its Canada West season already long cancelled, UBC’s veteran head football coach had worked towards Tuesday […]

UBC Thunderbirds head coach Blake Nill feels that if given a safe environment with which to play, that 2020 could be the year that the Shrum Bowl returns after a 10 year absence. (Photo by Howard Tsumura property of VarsityLetters.ca 2020. All Rights Reserved)
There is still hope that players like Fraser Valley Cascades' rising second-year forward Katie Lampen (right) and the rest of the B.C.-based teams in the Canada West women's and men's soccer worlds will be able to play meaningful exhibitions later this fall, if the environment is deemed safe by provincial health, as well as university authorities. (Photo by Dan Kinvig property of University of the Fraser Valley athletics 2019. All Rights Reserved)
Feature University Football University Women's Soccer

Despite a cancelled fall season, B.C.’s Canada West schools keep alive hopes of meaningful inter-province competition!

The Canada West’s fall sports season may have been officially cancelled Monday due to the COVID-19 pandemic, yet some coaches and administrators from the conference’s B.C.-member schools seemed united in their hopeful belief that with a continued flattening of the curve throughout the summer months and all the appropriate green lights flashing, that its core […]

Garrett Rooker, a 6-foot-3 two-sport star at Clear Springs High, just outside of Houston, is headed north to join the UBC Thunderbirds as both a quarterback and guard-forward. (Photo provided by UBC football and Garrett Rooker)
Feature University Football University Men's Basketball

Garrett Rooker: How the UBC Thunderbirds found a Texas 6A-tier football/basketball standout in time for the 2020-21 season!

VANCOUVER — UBC reputation as one of the world’s great universities is certainly no secret to academia’s global community.On Friday, however, that same reputation not only earned the the school a top-flight entrant into its kinesiology program, but a blue-chip high school senior from Texas with the ability to be a difference maker both barking […]

Defensive lineman Kaishaun Carter (left) and receiver/return man Jason Soriano are two of B.C.'s blue-chip graduating Class of 2020 set to begin their university football careers next season with the UBC Thunderbirds. (Photos by Howard Tsumura, Varsity Letters, and Richard Lam, UBC athletics. All Rights Reserved. Photo graphic by Gabriel Lynn)
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A Sunday Read: UBC football coach Blake Nill says Jason Soriano, Kaishaun Carter “…the ones who can make you Coach of the Year”

VANCOUVER — UBC Thunderbirds football in the Blake Nill-era hit its low ebb in 2019, yet four seasons after its rousing, unexpected 2015 Vanier Cup national championship title debut, a second wind has begun to blow through the ranks of the blue and gold.

UBC Thunderbirds head coach Blake Nill, along with the rest of the 'Bird football staff, will go on-line Wednesday to introduce the blue-and-gold program to over 100 current Grades 11 high school standouts as part of its virtual Junior Day. (Photo by Richard Lam property of UBC athletics 2020. All Rights Reserved)
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UBC football 2020: ‘Birds hold ‘virtual’ Junior Day on Wednesday as pandemic forces teams to think outside the box

VANCOUVER — Like all programs headed towards the fall sports season of play, the UBC Thunderbirds football team is keeping the health of everyone involved first and foremost during the coronavirus pandemic.

UBC's second-year defensive back Jaxon Ciraolo-Brown is living up to his potential as a future star. The Hamilton native came up with three interceptions Saturday against the Calgary Dinos. (Photo by David Moll property of Calgary Dinos athletics 2019. All Rights Reserved)
Feature University Football

Thunderbird Stadium was a ‘Land of Opportunity’ for youthful UBC football in 2019, Saturday loss in Calgary turns page on next chapter

In his 20-plus seasons as a U Sports head football coach, Blake Nill has made a habit of his coaching his teams into national-title contention.When exactly the opposite happens to the degree with which it did this season, it’s no wonder that the UBC Thunderbirds’ veteran football boss was having a tough time coming to […]