In 1972, Steve Pettifer worked out in the Langara Gym for an audience which included then-national team head coach Jack Donohue. (Photo courtesy Steve Pettifer)
Feature Podcast

VL Podcast 03.03.21: Centennial’s Steve Pettifer reflects on playing days at SFU and UBC, and a 40-year high school coaching career!

Welcome to the Varsity Letters podcast. There is no better time than this week, one traditionally reserved for the B.C. senior girls basketball championships, to catch up with former Centennial head coach Steve Pettifer, who in the last 1980s, led the Centaurs to five straight provincial Final Fours, including a pair of titles. Pettifer, brought […]

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)
Feature Podcast

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 […]

A cancelled 2020-21 U SPORTS season will wind up being the final one for UBC's Gabrielle Laguerta. (Photo by Richard Lam property of UBC athletics 2021. All Rights Reserved)
Feature High School Girls Basketball University Women's Basketball

UBC’s Gabrielle Laguerta: Despite her battle scars and lost senior season, ‘Birds senior celebrates the silver lining of basketball’s shared experience

VANCOUVER —As Gabrielle Laguerta has gone about playing her role in the strangest year of our lives, UBC’s fifth-year senior guard has so often felt like an actor rehearsing her lines for a Broadway production she knows  will never see the light of opening night.“I’ll come off a good practice where I’ve tried out this […]

In February of 1952, Bill Russell (right, pictured in his USF days) came to B.C. with a touring California high school all-star team, playing teams like B.C. champion Duke of Connaught. Vancouver's John Oliver Secondary gym played host to one of the games. (Photo graphic by Gabriel Lynn property of VarsityLetters.ca 2020. All Rights Reserved)
Feature High School Boys Basketball University Men's Basketball

A SUNDAY READ: It’s no fable! In 1952, before his 11 NBA championship rings, a 17-year-old Bill Russell toured B.C. high schools and discovered his hoops identity!

Malcolm Reid had heard the story many, many basketball moons ago.Last week, the head coach of the Vernon Panthers’ senior boys basketball team recounted it to me, and just like the day he first heard it from a man named Dick Abbott, it almost sounded like a fable.Earlier this month, Abbott — the father-in-law of […]

The pandemic may have scrubbed the 2020 B.C. senior girls volleyball season, but nothing can stop the Varsity Letters annual B.C. Super 15 poll. Among this season's top players are (left to right) Kelowna Owls' Anya Pemberton and Madison Shanks, Sydney Wright of Surrey's Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers, Madison Gardner of Vernon's W.L. Seaton Sonics and Eva Person of Victoria's Stelly's Stingers. (Photo by Paul Yates property of Vancouver Sports Pictures 2020. All Rights Reserved)
Feature High School Girls Volleyball

Our 12th annual edition: Who are B.C.’s Top 15 Grade 12 girls volleyball players? Check out our 2020-21 Dream Team!

LANGLEY — Way back in December of 2009, when UBC Thunderbirds’ head coach Doug Reimer floated an idea past me to honour the best girls and boys high school volleyball players in B.C. on an annual basis, little did either of us know that a dozen years later, the concept would be as fresh today […]

MEI's Hunter Arulpragasam was the fastest rising talent in B.C. boys high school volleyball. Check out where the Eagles' senior finished in our annual coaches poll of the province's best boys senior talent. (Photos by Paul Yates and Jon Hayduk property of Vancouver Sports Pictures 2020. All Rights Reserved)
Feature High School Boys Volleyball

Our 12th annual edition: Who are B.C.’s Top 15 Grade 12 boys volleyball players? Check out our 2020-21 Dream Team!

It’s Year No. 12 for the Varsity Letters’ B.C. boys Super 15 senior boys volleyball player rankings.Once again, our sincere thanks go out to the head coaches of four B.C. men’s Canada West volleyball programs who cast their votes from a pool of this province’s top graduating Grade 12 talent.COVID-19’s appearance on the scene could […]

Just nine days after facing each other in a pivotal Game 6 of the 1958 NBC Finals, Boston's Bob Cousy (left) and St. Louis' Bob Pettit opposed each other on the floor at UBC's War Memorial Gymnasium as part of the league's 21-game tour of non-NBA cities. Vancouver was the tour's only Canadian stop. (Photos copyright NBA Photo Library/NBAE via Getty Images. All Rights Reserved)
Feature High School Boys Basketball University Men's Basketball

A Sunday Read: In 1958, UBC hosted the greatest group of NBA talent in B.C. history! Here’s how 15 future Hall of Famers hit the parquet at War Memorial Gym!

VANCOUVER — Cloudy, sunny periods, scattered showers, and a chance of … a lifetime.Excuse my indulgences today as I supplement the weather forecast of a certain spring day here almost 63 years ago because through the gift of hindsight, it all seems especially apropos.April 21, 1958.That’s the day on which perhaps the most amazing collection […]

A three-sport man who also dabbles on the ice and in the sprints, Vancouver College's Ben Kolb has found his niche as the Fighting Irish's kicker and punter. (Photo by Howard Tsumura property of Varsity Letters 2020. All Rights Reserved)
Feature High School Football University Football

The singular focus of Ben Kolb: VC Fighting Irish’s UBC-bound kicker wears his ‘thinking cap’ inside his helmet as BCHSF’s 2020 Academic Player of Year!

VANCOUVER — Whether he’s wearing a football helmet or just his plain, old thinking cap, Ben Kolb is a study in focus.“I do think there are a lot of similarities between challenging classes and the pressure you experience on the football field,” the senior kicker/punter with the Vancouver College Fighting Irish explained Thursday over the […]

Thirty years ago this month, UBC's J.D. Jackson (centre) played on the same floor at B.C. Place Stadium as UNLV superstars Stacey Augmon (left) and Larry Johnson. (Photo graphic by Gabriel Lynn property of Varsity Letters 2020. All Rights Reserved)
Feature High School Boys Basketball University Men's Basketball

A Sunday Read: Why Dec. 1, 1990 – the day the UNLV Rebels came to town – was the day Vancouver came of age as a basketball city!

VANCOUVER — I can still remember the day that the late, great Jim Taylor, the newspaper sports columnist of my youth and later a co-worker at The Province newspaper, invited me over to his Vancouver home so that I might conduct an interview for a feature story I wanted to write on him for my […]

UBC Thunderbirds quarterback Billy Greene. (Photo by Rich Lam property of UBC athletics 2020. All Rights Reserved)
Feature University Football

The VL Podcast welcomes Billy Greene: The former UBC quarterback reflects on Shrum Bowl 2010, Holy Cross and Hec Crighton award!

Welcome back to Varsity Letters – The Podcast. Earlier this week, we let you — our loyal listening audience — know all about our themed, two-part discussion with a pair of past B.C. football greats, who each happened to have played in the last contested Shrum Bowl… way back in 2010! My, how a decade […]