While being an elite-level athlete offers many benefits — travel, exposure and top-notch training — it doesn’t come cheap.
And most athletes at this level, especially those still in high school, typically cannot afford to work due to their strict training regimens.
So a local non-profit society is hoping to help change that.
PacificSport Fraser Valley wants to help ease that burden for local athletes who are looking to take the next step in their athletic endeavors.
They have launched an Adopt an Athlete program, which matches businesses with local athletes.
“We are trying to find new ways of helping those athletes get to the next level,” explained Jared Kope, PacificSport Fraser Valley’s executive director.
“It is finding new ways of helping them on their path.”
“The cost of being an high performance athlete is expensive,” added James Palframan, PacificSport Fraser Valley’s director of development.
“One day you are qualifying for a final (in your sport) and then you are off to Qatar. With local athletes, it is really a tough expense.”
“We are hoping to make an impact and make a difference with these local athletes,” Palframan added.
PacificSport Fraser Valley, which is headquartered out of the Langley Events Centre, is a not-for-profit regional sports hub for athletes, coaches and community sport services. It is focused on supporting local athletes in their quest to win medals for Canada.
There are currently more than 260 registered athletes and coaches who are part of PacificSport Fraser Valley.
That list includes a pair of Langley Olympic and Paralympic athletes in Lisa Roman (rowing) and Tessa Popoff (sitting volleyball) who both competed in Rio this past summer.
The Meadow Ridge Moose, of the South Coast Women’s Hockey League, were the first to get involved with the Adopt an Athlete program.
“The Moose chose to contribute to the program to help an athlete who might otherwise lack the resources to pursue his or her sports dreams or even participate at all,” explained Audrey Cockrill, the general manager of the Moose.
“We all know that the cost of sport can sometimes be too much for a young person and their family and we just wanted to help alleviate that burden for at least one person.”
There are five different donation levels for a business to choose from — gold ($1,000), silver ($500), bronze ($300), red and white ($150) or custom, where they set how much they would like to contribute. Contributors do receive a tax receipt for their donation, and if they are a bronze level or higher contributor, they also will be given a framed adopt an athlete certificate.
The donation money will be used for scholarships, grants, and training and services for the athletes, allowing them to focus on their performance goals and not worry as much about the many other challenges of being an elite athlete.
“(The program) provides a very direct way to help other athletes and the Moose are happy to be able to make a small contribution to it (and) we’re hopeful others will also contribute if they can,” Cockrill said.
For more information on the program, email Palframan or click here.