Clay Stothers

UBCO Heat golf coach Clay Stothers.

Clay Stothers, a PGA of BC golf teacher of the year recipient, is the new UBC Okanagan Heat golf coach, the school announced Tuesday.

Stothers is director of instruction at The Okanagan Golf Club and has been around UBCO golfers for several years since OGC is home course for the Heat.

OGC's Bear Course is to host the inaugural Canada West golf championships this fall.

"This is a dream opportunity for myself and my family. I am excited to join the Heat family and build a program that has an impact on the community," Stothers said in a news release. "For the past eight years, my focus has been on junior development in the Okanagan. As the new coach, it's going to be an amazing opportunity to help the team members grow as university athletes."

Stothers will be coaching both the men's and women's UBCO golfers. He will be taking over for Cass Hritzuk, who helped establish the program as a top contender when it competed in the PacWest collegiate league. After coaching the Heat golfers for six years, Hritzuk—the 2017 PacWest coach of the year—has stepped down to focus on his burgeoning music career with his band Lucky Monkey.

UBCO athletic director Tom Huisman credited Hritzuk for maintaining the golf program.

"A big thank you must be extended to Cass who not only helped keep the program alive during some tough times in the not so distant past, but who helped establish a strong foundation for the program," Huisman said.

"With the programs move to compete at the Canada West level, the time commitment to coach exceeded Cass's availability. We are beyond happy to have someone as capable and accomplished as Clay to continue the trajectory of making the UBCO Heat golf program among the best in Canada."

Stothers comes to UBCO with a resume that fits the mold of the university's mandate to make a difference in his community. As a teacher and developer of junior programs at OGC, he earned the 2016 PGA of BC Community Leadership Award.

As a certified teacher in the Canadian Professional Golfers Association, he was not only the coach of the year in 2014, but also the 2017 PGA of BC Zone Coach of the Year. 

Eight professional wins highlight Stothers' playing resume, topped off with a PGA of BC Championship title. That first-hand experience of winning as a player will be a great resource for Heat golfers during competition, Huisman said.

Stothers is currently preparing the UBCO women's team for the Golf Canada University and College Championship taking place in Komoka, Ont., from May 28 to 31 at Firerock Golf Club.

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