The University of British Columbia

Notable Okanagan basketball coaches to lead UBC Okanagan teams

Pictured: Bobby Mitchell (left) and Ken Olynyk (right). Olynyk photo courtesy of TRU WolfPack FLICKR.
Pictured: Bobby Mitchell (left) and Ken Olynyk (right). Olynyk photo courtesy of TRU WolfPack FLICKR.

Long-time assistant Bobby Mitchell and former University of Lethbridge and University of Toronto Head Coach, Ken Olynyk, have been named the interim coaches for the UBC Okanagan Heat basketball teams for the 2018-19 season. 

Bobby Mitchell will helm the Heat women's team as the interim head coach after holding the lead assistant job for the past three seasons and an assistant at UBCO since 2013. 

Ken Olynyk, recently retired athletic director at Thompson Rivers University, will return to a familiar coaching role as he assumes the interim head coaching position for the men's basketball team at UBC Okanagan. 

Both Mitchell and Olynyk will begin their duties as coach effective immediately. 

Bobby Mitchell has been a cornerstone in the development and progression of women's basketball within the Okanagan for the past 15 years and was an obvious choice to lead the Heat in the upcoming season.  

He began his coaching career in 2003 at Vernon Secondary School where he coached the senior girls team to nine consecutive AA Provincial Championship appearances and multiple Okanagan Valley Championships. 

Identifying a need for a competitive environment and opportunity for female players across the Okanagan, Mitchell founded the Okanagan Storm Women's U17 Club program in 2004. The program's mandate was to assist female players across the Okanagan who aspired to pursue their basketball careers at the college and university levels.  

Mitchell's efforts did not go unnoticed and was tapped to lead the inaugural UBCO women's U17 Junior Heat team in 2012, and as the Program Coordinator for the all Junior Heat programs for girls and women since 2015, has been instrumental in the growth and success of the program in a relatively short time.   

With a stellar resume of coaching female basketball in the Okanagan, Bobby Mitchell has become one of the most respected coaches of women's basketball in the region who also has an incredible amount of support from the local and regional basketball communities. 

Ken Olynyk, originally from Revelstoke, B.C., starred in volleyball and basketball as a high school student athlete, before studying at Simon Fraser where he played four years of college basketball. He then played a fifth in Sudbury at Laurentian University under the tutelage of one of Canada's most successful coaches, Ken Shields. 

From Laurentian, Olynyk's coaching career really started to take shape. He spent 10 years through the 1980s producing great teams at Lethbridge, and then over the next 14 seasons he served as the head coach of the University of Toronto's Varsity Blues. In-between, he coached nationally in international competitions including the Canadian junior men's national basketball team from 1983 to 1996. In Toronto, Olynyk also spent one season in the NBA (2002-03) as an observer coach with the Toronto Raptors and head coach Lenny Wilkens. 

Olynyk arrived at Kamloops in 2003 where he led the transformation of the University College of the Cariboo athletic program into the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack that now competes in Canada West and U SPORTS. His tenure at TRU as AD was a period of tremendous change and growth, with support for student-athletes at the top of that list for Ken. 

Olynyk is still very visible in Okanagan basketball, and basketball nationwide. He is the chair and organizer for the Canada Basketball U15 and U17 national championships that are scheduled for Kamloops this Aug. 6-11. Olynyk is also a director for the OLYNYK KLYNYK in Kamloops, a highly sought-after basketball camp now in its sixth year, that features his son Kelly, an NBA star for the Miami Heat, and other professional players and staff. 

Season opens for the UBC Okanagan basketball program on the road with conference games (Oct. 26-27) at Trinity Western.

The Heat's home opener is on Friday, November 2nd, when the Heat host the Brandon Bobcats.