Former Dino and coach honoured with namesake scholarship

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The University of Calgary men's basketball team recently announced the creation of an endowed scholarship of $50,000 in the name of former assistant coach Wayne Thomas. The announcement, made by Dinos head coach Dan Vanhooren prior to their game against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, came as a complete surprise to Thomas.

"It's a tremendous honour for me to have a scholarship in my name," said Thomas. "Not only a scholarship but an endowment scholarship, so that is going to go on forever or as long as they want it to."

Thomas played for the Dinos basketball team during the 1960s and was a starter on the 1966 Canada West championship team that lost in the former Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union national final 95-83 to the University of Windsor Lancers. To this date, it has been the only Dinos men's basketball team appearance in the national championship final.

One of the goals of the scholarship is to allow the Dinos men's basketball team to recruit higher-caliber players to ensure the continuation of the success that the team is currently enjoying.

"The scholarship itself we hope will provide over $100,000 for the men's basketball team," said Thomas. "That will allow coach Vanhooren to give a scholarship to one or two guys a year and I think that's pretty significant. It's another way that Dan has raised money for the program."

The scholarship has given the team an edge in the hard recruiting world.

"For example, there is a kid named Tyler Fidler who came in this year and he's probably the number one recruit out of high school for the Dinos this year," said Thomas. "We watched, if not all of his games we could get to in Calgary, almost every one of them. The idea would be to touch base with Tyler, talk to him and lay out what we could do for him. What we can do for them is pay their tuition and that's it."

With the off-season recruits of talented players such as Fidler, the Dinos are excited about the basketball season and their chances about a long overdue return to nationals.

"They are certainly ambitious," said Thomas. "They think they have the talent to do it. We'll see if they can follow through with it and with all of those tough games on the road up ahead."