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Getting to know your U SPORTS athletics staff: Jayne Blank, UBC Thunderbirds

U SPORTS Staff

U SPORTS sits down with one key athlete, coach, and staff member of each U SPORTS athletic program in our interview series “Getting to know…”

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  • Name: Jayne Blank
  • School: University of British Columbia
  • Previous job/position: Coordinator, Athlete Services & Compliance
  • Hometown: Langley, B.C.

1. How did you get to your current position, and what do you enjoy most about our job?

You could say it all began back in my undergrad, when I started working as a student-trainer / team manager for our men’s basketball team. Experiencing first hand the dedication and balancing act required to be a university level varsity athlete was eye-opening; it became apparent how important a comprehensive and agile support system is to achieve academic and athletic success. Shortly after graduation, an administrative role presented itself within the UBC Athletics department, and I was excited to continue working with student-athletes on a larger scale.

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Why do I love my job? I get to come to work everyday and be continuously inspired by our student-athletes and everything they achieve. Seeing the growth and development from their first year, through to graduation – it’s such a joy knowing I was able help support them along the way!

2. Who has had the most influence on your career?

There are many people who helped shape my career, but if I had to narrow it down to one person I would say Theresa Hanson, who was the UBC Associate Director at the time (currently Senior Director of Athletics & Recreation at Simon Fraser University). She gave me the chance back in 2011 when she hired me as the Athlete Services Coordinator. She provided me with the tools needed to be successful in this business, but even more important was her contagious passion and continuous mentorship.

3. What is your greatest sporting moment or achievement?

When I completed my first triathlon this past September, complete with an open water swim.

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4. How would you define a UBC Thunderbird student-athlete?

A Thunderbird is a well-rounded student-athlete; they are leaders both and off the field, are dedicated to achieving success, and are passionate about supporting their teammates and fellow ‘Birds.

5. What does success look like for the Thunderbirds athletics program?

Success goes beyond our teams’ performance and standings; success is seeing our athletes’ hard work pay off as they develop into leaders and achieve their academic goals, it’s watching them take on greater roles and investing time in the university, becoming engrained in campus life and student experience, building UBC pride, and community engagement.

6. What’s the biggest challenge you face in today’s sports world?

Staying innovative in the ever-changing sport and university landscape. Every new cohort of students brings different sets of needs and those in supporting roles – ranging from sports medicine teams, student wellness and academic support services need to remain agile and adaptive.

7. Where would you like to see Canadian university sport in the next three to five years?

I would love to see the profile of Canadian university sport increase throughout the country. The student-athletes, coaches and staff across the country are an incredibly dedicated, talented and inspiring group of people. Like anything else, higher profile creates opportunities for new resources to enhance the student-athlete experience and accessibility to services.

8. If you could sit down for dinner with one person in the sports industry (athlete, coach or manager), who would it be? Why? What would you talk about?

This is a tough one! Since I’m currently reading and feeling inspired by Legacy by James Kerr, I would have to choose Graham Henry – former head coach of the New Zealand All-Blacks, and one of the most successful rugby coaches of all time. His belief that developing people is at the core of his success, and is something that translates to all environments. I’d love to pick his brain about how he created an environment that continually fosters leadership, ownership and accountability and how to “leave your jersey in a better place.”

9. What would you say to a sports fan who’s never watched a U SPORTS game/tournament/competition?

What are you waiting for? Get out to a game and watch some of the top Canadian talent battle and compete! You won’t be disappointed. We recently had family visit from Ireland, and they were blown away by the level of talent and the overall game experience. We created two new fans that day!

10. What do you enjoy doing when you’re away from work?

I usually spend my time doing something active (living in Vancouver, I’m spoiled for choice), catching up with family and friends, or planning my next travel adventure.