When the UNBC Timberwolves locked up Jon Cooper as the keynote speaker for their seventh annual Timberwolves Legacy Breakfast they uncovered a Prince George treasure.
Cooper, the Prince George born-and-bred head coach of the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning is taking time out of his busy schedule on a Lightning game day to become the focus of the virtual event bright and early Wednesday morning, while his team prepares to host the Dallas Stars in Tampa later that day.
Cooper, who played minor hockey and lacrosse in Prince George, went on to a field hockey scholarship at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., and he knows what the four varsity Timberwolves teams mean to the community, playing soccer and basketball at the highest amateur level in the country as university athletes in the U Sports Canada West Conference. All proceeds from the Legacy Breakfast will be used to fund scholarships and bursaries for the UNBC student-athletes.
“We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Jon Cooper for what should be an incredible morning,” said Loralyn Murdoch, UNBC’s director of athletics & recreation. “Jon has an incredible story. He is truly proud of his Prince George roots, and I know Prince George is so proud of him. I can’t wait for everyone to hear his story.”
Tickets for the virtual breakfast are $60 each and as of Saturday about 350 had been sold. Bundle rates are also available and several city businesses have purchased $800 Green and Gold sponsorships for charitable/non-profit groups to take part in Cooper’s virtual presentation.
An online auction features an RV rental, hotel packages, a helicopter tour, airline tickets, holiday resort stays, ski and golf packages and Lightning jerseys autographed by players Nikita Kucherov, Steve Stamkos and Brayden Point, are among the items available. The auction opens live for bids starting Wednesday morning and will be open for 10 days.
Murdoch says because there is no physical breakfast event there’s an unlimited number of tickets available. Once ticket sales close Tuesday morning, each registered guest will receive a login address later that day which will give them access to the hour-long event, which starts at 7:30 a.m. Cooper will be on for half an hour.
Previous speakers at the Legacy Breakfast include hockey players Theoren Fleury and Hayley Wickenheiser, curler Jennifer Jones, and football player Michael “Pinball” Clemons. Having a Legacy Breakfast guest speaker like Cooper, an active NHL coach at the height of his career with playoffs for the Lightning just around the corner, is a first for UNBC.
“The majority of the people have been in retirement and they’re on the speakers’ series and Jon is totally active coaching still and not doing speaking as his profession, but he’s fantastic,” said Murdoch. “For sure, he’s the highest-profile person we’ve had. He’s very personable and people are going to resonate with him, especially when he talks about Prince George. It’s going to be great.”
Started in 2015, the Legacy Breakfast typically raises between $50,000 and $80,000 for T-wolves athletes.
For more information go to the UNBC website at www.unbc.ca/timberwolves.