U of R hosts 10th annual President’s Breakfast for Athletics

Jon Ryan on his Superbowl winning team the Seattle Seahawks. Mark Morris

Regina’s best and brightest support the Cougars and Rams

University of Regina’s Cougars and Rams athletes gathered at the Queensbury Convention Centre on Tuesday, Sept. 10 alongside many local Regina business owners, University of Regina administrators, and other supporters of Cougar athletics for the 10th annual President’s Breakfast. The President’s Breakfast is a unique fundraiser in that the president’s office at the U of R matches all donations up to a maximum of $100,000. For this reason, the fundraiser is often the biggest of the year for many of the university’s athletic programs.

For U of R president Dr. Vianne Timmons, the event was all about demonstrating the level of support the school has for varsity athletics.

“I think it is really important to support varsity athletics because I think participating in varsity sports, intermural sports, or club sports builds leadership skills in students, gives them a more robust and full university experience, and I think these students make friends on these teams that are friends for life.”

Timmons is also willing to put her money where her mouth is. She stands beside the sports programs with financial support.

“I match from the president’s office whatever is raised at the president’s breakfast because it is a statement to the community and to all the athletes that the university supports them.”

For Timmons, the community aspect of the breakfast was another big selling point.

“A fundraiser like the president’s breakfast is really important because it brings the community in. It shows the community that we really care about them.”

The community has indeed bought in as the event continues to grow. In the past ten years the President’s Breakfast has raised over 1.2 million dollars for U of R athletics and has had over 1000 guests at its peak. This year’s event had over 700 supporters, a great turnout of community support.

For Timmons, this growth is another part of the goal.

“I’d like to see us keep our numbers up and really make it an event people in the community don’t want to miss.”

The event is also known for its terrific guest speakers and this year was no exception. This year’s keynote was Saskatchewan Roughrider’s kicker and Super Bowl champ, as well as U of R alumnus, Jon Ryan. Ryan brought his usual humour to the event and bookended his interview with a hilarious story about Seahawks teammate Steven Hauschka streaking across the Super Bowl jet on the way home from the game.

Aside from being a terrific speaker and bringing humor to the event, Ryan understands the importance of giving back to the community.

“I feel blessed that I am in the position to give back, U of R gave me so much. If not for the U of R I wouldn’t have had any of the opportunities I had later on, whether it be in the CFL or the NFL. I am very thankful, and to be in the position to give back means a lot and as I’ve always said I’ve taken so much from this school and this community that I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to repay those debts.”

Ryan also had some important advice for U of R students, and not the kind of advice they might expect.

“Work hard in school, make sure you graduate, but also have fun doing it.”

When talking about his own university experience, the comedic Ryan was quick to admit that he wasn’t the best student, but still appreciates the importance of balancing academics.

“I was there for three and a half years. I wasn’t the best student although I managed to pass all my classes, but I had fun with the people who I was there with.”

“It’s the last time in your life you’re not going to be tied down to a desk or in the workplace so it’s important to have some fun.”

When asked about his favourite moments from his career as a Regina Ram, for Ryan, the choice was easy.

“For me it was playing those Friday or Saturday night games and the camaraderie among the guys. That meant a lot to me.”

“It’s funny, it’s 19 years from my first year with the Rams and I remember all those games.”

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