Jesse Vissia of Keremeos playing for the Okanagan College Coyotes goes around Douglas College Royals Josiah Mastandrea during exhibition men’s basketball action at the Penticton campus. Mark Brett/Western News

After life for Coyotes Vissia

A Keremeos man making the grade for Okanagan College basketball squad.

Just when Jesse Vissia thought his playing days were over, the fledgling Okanagan College Coyotes basketball team gave him a new lease on life, both on and off the court.

Vissia, who hails from Keremeos, was invited to try out for the team by Coyotes head coach Dino Gini, who previously coached him in club play with the UBCO Jr. Heat.

Although he hadn’t played any serious ball for a while, Vissia quickly regained his old form and won a starting spot in the line up.

But there was much more to making the team for the Similkameen Secondary grad.

“It’s huge, awesome and it’s motivated me to go to school and get some more education,” said Vissia, 21, who is enrolled in the water technology program at the Kelowna campus.

“I’m loving it, it’s just such a great opportunity that our coaching staff has brought to Okanagan College.

“After high school, I didn’t really know what I was going to do with basketball and didn’t have any solid opportunities to go play post secondary anywhere, so this has been amazing.”

The first-year Coyotes are playing exhibition games this season and have all but been assured of a spot in 2018/19 in the Pacific Western Athletic Association (PacWest) as the eighth men’s team.

Read more:

Coyotes men’s basketball team set to play in Penticton

So far, the squad has compiled an impressive 12-win, six-loss record that has included many games against PacWest teams, some of which are ranked nationally.

“It’s really been better than I thought. We’re 18 games deep, but you just never know going into a season how your going to do,” said Vissia, who has a won a number of awards for his play over the years. “We’re all a close knit on the team which makes being a part of the team that much better. It’s an experience in itself that you can’t get anywhere else.”

And his coach couldn’t be happier with his point guard’s style of play.

“Jesse is just an awesome player. He’s tenacious on defence, he’s got a great shot, and moves extremely well without the ball. He’s a great asset to our team,” said Gini. “I recognized that ability in him when I coached him in club play and now he’s a little older and a little stronger, a high IQ, great teammate, so coachable and so respectful.”

Read more:

While the Coyotes are based out of the Kelowna Campus, they have played exhibition games in Penticton, including two last month, with more scheduled for the future including a four to six team tournament next summer.

“The Penticton campus is just such a great facility — incredible gym and weight room. It really is under utilized so we’re definitely going to play there,” said Gini.

The games were well attended in Penticton and the coach estimated a recent game in Kelowna attracted nearly 1,000 paying customers.

Gini, who has more than a quarter century of coaching hoops under his belt, is the key mover and shaker in bringing basketball to Okanagan College.

When he found out the college did not have funding for a program, he wasn’t going to let that stop him from pursuing his passion, so he went out and formed the non-profit Kelowna College Basketball Society.

Money from sponsors covers everything from jerseys to basketballs, and coaches donate their time.

“So now we have an agreement between the society and Okanagan College to run these programs (men’s and women’s)” said Gini. “When I approached them (college), I said there is a void here in the Okanagan. We’re losing kids, and when they come back, there’s nothing for them and there’s a market here for us to start a program.

“I’m trying to build a legacy and leave it for the young coaches and mentor some of those young coaches, as well, and I know we can make it a success.”

 

Jesse Vissia watches from the bench. Mark Brett/Western News

Okanagan College Coyotes head coach Dino Gini (centre) with his players during a time out. Mark Brett/Western News

Just Posted

Food hamper program in need of more donations

More than 125 hampers are given out to residents of the Lower Similkameen before Christmas.

Alleged affair leads to assault in Princeton

Remorse and a clean record result in suspended sentence

Pepperoni costs Hedley man $500

A Hedley man enjoyed a snack and then refused to pay for it - landing him in court

OSNS #SmileWithOtis making the rounds in Penticton

The 38th annual Shaw Share a Smile Telethon in support of OSNS is Saturday

Penticton treatment centre owner says she plans to raise the bar in care

Michelle Jansen has been an outspoken advocate for the development of rules

What’s happening

Find out what’s happening in your community this weekend

‘I will now live in consistent fear’: Allan Schoenborn granted escorted leaves

The Merritt man was deemed not criminally responsible in the killing of his three children in 2008

Guns and drugs seized in Kamloops RCMP blitz

Kamloops Mounties and the gang unit seize drugs and make arrests in two-day blitz

Hammy the deer dodges conservation officers in Prince Rupert

The famous Prince Rupert hammock deer maintains his purple threads

‘No shirt, no service, no Canada’

Shirtless Tacoma man arrested after Canadian border officials say they found meth in rental vehicle

Nasty note on B.C. windshield sparks online outrage

Vernon’s Bailey McDonald is using a painful experience to start conversation about invisible illness

Interior Health expands meningococcal precautions in South Okanagan

Oliver, Osoyoos and Okanagan Falls included in the expanded precautionary immunization measure

Homeless count returns amid Penticton’s housing crisis

Volunteers are hitting the streets this week to find solid data on Penticton’s homeless population

Federal funding to combat guns, gangs and opioid crisis

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said illicit drugs are often main cause of guns, gangs violence

Most Read