photo by Kevin Jacklin

Three local players highlight head coach Brad Hudson’s group of five incoming student athletes brought in to the fold of the UBC Okanagan Heat men’s volleyball program.

Vernon Christian’s Ben Molitwenik, listed as No. 8 in the annual poll of B.C.’s top grade 12 players, will join OKM’s Kevin Jacklin as two Okanagan-trained athletes straight out of high school to join Hudson’s squad for 2020-21. In addition to those two outstanding locals, Hudson has added a hometown collegiate transfer, Jackson Obst, from UFV.

Keatan Mann is another transfer, from Douglas College, and a setter from Burnaby Secondary, Cade Hudson, round out this year’s incoming class.

Mann and Molitwenik are both 6’4″ outside hitters, Jacklin and Obst both play in the middle. Hudson stands an even six feet, and will lineup as a setter for UBCO.

Heat coach Brad Hudson on his incoming class:

“I really like the volleyball IQ and the high character of this class. They will make a positive impact on our team and fit in nicely to our amazing team culture. They are hardworking, passionate about the sport, dedicated students and winners. We are excited to share in their collegiate experience and can’t wait to get them on campus.”

Cade Hudson (S)

A 6’0″ setter from Burnaby, B.C., Cade Hudson played club volleyball with some of the best club programs in the country. Most recently he was with the Fraser Valley Volleyball Club, prior to that Hudson competed with the Apex Volleyball Club for four seasons. He also spent a year with the Force Volleyball Club. A winner in the club leagues, the accomplished setter was able to capture two separate division II provincial gold medals during his club career.

Named the Fraser River North senior boys MVP with his Burnaby North Secondary Vikings squad this past year, Hudson, a 2020 graduate of Burnaby North will enrol in the human kinetics program at UBCO.

A huge volleyball fan, he cites two volleyball players as his favourite athletes, Ben Toniutti and Saeed Maroof, and he has also watched the Canadian men’s national team train in Gatineau, Que. A huge student of volleyball, the coach raised Hudson will be another set of young hands to distribute the ball to the Heat’s youthful attack.

Hudson on his commitment:

“I chose UBCO because I felt that the academics and the athletics at UBCO would help with what I wanted to accomplish later in life. I’m excited to come to UBC Okanagan for the Human Kinetics program, and for the chance to play against some of the best players in Canada.”

Heat coach Brad Hudson on Cade Hudson:

“Cade possesses an exceptional release and moves the ball around the court accurately. He can also create consistent pressure as a server. Cade’s a really talented young man and sees the game very well.”

Kevin Jacklin (M)

Raised locally, Kevin Jacklin joins the Heat from Kelowna, B.C., where he played four years at OKM Secondary School. The 6’6″ middle blocker earned several accolades in his time at OKM, along with starring for the Kelowna Volleyball Club (KVC) including the KVC 18U KaPow! Team. He plans to major in Biology while earning his Bachelor of Science at UBCO. Kevin has also been a member of the Lake Country Volleyball Club (LCVC), and TEAM B.C.

Jacklin on his commitment:

“I am excited to play for the Heat because it means that while I am playing I am able to get a great education while also staying close to home.”

Heat coach Brad Hudson on Kevin Jacklin:

“Kevin brings a solid offensive game and can bring pressure from the baseline with his jumpserve. Both attributes are important to our brand.”

Keatan Mann (OH)

After playing two years in the PACWEST, 6’4″ right side Keatan Mann will jump to the rigours of Canada West men’s volleyball competition after transferring to the UBCO Heat for the 2020-21 season.  Mann played two seasons with Douglas College, the last one back in 2018-19. The left-handed attacker played in 45 sets with the Royals in those two seasons putting down a total of 72 kills.

Prior to joining Douglas, Mann was a standout at Delta Secondary where he played not only volleyball but soccer and ball hockey as well with the Pacers.

The product of Ladner, B.C. was an honour roll student all through high school, and landed on the Principal’s list twice at Delta Secondary. He will enter the management program at UBCO, with a goal of getting into sports management following his undergrad.

Twice Mann was a club provincial champion with his Seaside Club, an outfit he trained with from 2014-18.

Mann on his commitment:

“I chose UBCO because it offers a reputable business management program that will be a great precursor to my future occupations. The University also allows me to continue my athletic career with a young and exciting team, while pursuing my education.  I am excited to play for the Heat because it is a well-known program, consisting of a great group of guys, and headed by knowledgeable coaches. Playing at UBCO will also allow me to obtain a reputable UBC education at the same time.”

Heat coach Brad Hudson on Keatan Mann:

“Keatan is a well-rounded wing player capable of contributing on either pin. He’s also an exceptional teammate and competitor. He’s one of those teammates who help drive a program on and off the court.”

Ben Molitwenik (OH)

A volleyball protégé from Vernon, B.C., Ben Molitwenik has played on his school’s senior volleyball team every year, from grade eight through 12. Molitwenik’s impact can’t be understated with his Vernon Christian School’s athletics program and his name will go down in school history. The 6’4″ outside hitter led his Royals teams to back-to-back B.C. High School Senior Boys A Volleyball championship, and he was named the tournament’s most outstanding player both years. The championship in 2018 was the first provincial title in any sport, ever, for the Vernon school. He also suited up for the Royal’s basketball team in grades 11 and 12 as well.

Not only did he star as an athlete at VCS, Molitwenik also excelled academically landing himself on the honour roll in both his grade 11 and 12 years.  Moving forward at UBCO, the strong student will enrol in the human kinetics program with sports therapy his plan for his future.

On the volleyball club circuit, Molitwenik played from grades eight through 12 with the SKY Volleyball Club.

Molitwenik on his commitment:

“I chose UBCO because of the high level of academics offered while still being able to stay close to home. I also chose UBCO because of the great volleyball program and the community on campus. I’m excited to play for a team that not only strives for athletic excellence, but also values good character and personal development.”

Heat coach Brad Hudson on Ben Molitwenik:

“Ben has all the attributes to be a very good outside hitter in our league. His serve reception is Canada West ready and he has a great arm. Plus, he’s been a leader throughout his high-school and club experiences.”

Jackson Obst (M)

Returning home after two years at the University of Fraser Valley, Jackson Obst, the former Kelowna Owls star, will transfer to the Heat from the Cascades program. A 6’5″ middle, Obst played in over 40 matches for the Abbotsford team in the PACWEST conference of the CCAA. In those two seasons he compiled over 70 total blocks, his 46 blocks in his sophomore campaign was fourth-best in the conference. Obst also posted over 100 total points in each of his two years there.

At KSS, Obst was the male athlete of the year for three straight years for the Owls. Not only did he star for the volleyball team but also played for the Owls boys basketball team, and won a provincial silver medal in both sports.

An honour roll student while at KSS, Obst will transfer from the business and administration program at UFV into the management program at UBCO.

Obst played his club volleyball with the Kelowna Volleyball Club (KVC) from 2014-18.

Obst on his commitment:

“Growing up in Kelowna I would always come to watch the Heat play and it is truly an honour to be a part of this team now and act as a role model for young volleyball players.”

Heat coach Brad Hudson on Jackson Obst:

“Jackson is an athletic middle who brings high energy and enthusiasm. Jackson’s college experiences will help bring a maturity to his game and our gym.”

The Heat teams are practicing in earnest this fall with all eyes on the upcoming date of October 8. After cancelling first term team competitions in June, a decision by Canada West on the resumption of sport, specifically two-term sports, will be made by that early October date.