Top honour for golfing guru

For a second year in a row, University of the Fraser Valley's Chris Bertram has been recognized as coach of the year at his level.

The University of the Fraser Valley golf program made an impressive haul at the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association (CCAA) awards banquet on Tuesday evening in Quebec City.

On the eve of the PING CCAA golf national championships – which both the Cascades men’s and women’s squads will be participating in – UFV’s Jen Woods, Connor O’Dell and Chris Bertram were honoured by the national body.

Woods and O’Dell were named All-Canadians, while Bertram won the CCAA coach of the year award.

Woods, a third-year golfer from Kelowna, was celebrated for a 2014 season which saw her win the PacWest conference’s individual title by 10 strokes, highlighted by a victory at the season-ending UBC Okanagan tournament. She helped the Cascades women successfully defend their overall PacWest title, finishing a collective 26 strokes ahead of UBC-O.

“She’s the inspirational leader,” Bertram said of Woods. “In terms of her ability to get it done on the course, she’s it for us. She’s the biggest piece of the puzzle.”

O’Dell, a third-year athlete from Maple Ridge, finished second in the PacWest’s individual men’s standings and won the Kwantlen tournament. He also led the Cascades men to their third straight conference title – they ended up 13 strokes ahead of the Camosun Chargers.

“Connor has not only been UFV’s highest-ranked golfer, he’s also been a terrific veteran leader,” Bertram said.

Bertram’s coach of the year nod marks the second straight year he’s won the CCAA award, and adds to a trophy haul which also includes four of the past five PacWest coach of the year prizes.

The 2014 season was a busy one for Bertram – he was a member of the coaching staff for Team Canada’s women’s team at the World University Golf Championships in Switzerland, and is serving as interim athletic director at UFV. The 2015 season promises to be just as eventful, as the Cascades host the CCAA national championships.

“Chris has great vision, dedication and an unwavering love of varsity golf,” said CCAA golf convenor Albert Roche. “He is a class act, illustrating that nice guys can finish first.

“Chris has been the driving force behind last year’s national successes as a coach at UFV and continues in his leadership role, stepping forward to secure the bid to host golf nationals in 2015.”

This week, Bertram’s teams look to repeat as CCAA champions after dominating the event in 2013. UFV is ranked No. 1 on both the men’s and women’s sides going in.

The tournament, hosted by Champlain College St. Lawrence for the second straight year, opens on Wednesday at the Club de Golf Lorette and continues through Friday. It’s a different course than last year’s event, which was contested at Royal Quebec Golf Club, but Bertram believes it’s well-suited to his team’s strengths.

“I think it’ll feel comfortable,” he said. “It’s not dissimilar to where we play in Chilliwack.

“For us, it’s going back to a place (Quebec City) where we have a lot of good memories.”

See ufvcascades.ca for more.