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Award Hits Close to Home For Student Athlete

The Matt Pearce Award is more than just a scholarship for University of Northern British Columbia women’s basketball player Emily Holmes. It’s an inspiration. “When I received the award I was literally moved to tears,” she says. “This award inspires me to build greater relationships with others and to be a community role model as Matt was.”

May 24, 2017
Emily Holmes
UNBC Timberwolves woman's basketball player Emily Holmes was the first female recipient of the Matt Pearce Award

The Matt Pearce Award is more than just a scholarship for University of Northern British Columbia women’s basketball player Emily Holmes. It’s an inspiration.

“It is so special to be one of the first to receive this award because I knew Matt personally, my family knew him, and I saw what an outstanding citizen he was,” Holmes says. “This award was created due to Matt’s success in athletics. It motivates me as an athlete to push and challenge myself as he did, and to always give it your best performance.”

The new award was established through the generosity of donors to UNBC to honour the legacy of local athlete, teacher, coach, referee and community leader Matt Pearce who died suddenly in January 2016 at the age 48.

Donors who purchase tickets to the annual Timberwolves Legacy Breakfast fund the award.

A graduate of Duchess Park in Prince George, Holmes is set to begin her third season with the Timberwolves. She said the Matt Pearce Award and other donor-supported scholarships are critical for student-athletes at UNBC.

“Donor support is so important and extremely appreciated,” she says. “Not only does donor support play a huge role helping student-athletes succeed in the classroom, but it also builds a connection between athletes and the community.”

Since its inception 2016, two $1,000 Matt Pearce Award scholarships have been awarded each year - one to a women’s basketball player and one to a men’s player.

Inducted into the Prince George Sports Hall of Fame in 1999, Pearce played professional football with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for seven seasons and won a Grey Cup with the team in 1990. He was a longtime coach in a number of sports in Prince George, including as an assistant coach with the Duchess Park Condors senior boys’ basketball team. He was also involved in the Junior Timberwolves program and worked as an official during UNBC men’s basketball alumni games.

Holmes, the first female student-athlete to win the award, knew Pearce from the local sports scene and as a close family friend. She grew up playing alongside or against Pearce’s daughter and current UNBC student Tenley and her parents knew Pearce for more than two decades.

“When I received the award I was literally moved to tears,” she says. “This award inspires me to build greater relationships with others and to be a community role model as Matt was.”

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