February 13, 2023
Player, Coach, Mentor, and Dedicated Fan. Over the past six decades Dale Ohman has worn many hats with the UBC men’s volleyball team. In an era where UBC is forever changing with new buildings and developments, War Memorial Gym and the front row seat where Dale likes to sit every volleyball home game, has remained a constant.
Since stepping away from his role as UBC men’s volleyball head coach in 2003, Dale has remained involved with the program as a huge supporter, even establishing his own endowment. Now, Dale is making a game-changing donation for men’s volleyball, with a one-million-dollar estate gift. It is UBC Athletics’ largest legacy gift ever received to a program endowment. Dale surprised the volleyball community with the monumental announcement during the final weekend of home games at War Memorial Gym.
“UBC men’s volleyball will be forever changed by Dale Ohman, both for his coaching legacy and for his incredibly generous support of the program. When alumni and supporters such as Dale include UBC Athletics as part of their estate plan, they help ensure a bright future for our Thunderbird teams.” Kavie Toor, Managing Director, UBC Athletics and Recreation.
For Dale, UBC has always been his second home and the volleyball team his “family”.
“This has been my whole life, really. My life changed the day in 1964 when I was standing at the railing overlooking War Memorial Gym for the first time,” explains Dale. “Since then, it has been quite the journey. You know, you stumble across something almost accidentally and you go with it and it envelops you and it becomes a huge part of your life.”
As a player for the Thunderbirds, Dale was part of the historic 1966-67 UBC Hall of Fame volleyball team that won the first ever CIAU Volleyball National Championship. He later stepped into the head coaching job for the men’s team in 1971, and coached for two seasons. Then resumed as head coach in 1980 and led the Thunderbirds for 25 years. Highlights from those years included winning a national championship in front of a home crowd at War Memorial Gym in 1983, and being named as a two-time U SPORTS Coach of the Year.
“Dale let us be individuals, while still creating a strong team. He was instrumental in developing us to be good volleyball players but also to be well rounded people and future leaders, even if we didn’t know it then.” Rob Brett, 1982-83 championship team member.
Dale was also responsible for establishing an exchange program between the Thunderbirds with SKK Volleyball in Korea. A relationship that has resulted in invaluable international experience for UBC, and continues to this day.
In the decades that have followed his retirement from head coaching, Dale has never stopped his involvement with the sport of volleyball. As the number one fan of the Thunderbirds, he makes the commute from his home in Chilliwack to cheer on both the men’s and women’s volleyball teams whenever they take to the court.
In fact, one of Dale’s favourite Thunderbird memories comes from after his coaching days, when he was a fan in the stands as the UBC men’s volleyball team knocked off two-time defending champs Trinity Western to win the 2018 U Sports Championship.
“I travelled out to McMaster to be there at Nationals. Getting to watch UBC play for match point and then win it all was an incredible thrill, this time as a fan and alumni supporter. Be able to share that excitement with the parents in the stands was amazing.”
Dale has also served as a mentor to a number of top-level coaches and has been instrumental in developing boy’s and men’s volleyball in BC.
“The name Dale Ohman is synonymous with UBC Men’s Volleyball. As the longest serving coach, he is also the program’s most passionate and dedicated supporter,” says Kerry MacDonald, former UBC Volleyball Head Coach. “Throughout my years as head coach, Dale offered valuable insights, constructive criticism when needed, and unwavering support to the staff and athletes. While the program holds great significance for Dale, his unwavering support means even more to the program.”
Dale has influenced hundreds of volleyball players and coaches over his long history with UBC volleyball. With the donation of his planned gift Dale is giving UBC men’s volleyball players the best opportunity to succeed both on and off the court for years to come. He hopes his donation will inspire others to consider UBC student athletes in their estate planning to ensure all Thunderbird programs can reach new heights.
Dale Ohman with the 2022-23 UBC Thunderbirds. Photo by Rich Lam