Four University of Saskatchewan Huskies have joined the KidSport Saskatchewan ambassador team.

Football receiver Yol Piok, men’s hockey captain Tanner Lishchynsky, basketball guard Katriana Philipenko and wrestler George Ren have committed to the children’s charity as ambassadors for the program. As ambassadors, the Huskie Athletics athletes will help ensure no kid is left on the sidelines through promotion and event support.

“Playing sports has given me so many opportunities and is the reason I’m where I am today,” said Lishchynsky. “Sport has given me the chance to develop important life skills like a strong work ethic, being a team player and becoming a leader in society. I am beyond grateful for the friendships, relationships and memories I have received by playing sports and believe it is why every child should have the opportunity to play sports. Sport helps kids grow as individuals and build relationships, all the while having fun with friends.”

An all-academic Lishchynsky, a fourth-year defenceman, played hockey football, soccer, baseball and lacrosse as a kid. He has played for the Prince George Cougars and Kootenay Ice in the Western Hockey League, as well as the Yorkton Terriers and Flin Flon Bombers in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League in his career. He won the RBC Cup with the Terriers in 2014.

Piok, a fourth-year receiver from Regina, and Ren, a second-year wrestler from Saskatoon, both know the value of the impact KidSport’s funding can have on youth.

Piok’s love of sport began on the track & field in Grade 4 after immigrating to Canada from Sudan with his family of nine. Without the help of a teacher explaining how KidSport could help him compete in sport, Piok said he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to grow as a person, athlete and student through sport.

“The relationships gained through sports are priceless,” said Piok, a fourth-year receiver from Regina. “You meet so many likeminded individuals that help foster the growth of those involved. The practices and games teach discipline and help gain self-confidence through the support of teammates. KidSport offers more than an opportunity to get involved in organized sports but offers youth an opportunity to gain lifelong community relationships while creating leaders of tomorrow.”

Ren is a second-year wrestler from Saskatoon. As a high school wrestler with Centennial Collegiate, he won two provincial medals including gold in 2017-18 and bronze in 2016-17.

“As a kid, KidSport helped me participate in sports, which developed me into the person I am today,” said Ren. “Being a Huskie athlete, I know the impact sport can have on a kid and not all kids are able to have access to the life defining activity of sport.”

Philipenko, a third-year guard from Saskatoon, was a multi-sport athlete playing basketball, fastball, volleyball and beach volleyball growing up. She has won two Canada West Championship titles with the Huskies, the Saskatoon city basketball championship four times and a high school provincial championship twice.

“Being able to play sports allows individuals to live active lifestyles, but also build confidence, leadership, work ethic and the ability to overcome obstacles,” said Philipenko. “I am happy to help inspire kids through sports to become the best that they can be.”

In 2018, KidSport Saskatchewan helped 12,703 kids participate in 49 sports. Huskie Athletics will partner with KidSport to host game nights in the 2019-20 athletic season; on November 16th at a men’s hockey game and on January 25th at a women’s basketball game.

“KidSport Saskatchewan is very happy to welcome four University ambassadors including two that have used our program in the past,” said Jerry Shoemaker, volunteer chair of the KidSport Saskatchewan committee. “All four are role models to show where sport can lead you and the opportunities that can be gained by participating in sport. We are glad to work with Huskie Athletics once again.”

The four join Saskatchewan Roughrider Naaman Roosevelt, Kirk Muyres of the Muyres Curling Rink and MLS Player Brett Levis as KidSport Saskatchewan ambassadors. National ambassadors for the charity include Olympic gold medalist Jon Montgomery and former-NHL player Jerome Iginla.

About KidSport Saskatchewan: KidSport is a children’s charity designed to assist children ages 5 to 18 of families facing financial obstacles to participate in community sport programs. It believes that no kid should be left on the sidelines and that all should be given the opportunity to experience the benefits of organized sport. Since 1995, KidSport has raised more than $12 million to help more than 140,000 kids participate.