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Agassiz-born coach turned nurse bids Capilano U fond farewell

Moving to the States, Jenn Bodnar leaves impactful legacy on and off the CapU court
Capilano University Blues assistant coach Jenn Bodnar of Agassiz (at left with Blues guard Simrat Dosanjh and at right in her nurse scrubs) has switched focus from the sidelines to the front lines of public health. She will soon be moving to California, continuing nursing and living with her boyfriend. (Contributed Photo/Capilano University)

A Capliano University legend with local ties will be sorely missed as she heads to her next great adventure.

Agassiz-born basketball great Jenn Bodnar will now head stateside to combat coronavirus from California, moving shortly before Christmas to be with her boyfriend. Earlier this year, Bodnar stepped away from her assistant basketball coaching position at CapU, devoting full-time work to fighting COVID-19 on the front lines as a registered nurse.

While it sustains her medical career, Bodnar’s move away from Canada “ends a special association between Bodnar and Blues basketball that began almost exactly 10 years ago,” according to a statement from Cap U released Thursday, Dec. 10.

“It’s just tough,” Bodnar said in a statement. “They’ve become my family, really. Just the memories and the friendships I’ve made. All the people I’ve worked with, the athletic department, everyone has been so supportive, I can really say they’re family. They’ve been there through everything. They’ve supported me so I’m proud to be able to call myself a Blues alum now.”

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It was by a chance encounter she departs Canada and CapU for good, but it was a chance encounter that started her journey with the Blues in the first place, when she met then-head coach Paul Chiarenza. She met the coach during a basketball game in Agassiz, where she was watching her younger sister Leanne play in a tournament game against Chiarenza’s Southridge high school team.

The coach recognized Bodnar, helping her get enrolled at CapU and onto the team as a point guard in late 2010. Quickly becoming a team leader, she won numerous accolades during her time playing with the Blues, including CCAA Academic All-Canadian, Blues Female Athlete of the Year and Women’s Basketball Team MVP.

“I think my favourite playing memory would probably be winning a championship; that’s what you work towards the whole time,” says Bodnar. “And then getting to go to nationals was probably the highlight just because not very many teams get to go. Our nationals that year were in Niagara Falls… it was really neat to see that part of Canada.”

Bodnar ultimately took on an assistant coaching position following a decorated career as a Blues basketball powerhouse. She worked through the nursing program at British Columbia Institute of Technology while remaining on CapU’s coaching staff.

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The Blues’ amazing 2020 season – Bodnar’s sixth as assistant coach – was cut short, costing them the chance for a 202 CCAA national title and a chance for Bodnar to give a proper goodbye to her team.

Through the uncertainty 2020 brings and the continued threat of the pandemic, Bodnar’s players have looked after her.

“All the support all my players have shown me, sending messages saying ‘We’re here for you,’ ‘Do you need groceries?’,” Bodnar said in an earlier statement. “They’re checking in on me.”

Head coach Chris Weimer said moving ahead without Bodnar would be a tough adjustment.

“She’s going to be really hard to replace,” Weimer said in a statement. ““It’s not so much the X’s and O’s stuff. It’s those other things like the rapport she has with the players, players feeling comfortable talking to her. For something that almost wasn’t, it ended up being 10 years of her life. I think everyone appreciates what she’s done, that she stuck around and she’s been committed.”

Though she’s sad to leave, Bodnar wants to give back to the program that’s given so much to her and keep in touch with her CapU family.

“I’m lucky to be able to be part of such a great program,” she said. “It’s tough to put into words what it means to be a Blue.”