By: Hannah Kazemi, Staff Writer
We often hear about SFU athletes who have stepped up or had a particularly impressive season, but what happens to those athletes when they graduate and leave SFU? In this Alumni Spotlight series, The Peak will be sitting down with four SFU football alumni to find out how and why they continue to support SFU’s young student athletes 30–35 years after their time with the program.
The SFU Football Alumni Society is made up of four main executives as well as members-at-large. It relies on supplementary alumni and sponsors to provide services like financial aid, mentorship, and ongoing support to current SFU football players. This week The Peak spoke with Jon Choboter, ongoing treasurer and current member-at-large of the society. Choboter played on the SFU football team from 1989–1992 as a wide-receiver and kick-returner. In 1992, he set the SFU National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics record for most yards per catch and third-most return yards.
When asked about his favourite memory from SFU, Choboter didn’t bring up any accolades. Instead, he settled for the multi-sport annual rivalry game between SFU and UBC for the coveted Shrum Bowl. While bragging rights were on the line, Choboter said it was the massive fan turnout that really got players excited. More than the memories he made on the way, Choboter also reflected on how his time as a student athlete has been transferable in his everyday life: “As a young person, it’s good to kind of go through that [ . . . ] you can always take those skills afterwards and use them for the rest of your life.” Some of Choboter’s teammates have done just that. “A lot of them are managing large companies and so on,” he revealed, “and a lot of those skills come from their early days at SFU football.”
The SFU Football Alumni Society has been going strong for decades with past players like Choboter returning to support current players both in coaching positions and as part of the executive team. “I learned a lot from the program, and I wanted to give back and be a difference for other young people going through it, because it [made] a big difference in my life in terms of helping me go through some different maturing aspects,” said Choboter. Some of those positive aspects include “discipline, being on time, balancing a schedule, and developing friendships and relationships with other people. ”
One of the ways the SFU Football Alumni Society supports current players is by hosting alumni events, such as the annual Rick Klassen Memorial Golf Classic to fund scholarships for players. This event is what kick-started Choboter’s volunteer involvement with the Society back in 2006. Another big event is the Legacy Dinner, held by the Society every November for graduating athletes. Choboter refers to the night as a “welcome to the club” event. During the dinner, the graduating athletes meet the alumni for a handshake line. Besides showing a sign of respect, there’s a greater meaning behind the gesture. It’s meant to let players know their time at SFU doesn’t have to stop with their playing career. The Society makes sure to post jobs and other contacts on their website. While it was born out of the desire to take care of current players, the SFU Football Alumni Society doesn’t forget about its graduates.