Universal Athletics Club coach Jessie Dosanjh and club members practice at Surrey’s Bear Creek Park April 3. (Photos: Trevor Beggs/Now-Leader contributor)

VIDEO: Surrey stacked with track talent from local club

Universal Athletics Club coach discusses passion for teaching some of Surrey’s finest, despite challenging track change

Trevor Beggs, Now-Leader contributor

SURREY — You will be hard-pressed to find anyone who loves coaching more than Jessie Dosanjh.

Dosanjh says he’s rarely taken a day off since he and his brothers Pavitar and Kulwant first formed the Universal Athletics Club (UAC) back in 2000.

“This is my passion,” he told the Now-Leader during an April 3 practice at Bear Creek Park. “I absolutely love doing this. Everyone here from the coaches to the kids are all amazing people. Everyday I still love coming to the track, this is my life.”

What started as a three-person club now trains nearly 140 of the brightest young track stars on the West Coast. With an ever-growing club at his disposal, the UAC is now stacked with many talented athletes.

Jasneet Nijjar, 16, of Queen Elizabeth Secondary won gold at the B.C. Summer Games. What was most impressive about her performance? She beat girls that were five years older than her.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s the 100-metre, the 400-metre or hurdles, she can do it all,” said Dosanjh. “No matter what event she decides to focus on, she has a bright future ahead.”

Fraser Heights Secondary student Katarina Vlahovic recently smashed a 36-year-old provincial record. Vlahovic broke that record at the B.C. High School Championships in 100-metre hurdles.

Dosanjh also has high hopes for sprinter Amar Sandhu.

“Just watch him, he’s a future champion,” he said, “Beautiful sprinter, big powerful guy, he’s gonna do great things.”

The 19-year-old recently ran a 10.81 during 100-metre training last week at UBC. He also finished fourth during the National Junior Championships last year in Ottawa after running a 21.76 in the 200-metre.

“He knows his stuff and he has a lot of experience,” Sandhu said. “His training is simple but effective and to the point. He’s a good guy, he’s honest, he takes his job seriously and he’s passionate about it.”

With his athletes, Dosanjh does his best to exemplify dedication and leadership to the sport.

A few years ago, Dosanjh had a stent put in his chest following a surgery. The full-time volunteer coach of the Universal Athletics track and field club was told to stay home and rest for three to six weeks.

After three days of sitting around at home recovering, Dosanjh was getting antsy. He convinced his wife to take him out to the track later that day.

“Once I was back at the track, I was back there every day again,” said Dosanjh with a smirk. “No more days off.”

homelessphoto

(Cedric Lyumva sprints around the track during 200-metre training at Bear Creek Park. Photo: Trevor Beggs)

UAC moves to crowded Bear Creek

Earlier in the year, Dosanjh was forced to leave the UAC’s training facility at North Surrey Secondary. The club had been there for years, but the worn-down track desperately needs repairs, according to Dosanjh.

“The track needs resurfacing,” he said. “It’s more like concrete. I don’t want to take a risk to stay there.”

They’ve now ended up at Bear Creek Park, which has presented some challenges.

“We have athletes out on the track and we put cones up, but people don’t listen to us,” Dosanjh said. “It’s a grave safety issue. When a sprinter comes out from a block, it’s not easy to stop up. If a kid comes overhead, they can get run over.”

The city also puts up signs that say the track is closed for training, but the rules aren’t enforced.

“We need a bylaw officer there to make sure people stay off the track,” he said.

Still, Dosanjh has remained flexible, and looks at the positives in his club’s new move.

“We host meets here, we host games here, we host championships here, so for that reason, why don’t we train here?”

Training is ramping up at their new stomping grounds despite the concerns. Some UAC athletes will compete in the Emilie Mondor Invitational at SFU this weekend. That will be followed by another meet in Eugene, Oregon later in April.

Dosanjh continues to coach almost every day of the week, citing a strong support system for his coaching longevity.

“This job, you cannot do it by yourself,” he said. “You need to have the right people around you. When you have good coaches and good kids around, good parents around to support them, it makes a team. You cannot produce a great athlete by yourself. It’s not just a coach’s job or a parent’s job. When you become a team, you can reach the next level.”

homelessphoto

(Four athletes, including 19-year-old sprinter Amar Sandhu — taking off second from the right — race during 100-metre training. Photo: Trevor Beggs)

Just Posted

Realtor blanket drive collects 360 bags of clothing

Annual event helps South Surrey and White Rock residents in need

VIDEO: Hundreds of volunteers collect, wrap toys in Surrey at Sikh elementary school

Guru Nanak Free Kitchen, Sikh Academy partner together on annual toy drive

Road safety plan in the works for Surrey

Council to consider hosting ‘Vision Zero’ summit in new year

City of Surrey looks to reduce building permit wait times

Staff targeting a 10-week average processing time

Surrey considers 75% discount on senior rec passes, drop-in admission

Council to vote Monday on proposal to deeply discount rates for residents over 70

MAP: Christmas light displays in Surrey, Langley and beyond

Send us pictures of your National Lampoon-style lit-up homes, nativity scenes or North Pole playlands

Canada’s ambassador meets with second detainee in China

Global Affairs says John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, met with Spavor Sunday

B.C. VIEWS: Andrew Wilkinson on taxes, ICBC and union changes

Opposition leader sees unpredictable year ahead in 2019

5 tips for self-care, mental wellness this holiday season

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions urging British Columbians to prioritize self care through festive season

Rescued B.C. cat with misshapen legs in need of forever home – with carpet

Mirielle was born with misshapen back legs and after a tough life on the streets, is looking for a forever home.

VIDEO: Craft growers will add to recreational market, cannabis producer says

Two B.C. men say their expertise in running small legal medical grow-ops a benefit to recreational market

World Sikh Organization demands Canada prove Sikh extremism is a threat

Sikh community says this is first time such extremism has been mentioned in federal terror-threat assessment

Risk of catching the flu increasing in B.C. this holiday season: BCCDC

Dr. Danuta Skowronski with the BC Centre for Disease Control says influenza will pick up during the holidays

Boeser has 2 points as Canucks ground Flyers 5-1

WATCH: Vancouver has little trouble with slumping Philly side

Most Read