Pronghorn Athletics to enshrine two basketball greats in 1st Choice Savings Centre rafters

Two of the most highly decorated Pronghorn athletes to ever step on the hardcourt will be enshrined in the rafters of the University of Lethbridge’s 1st Choice Savings Centre next season. Shawna (Molcak) Kolaczek and Perry Mirkovich (BASc '80, BEd '82) will have their jersey numbers retired as Pronghorn Athletics reinvigorates a campaign to celebrate its rich history.

“Part of being a Pronghorn athlete is continuing the legacy of those exceptional student-athletes who established the foundation of our programs,” says Pronghorn Athletic Director Neil Langevin. “We have, in various ways, honoured some of these foundational athletes and now we are committing to a consistent program whereby we celebrate their contributions to Pronghorn Athletics in a manner befitting their accomplishments.”

Perry Mirkovich

Lethbridge, Alberta product Perry Mirkovich joined the Pronghorns men’s basketball team in 1975 after graduating from Winston Churchill High School. Mirkovich developed into a tremendously versatile guard/forward who hit shots from long range, made short pull-ups or could fly high above the rim.

“Perry Mirkovich is one of the most skilled and outstanding university basketball players I had the good fortune to coach,” says former Pronghorn head coach Ken Olynyk.

Playing all five years of his collegiate eligibility in the Horns’ blue and gold, Mirkovich was named to the Canada West All-Star team in each of his final three seasons and won back-to-back Canada West scoring titles in 1978-79 and 1979-80.

He also wrapped up his university career by being named to the CIAU All-Canadian team in his final season, and was honoured as the U of L Male Athlete of the Year in 1980.

At the end of his Pronghorn career, Mirkovich held the school’s all-time scoring record with 1,690 points, a record in place for nearly 20 years. He still remains second on the all-time scoring list and is third in career rebounds with 757.

Mirkovich had also set the program’s single-season record for points in a game, scoring 43 on November 9, 1979 versus the Victoria Vikes — a record he shared until 2018.

Following his Pronghorn career, Mirkovich was named to the 1980 Canadian National team, and despite Canada boycotting the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, he is officially recognized as a Canadian Olympian.

During the qualification process for the Olympics, Mirkovich helped Canada to a silver medal at an Olympic qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico.

Later that summer, he was selected in the sixth-round of the NBA draft by the Portland Trailblazers. He was also named the Southern Alberta Male Athlete of the Year.

“Perry was a dominant force on the court, drafted by the NBA in 1980, a European pro and most importantly one of the finest people I have come across in my lifetime,” continues Olynyk. “Following four decades of friendship, I am extremely pleased the University of Lethbridge is bestowing this deserving honour and recognizing Perry’s accomplishments by retiring his uniform.”

Shawna (Molcak) Kolaczek

Another southern Alberta product, Shawna (Molcak) Kolaczek starred for the Pronghorns from 1986 to 1991 and her accomplishments in blue and gold are remarkable.

“It is truly awesome that Shawna has been chosen as the first female student athlete at the University of Lethbridge to have her jersey retired,” says former Pronghorns women’s basketball head coach Trix Baker. “She was one of the most successful athletes to come out of the University of, and it was a great pleasure for me to have coached her at the university, provincial and national program level.”

The Canada West Player of the Year for the 1988-89 season, Kolaczek was also a four-time Canada West All-Star, three-time CIAU All-Canadian and the U of L Female Athlete of the Year four years running (1987-91).

Now 30 years after she last wore the Horns’ blue and gold, she is still the program’s all-time leader in points (1,551) and assists (368). Her career point total is still among the top 15 in Canada West history.

Kolaczek was the Canada West scoring leader for the 1988-89 season and was named to the 1988 CIAU All-Tournament team as the program made its second-ever appearance ever at the national tournament.

“An outstanding scorer and playmaker, Shawna was not only a prolific scorer, she made all her teammates better as she distributed the ball through her great court sense and basketball IQ,” adds Baker.

On the international stage, Kolaczek represented Canada continuously from 1990 to 2000, highlighted by being a member of the 1996 Canadian Olympic team at the Atlanta Olympics.

She won a bronze medal at the 1990 World Student Games and helped Canada to gold at the 1995 America’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

Kolaczek went on to play elite European professional basketball, including seven years in Germany and one in Greece, and was named a First Division All-Star on three separate occasions.

“She was a physically gifted athlete who showed great durability and strength throughout her career, seldom missing practices or competitions for any reason,” continues Baker.  “Always there for her teammates, she could be relied on to give it her very best each time she stepped on the court. A great role model for future basketball players!”

Pronghorn Athletics looks forward to hosting a live event to honour both Perry and Shawna. Stay tuned to for an announcement regarding a celebration event next athletic season.