By Kaytlyn Poberznick

Men’s basketball coach Slav Kornik looks to lead his men out of the uncertainty of the pandemic into their certain endeavor for an ACAC championship.

NAIT athletics has faced a whirlwind of changes and moving targets for return to play. Kornik has an Ooks-eye view of what he wants this season to be about.

“I’m focused on our guys just getting better in practices, understanding my philosophies and what I’m trying to do,” said Kornik.

“[I’m] definitely liking the group of guys we have,” said Kornik. “They’re enthusiastic, and they’ve been working hard in practice. The environment has been really positive so far.”

Having his first year of Coaching at NAIT under his belt, Kornik is using the experiences he gained to help guide him through the tumult of the pending season.

“Obviously going into your first year, there can be a lot of uncertainty,” said Kornik.
“But having positive and negative experiences, learning from those and coming into my second year having some of that behind me is probably for the best.”

Seeing lots of change in his roster of players this year means starting the season off with a blank slate. Kornik wants to spend this time to bring new life to the team and make sure his players understand his way of coaching.

“Even though we had a lot of turnover, a lot of the guys already knew each other and they got to know [one another more] in the off season,” remarked Kornik.

With the missing piece of their top scorer from last year, prolific scorer Sean-Michael Clancey, the new recruits and veteran players will have to step up this year to fill the void.

“You never know what’s going to happen, once you start playing games, things don’t turn out exactly as you’d hoped and planned all the time,” said Kornik. “But on paper and what I’m seeing in practice right now I think we have a pretty balanced squad.”

Korniks sights are still looking forward to an ACAC Championship. Although games aren’t set to begin until January, Coach Kornik is still optimistic that this season will finish in victory, in whatever shape it takes.

“Honestly for me, if we’re not coming into a season and putting our sights into a conference title then I think somethings wrong and for me I hope that never changes,” mentioned Kornik.

“I had the same mentality last year. We’re trying to win an ACAC Championship,” said Kornik.

As a Coach there’s added pressure to be the rock of the team, having to focus on more than your own performance. From his first year of playing for NAIT’s men’s basketball team to his first year of coaching, the mentality and perception of keeping the team strong has changed.

“As a player you can largely focus on yourself. You’re focused on what you need to do to help your team to be the best it can be and how you can be the best player you can be,” said Kornik.

“Whereas a head coach, you’re not really thinking about yourself at all. Your responsibility is to think about the team and think about everybody else,” said Kornik.

“I’m trying to make sure their culture on the team and environment surrounding the team is positive.”