By Kaytlyn Poberznick
The final year of eligibility holds a lot of weight for senior athletes attempting to achieve their remaining personal goals while also leading the team to a championship. For Keilan Dobish, last year should have been the end, but a canceled season gave him another shot.
The fifth-year men’s Ooks basketball player found himself in a position to embrace his third coach in three years. The overall learning curve of having to adjust to different coaching methods has not phased Dobish in the least.
“I find that it’s actually helped me,” said the St. Albert native.
“The biggest thing that’s benefited me is just the ability to adapt […] and not get comfortable with anything.”
Growing as a player means accepting different feedback and perspectives to help develop new skills as an athlete. Working with two respected coaches in his previous two years, Dobish finds himself taking away some key lessons. Mike Connolly, the men’s basketball coach Dobish had for his first three years, and Slav Kornik, the coach who took over during his fourth year, each brought unique qualities to the table.
“The biggest thing that I learned from Mike, that I struggled with when I was in high school, was mental toughness throughout the season,” said Dobish.
“I always got really caught up in the moment. I always got really pissed off when we lost in high school and [Mike taught me] that it was okay to lose and not be successful at everything because you learn a lot more when you lose than when you win.”
In 2019, Slav Kornik worked with Dobish to develop his leadership skills as he captained the team.
“[With] Slav, [the thing I took away was] how to be a positive leader,” said Dobish.
“Again in high school, I struggled with being a negative leader to people, and I knew that, but that was the only thing I had known because I never had anyone teach me how to be a positive leader.”
“All I knew was how to get up in guys’ faces when stuff was not going right. [With Slav, I learned] how to be a lot more calm, composed, and really just digest and comprehend the situation that’s happening.”
With Jordan Baker now at the helm of the Ooks men’s basketball program, adding to the long list of coaches Dobish has played under, the veteran is entering the season with an open mind for gaining as much knowledge from the current Canadian Elite Basketball League star as possible.
“I kind of said to myself when I was a rookie that Mike was the only guy I wanted to play for and obviously that was just me being a young dumb kid and having tunnel vision to the situation, but as the years have gone on, I’ve come to appreciate the different perspectives and amounts of knowledge [people have to offer],” said Dobish.
“I think the fact he’s still playing [means he’ll] understand what players go through in today’s day and age as far as the current game goes.”
“I [anticipate that] we’re going to learn a lot about how to comprehend competing at a high level, but I think another thing we’re going to take from him is his wealth of knowledge he has for the game.”
After a year of waiting to play, and the uncertainty that led up to the canceled 2020-21 season, Dobish is ready to be released back onto the basketball court and get the ball rolling on a new season.
“I think there is just going to be a mentality of wanting to go out and compete as our best selves every day,” said Dobish.
With a new coach, a new season, and a winning mindset, Dobish has lots to look forward to in the coming year as he heads into his final stretch with the NAIT Ooks.