ABJ Scots trio look to make noise with Thunder 

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Heading off to a new school and joining a new team can be daunting tasks for any recent grad. 

It will be a heck of a lot easier for a trio of current Grade 12 students at Archbishop Jordan Catholic High School, however. 

Three stars of the ABJ Scots basketball program — Richard Healy, Justin Krewenchuk and Tyler Yanick — have all signed on with Edmonton’s Concordia University and are all hoping to make noise together for the Thunder men’s b-ball team. 

All three came to the sport at different points in their lives, but the unifying factor is how much they came to love bouncing balls and shooting baskets on the court. 

“I first started playing basketball when I was around five years old,” Yanick said. “My parents introduced me to the game because I was extremely tall for my age. I think I started to fall in love with the game because it acted as an escape from everything going on around me. No matter what was going on in my life at the time I could always look forward to competing in my next game or grinding hard to get better at my next practice.” 

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“What got me into the sport first was the competitive drive it took to be successful,” Healy added. “My coaches in Grade 10, Kyle Nanan, and Frank Eberly, really inspired me and opened my eyes to the potential that I have. The creativity that goes into the sport is unmatched. The amount of different moves or tricks you can do with the ball is amazing.” 

Tyler Yanick making it official with Concordia. Photo Supplied
Tyler Yanick making it official with Concordia. Photo Supplied

Krewenchuk admits that he grew to love basketball at least in part because of video games. 

“I grew up as a hockey kid and didn’t really learn about the sport of basketball until Grade 6,” he said. “My parents bought me an outdoor hoop and I just couldn’t get away from it. That summer I attended the Edge camp in Sherwood Park hosted by Andre Lussier, who would eventually coach me for the next six years. After I made my team in junior high, I decided to quit hockey and pursue basketball full time. Playing NBA 2K also really increased my interest in the sport. I would see moves in the games and try to replicate them in real life. I think the main reason I love the sport is the feeling after winning a game. Every win is just evidence of the work you put in in practice showing up.” 

Unfortunately, COVID-19 showed up to ruin their hoop dreams of hopefully seeing the Scots peak with strong seniors during what would have been their Grade 12 run, not only just a downer, but something that made securing post-secondary scholarships very difficult. 

“Not being able to play due to COVID was huge for me,” said Krewenchuk, an 18-year-old centre/wing. “Missing out on three U.S. tournaments in 2020 over the summer really decreased my chances of pursuing the dream of going to the NCAA. Luckily, I played on the junior varsity team in Grade 10 and was coached by Kyle Nanan. Without him, I don’t think my recruiting would have been anywhere near as successful as it was. Missing my senior season was definitely a huge blow. As a team, we felt that this was our year to win it all. The division had become slightly weaker and we had all improved so much as a team. Having players coming up from a back-to-back Metro-winning junior team was a huge addition, but COVID-19 took away our possibilities for greatness. 

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“It was definitely hard not being able to play this year because I feel as if I would have gotten substantially better,” said Healy, a 17-year-old shooting guard. “Even while training during COVID-19, it was hard to know if I was even getting better or staying the same or even getting worse. I am for sure thankful to have landed a spot at Concordia. It was nice to know that my skill was recognized through a time like this and I am thankful for the coaches for taking a chance on me.” 

Richard Healy is one of three Scots joining the Thunder this fall. Photo Supplied
Richard Healy is one of three Scots joining the Thunder this fall. Photo Supplied

Yanick, an 18-year-old power forward, said so much time away from the court definitely took a toll, both physically and mentally. 

“The lack of sport, in general, this year I think has been very hard on not only me, but all athletes,” he noted. “For me, it was very difficult to stay motivated. I would get into a new routine practicing twice a week with a new team then it would get shut down till further notice. There was no reliable schedule that I could look forward to when I was going to play next. This made it tough to put my own work in to get better because it felt like I was putting in work for nothing as if I was sweating and hurting just for a possibility to play again. During the winter with the inability to go to outdoor hoop it was especially hard, I think I went something like three months without even shooting a ball. As well, the lack of play with others made it difficult to see if I was actually getting better, whenever we did have practices it was non-contact so we had no gauge of whether or not we were improving. Despite all that, I did land with Concordia and it felt amazing. Since I was young I always wanted to play post-secondary basketball and I know Concordia has a great program. I feel like signing with them finally gratified all the work I’ve put in, not only this year, but since I started playing.” 

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It’s not only a boon to land spots with the Concordia Thunder, but to do so as a power trio all coming from the same Sherwood school who are all in the same boat and paddling in the same direction. 

“Having two of my teammates take this jump to play basketball at a higher level is for sure comforting,” Healy said. “It is nice knowing I will always have someone to have my back moving on. Our chemistry will continue to grow and will become an essential part of how we play with each other going on.” 

“As going to college is a new experience for all of us I think it will be nice to have a sense of familiarity going into it,” Yanick added. “On the basketball side of things, the three of us have played together quite a bit and have learned the tendencies of one another on the court, making it easier for us to succeed when playing together.” 

“Being able to attend Concordia having two teammates, and close friends at my side really makes the transition a whole lot easier,” Krewenchuk concluded. “Tyler and I have played on the same team since we were 13 years old and have really built a connection on the court. It will be nice to attend both classes and team events with two long-time friends with me, as it will be a lot easier to get comfortable with the new team.” 

sjones@postmedia.com 

twitter.com/Realshanejones 

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