Former TV journalist takes shot as new Ooks basketball coach

Former Ook thrilled to be holding court at NAIT

The first day of school will feel like Christmas morning for NAIT men’s basketball head coach Slav Kornik (Radio and Television ’02). That’s the day he starts running regular practices, after a long summer of preparation.

“Since I started [in May], my job has been 95% other stuff,” says Kornik of the piles of administrative tasks, budgets, scholarships and other details requiring his attention. “I’m looking forward to finally getting on the court, doing what I love and being around the guys, building a cohesive team. I just want to get the season going.”

Always an Ook

The NAIT grad played four seasons for the men’s basketball team as a student. While he admits it feels a little strange to walk the halls again, it’s thrilling to be back.

“I’m looking forward to finally getting on the court, doing what I love.”

“It’s definitely special,” he says. “Going back into the gym and seeing the championship [banners] we won, that’s been cool.”

Those memories are sweet, but some things have changed since Kornik’s playing days. There weren’t full-time coaches when he was a student-athlete in the early 2000s, and far fewer scholarships available. The competition has changed as well, with athletic programs such as Keyano College joining the league and others moving into different divisions.

“Even from a player personnel standpoint, there are a lot more Americans in the league than there were before,” he says. “It’s changed a lot.”

Ooks men's basketball coach Slav Kornik

Taking on new challenges

Kornik spent the last 15 years working as a journalist, first as a television sports reporter in Lloydminster and Red Deer and later in online news and working on the morning show at Global Edmonton, where he finished his broadcasting career.

While some parts of the transition have been challenging, Kornik is glad this is now his full-time gig.

“Basketball was always on the side,” he says. “I'm excited to coach.”

He says the skills he learned while broadcasting will come in handy as a coach and help him connect with the team.

“I feel comfortable talking in front of people,” Kornik says. “You’re always communicating with your athletes.”

“I just want to coach basketball and get doing what I love to do.”

When not in a newsroom or on-air, Kornik spent much of his free time the last seven years in various basketball coaching roles around Edmonton. He was an assistant coach at the University of Alberta and Archbishop O’Leary High School, head coach at Strathcona High School, and held different positions with Basketball Alberta and Canada Basketball. They were the perfect lead-up to being head coach at NAIT, he says, but there’s still a steep learning curve.

“I used to just show up and coach, do on-court stuff,” he says, pointing to scholarships and budgeting as two of the tougher tasks to figure out this summer at NAIT. “It’s been challenging, but exciting to extend myself to do things I haven’t done before and I’m not comfortable with.”

Looking ahead

Kornik will draw on his past experience as an Ook as he takes on this new chapter. During his time as a student-athlete, he played for Marc Dobell, who shaped his love of the game, along with U of A head coach Barnaby Cradduck. This season, he’ll take what he learned from the two and use that to approach his own team.

“I’ve been influenced by those I’ve worked with,” he says. “But I’ll have my own personality and try to be myself.”

For now, he’s counting down the days until the school year officially starts and he can spend more time in the gym than in his office.

“I just want to coach basketball and get doing what I love to do.”

Ooks men's basketball coach Slav Kornik

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