The foundations of a career

Pribilsky lands assistant coach position after five-year university career

Adam Williams, Sports Editor Ω

Kevin Pribilsky is using the skills he honed in five years of CIS basketball to ease the transition to his new role as an assistant coach with the TRU WolfPack. Photo Andrew Snucins

Kevin Pribilsky is using the skills he honed in five years of CIS basketball to ease the transition to his new role as an assistant coach with the TRU WolfPack. Photo Andrew Snucins

On Feb. 16, 2013, Kevin Pribilsky played his final CIS basketball game.

At 23, and with five years of experience under his belt — two years at Simon Fraser University and three at Thompson Rivers University — it signalled the end of a distinguished university basketball career for the Victoria native. Pribilsky was named the school’s male athlete of the year and was a nominee for the Cliff Neufeld Leadership Award for his work in the community.

He also had a job waiting for him.

WolfPack head coach Scott Clark extended an assistant coaching offer to his former team captain, one that Pribilsky happily accepted. Now at the midway point of his first season at the side of the court rather than on it, he is finding his groove as part of the ’Pack’s staff.

“It’s been fun, it’s been a good experience actually,” Pribilsky said in December. “It’s quite a bit different playing than coaching, right? So it’s a totally new experience.”

Pribilsky admitted it’s sometimes been difficult to be the coach, with much less control over the outcome of a game than he would have had as a player. But at the same time, he was ready to try something new when his eligibility came to an end at the conclusion of last season, he wasn’t looking to play overseas and he’d done his time at the university level. He’s enjoyed being able to work as a coach with the WolfPack’s players, many of whom are his friends, including his brother Reese, who is in his first year with the team after leaving the University of Victoria Vikes at the conclusion of the 2011-12 season.

Working under Clark has been a good learning experience for Pribilsky as well. He and Clark have history together – it was Clark who coached the young point guard in his first two seasons with the SFU Clan. When Clark left his head coaching position at SFU for the same position at TRU, Pribilsky followed shortly after. He’s now part of a small contingent of the ’Pack with ties to the Clan and Clark, which includes fellow assistant coach Chas Kok and current WolfPack forward Tallon Milne.

Clark has had influence on Pribilsky, and not only in terms of the coaching style he’s adopted.

“His passion for people, I haven’t seen too many who can match it,” Pribilsky said, citing Clark’s tendency to take personal pride in seeing his players accomplish their goals. “He in it to make you a better person, but does it through basketball.”

And for Reese, having his brother as a part of his new team’s coaching staff has helped ease his transition. A point guard like his older brother, Reese has been able to learn from the advice and guidance of Kevin.

“It’s been awesome,” Reese said. “He’s got a natural feel for coaching, when to say stuff, when not to say it … and how to deliver it.”

Pribilsky has managed to find a job, one that could build the foundation of a career, through basketball, though not in the manner he might once have expected. Right now, it’s a way for him to stay involved in the game and cover his tuition costs. Following this season, who knows what the future may bring.

“I do like the game and I do understand the game quite well, so I think it might be something I’ll look into,” Pribilsky said. “I could definitely see myself pursuing that later in my life or in the coming years, but right now I haven’t quite decided.”