First it was a season-ending knee damage that spoiled her Canada West debut, now it’s the pandemic.
However don’t despair UNBC Timberwolves followers. Svetlana (Sveta) Boykova will finally get to play basketball in Prince George and he or she plans to stay round for at the very least the subsequent 5 seasons.
The six-foot-one publish from Moscow, who twice represented Russia at Universiade, often known as the World College Video games, offers the T-wolves an immovable anchor in shut proximity to the online, the scale and energy they’ve lacked ever since all-star publish Vasiliki Louka graduated to the skilled ranks two years in the past.
The Canada West season has already been canceled, with no nationwide championship to play for, and through the present pandemic lockdown groups will not be allowed to play exhibition video games and even scrimmage in apply. Which means the 24-year-old Boykova received’t get showcase the slick strikes and stoic management that made her Russia’s alternative as captain nationwide workforce for the Universiade event in Napoli, Italy in July 2019.
The T-wolves signed her two summers in the past. The mom of a pal of hers in Moscow is aware of head coach Sergey Shchepotkin and his spouse Alla – each former nationwide workforce gamers in Russia – and informed them about Boykova. After speaking to her on the telephone, Sergey organized to satisfy Boykova on a basketball court docket in Russia for a pair one-on-one classes. Having heard the optimistic endorsements from her coaches he knew what to anticipate and wasn’t disillusioned.
“I needed to see her on the court docket and I performed towards her in apply and he or she satisfied me she will be able to play at this degree and I used to be glad to take her,” stated Shchepotkin.
“It’s difficult to recruit to UNBC so I used to be glad to seek out that skilled (participant) who I don’t have to show the basics,” he stated. “She already is aware of be robust below basket, she has excessive basketball IQ, she is aware of assistance on defence. She’s robust to play towards. On offence, she’s a very good shooter and he or she’s a very good rebounder. She was a captain of Russia’s college workforce so she has quite a lot of management. I’m fairly certain she is usually a chief.”
Louka performed 5 seasons for the T-wolves from 2014-2019 and was the primary UNBC feminine athlete to be named to the Canada West first all-star workforce. She’s the workforce’s all-time chief in factors, rebounds, block and minutes performed.
“We would have liked to interchange Vasiliki and Sveta’s type appears like Vasiliki’s,” stated Shchepotkin. “ She has massive expertise taking part in on the scholar nationwide workforce in Russia and he or she likes to play below the basket and he or she has a very good shot, like Vasiliki. But it surely’s not my goal to match her with Vasiliki, it’s simply good to know we cowl all these areas.”
Boykova is one among two Russians on the T-wolves’ roster together with fourth-year guard Alina Shakirova of Moscow. Shchepotkin’s contacts in Europe additionally led to the signing of six-foot-two ahead Laura Garmendia Garcia, who additionally red-shirted with a knee damage final season. Garmendia Garcia is from Spain, the identical nation that produced T-wolves’ level guard Maria Mongomo, who graduated final spring after 5 stellar seasons.
Boykova, who damage her knee final summer season in a recreation towards the T-wolves alumni squad, is satisfied the T-wolves might be aggressive towards Canada West opponents as soon as they’ve the inexperienced mild to begin taking part in once more. The short-staffed T-wolves superior to the second spherical of playoffs a yr in the past whereas 4 gamers sat out with knee accidents and two others had been sidelined with concussions.
“I like my workforce,” stated Boykova. “They’re actually good, they’ve expertise, they’ve good character and our coach is superb. They’re fairly younger however they’ve good backgrounds and so they actually wish to develop. And I do know that I may help them and that coach can enhance their expertise.”
Boykova has been taking part in basketball since she was seven, when she was first recognized by the Russian sports activities faculty system, and he or she grew up in a specialised program along with her educational schedule constructed round basketball coaching classes. She’s performed the sport in 24 nations and has been uncovered to a variety of basketball kinds and methods, based mostly on the bodily dimension of the groups she confronted, which helped develop her defensive versatility.
Universiade is a mini-Olympics and the spotlight for her was the athletes’ village in Taiwan, the place for two 1/2 weeks she and her teammates had been grouped along with athletes in all the opposite sports activities from every of the nations. Russia completed fourth within the 2017 Universiade in Taiwan and positioned fifth in Napoli two years later.
Boykova spent her first semester in Prince George dwelling with the Shchepotkins and their two children and that helped her study English in a rush. Boykova switched to the commerce program at UNBC final fall and has simply begun a double-major in finance and accounting which is able to take 5 years to finish. The 2020-21 Canada West season has been cancelled due to COVID and since she was unable to play for the T-wolves final season and red-shirted which means Boykova may find yourself being a part of the workforce for seven seasons by the point she graduates.
This yr received’t rely towards college eligibility for U Sports activities athletes and the T-wolves may probably return eight veterans for 2021-22, together with seniors Madison Landry and Emma VanBruinessen, fourth-year Shakirova, third-year vets Cevanna Carlson and Lucy Guan and sophomores Anastasia Soltes and Rebecca Landry.
VanBruinessen is graduating after the present time period and received’t be again subsequent season however there’s nonetheless an opportunity the all-star ahead, Madison Landry will return if she doesn’t get into medical faculty. Boykova and Garmendia Garcia head the T-wolves’ rookie crop together with forwards Bella Mesquita and Maggie Mowser and guards Sarah Kuklisin and Jenna Korolek, a Kelly Highway Secondary College grad.
The T-wolves final performed two months in the past after they traveled to Kamloops for 2 exhibition video games towards Thompson Rivers College and one towards UBC-Okanagan – all wins. They had been all set to host TRU for a pair extra video games at Northern Sport Centre the next weekend when the order got here down from the province to limit groups from touring.
“I can’t say the video games I performed in November had been my finest video games, as a result of I used to be not in my regular form and conditioning as a result of I skipped one,” stated Boykova. “However I’ll say that now it’s January, I’m doing higher than within the video games in November.”
“I’m actually glad we’re having face-to-face training. Lots of the groups within the province are simply training on Zoom (resulting from COVID restrictions), and I don’t know how that works.”
Provincial well being orders at the moment in place till Feb. 5 forbid any workforce scrimmages however the workforce is allowed to run no-contact drills so long as the gamers keep at the very least three metres of separation from one another on the court docket. They are going to proceed training at the very least till the top of February. If the ban on video games/scrimmages is prolonged Shchepotkin stated there received’t be any extra video games scheduled till gamers return to Prince George in the summertime.