Kevin Sawka wears many hats in the Prince Rupert community because he wants to teach kids the sport of basketball that he loves.

Kevin Sawka wears many hats in the Prince Rupert community because he wants to teach kids the sport of basketball that he loves.

VIDEO and Story: Basketball a way for Kevin Sawka to give back

Prince Rupert resident Kevin Sawka is involved in basketball from beginning to end in this community.




Kevin Sawka is nothing if not passionate about basketball and giving back to the community that raised him.

It’s why he devotes most of the hours of his week to passing on his knowledge to the next generations.

You may know Sawka as the phys-ed teacher at Charles Hays Secondary School (CHSS). Or you may know him as the teacher of the basketball course at the school, or even as the junior boys’ basketball coach. Maybe you know him as the coach of two teams in the Prince Rupert Minor Basketball Association (PRMBA).

But it’s all worth it to this proudly born-and-raised Prince Rupert resident. For him, it’s about seeing the kids he coaches grow and improve.

“The level of improvement and confidence that you see grow with these kids and being able to pass on that passion and share that passion with another group of kids is really what it’s all about for me,” he said.

Sawka is entering his sixth year as a teacher at CHSS. Previously, he worked at Prince Rupert Secondary School  for 10 years before the two high schools became one. He spent the first decade teaching social studies and geography, then social studies and physical education for five years. This year is his first as a full-time phys-ed teacher and he’s loving every minute of it.

Once the basketball season starts up, it will be the 17th season for Sawka as head coach of the junior boys basketball team. Something he loves about coaching this sport is that it’s always evolving.

“It never ceases to amaze me the amount of stuff there is to learn about the game of basketball,” said the coach, who attends basketball and coaching clinics every year to keep learning and improving himself.

This year, the team will look to improve on last year’s 26th placing at the BC High School Basketball Provincial Championships.

While he played many different sports as a kid, basketball is the only one he came back to. He played on the high school teams and then in intramural leagues while attending Simon Fraser University, but eventually his playing days had to be cut short due to requiring surgery on both of his knees. It’s what he considers his greatest obstacle.

“Having to deal with and coming to terms with not being able to play basketball anymore was pretty crushing,” Sawka said.

He fought his doctors advice not to play anymore until finally the pain was no longer worth it, leaving coaching as his only way left of connecting with the sport. But as much as he loves basketball, it’s about more than just the game.

“I just really enjoy the sport,” he said “It’s one of the reasons I got into teaching in the first place. It’s wanting to be involved with kids and building relationships with kids, not just the subject matter.”

One highlight that sticks out to Sawka is the 2007 season. The Rainmakers finished tenth at provincials, but it was the last time that his brother was his assistant coach.

“To have him there, helping out along the way, going to all the travel trips, and provincial championships as well, was really special to have him as part of that journey. It means a little bit more too.”

In a way, Sawka is involved at the beginning and the end of basketball in Prince Rupert. He coaches two teams of kids for PRMBA, one in the Grade 3-4 division and the other in the Grade 5-6 division. He is also division coordinator for both these age levels. But then he coaches the Grade 9 and 10 students at CHSS and his basketball course included Grades 9 through 12.

He is making his mark on Rupert kids, imprinting basketball on them until they graduate and choose to either pursue it at a varsity level or be content with what they’ve attained.

Another part of why the friendly teacher loves all the different ways he is involved in Rupert basketball is because it’s a way for him to give back.

“I feel a strong sense of wanting to give back because all of the people in our community that I still see around, put a lot of time into the different sports when I was a kid,” he said.

Sawka specifically mentioned CHSS senior boys’ basketball coach Mel Bishop and the late Bob Quast as big influences on him.

Although the sport is well and alive in Prince Rupert, Sawka hopes to see the game grow even more here. Some things he would like to see are more volunteer coaches who are willing to learn, more certified referees and keeping more kids involved in the sport going into high school. He said the girls side especially sees a lot of attrition once they hit Grade 9, so he wants to see more growth there as well.

Basketball is Sawka’s passion and it’s an honour for him to pass on the things he’s learned.

“It’s a shared passion — a passion that I have to journey with those kids and help them develop their skills, develop their communication abilities and athleticism.”

But Sawka says none of what he does would even be possible without the people in the community who have helped, either financially or in other ways. He’s aware that everybody needs a support team and Prince Rupert has been his since day one.

 

Just Posted

Visitors to a pop-up temporary aquarium in Prince Rupert will have the chance to see marine ecology from July 21 to Aug. 15, like this viewer watching sea anemones at the Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Prince Rupert pop-up aquarium will bring sea level to eye level in July

A permanent peak to reef ecology centre is in the planning stages by North Coast Ecology Society

Prince Rupert’s Ellen Wright and Graeme Dickens jam out during filming the two Ring System Studio concerts to be broadcast on television during June. (Photo: supplied, H. Cox)
Ring System Studio sounds on television

Two concerts by the Prince Rupert music school will be broadcast in June

Commerical marijuana grow ops that are budding up in Prince Rupert’s downtown core are legal and out of the city’s jurisdiction, Mayor Lee Brain said, on June 14. (Photo:supplied/K-J Millar)
Prince Rupert downtown’s pretty dope

Marijuana operations grow in the Prince Rupert city core

Unionized longshore and port workers gather along Highway 16 on June 15 not crossing the picket line where Prince Rupert Solidarity Movement group protests the docking and unloading of the JPO Volans, a ship with Israeli designed technology and equipment. (Photo: K-J Millar/the Northern View)
Prince Rupert Solidarity Group pickets at port in protest

Demonstrations against the container ship JPO Volans lead into the second day to dissuade docking

BC Ferries has announced the welcoming back onboard of recreational travellers on June 15 after the provincial travel restrictions were lifted. (Courtesy of BC Ferries)
BC Ferries welcomes back recreational passengers

The ferries corp will relax mask-wearing in outdoor spaces

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

A vial containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a vaccination site in Marcq en Baroeul, outside Lille, northern France, Saturday, March 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michel Spingler
mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

New recommendations prioritizes Pfizer, Moderna in almost all cases

Most Read