UCHS alumnus Zenon Orobko hosts the first ever youth basketball camp at Unity.

UNITY – In an event, the first of its kind, a summer basketball camp is taking place at Unity in July.

Zenon Orobko, a former UCHS student and basketball player, now a college student and former Regina Thunder football player, said he decided to offer a basketball camp in the community for many reasons.

“I’m from here and the basketball community has been strong and growing for as long as I can remember. I still remember being in 4th grade and playing in the Steve Nash program with coaches Darren Stifter and Jeremy Wagner The second reason would be recent basketball success in and around Unity, the zenior boys are back-to-back silver medalists at Hoopla and the girls are back-to-back bronze medalists.

Orobko also notes the success of the McLurg women’s basketball team last season. He says basketball has never been more popular globally, nationally or provincially and the only place it can go is up.

Orobko’s basketball background is key to his decision to host a summer camp in his hometown. He said one of his “aha” moments came from winning the silver medal at Hoopla in his 11th year, then returning for his senior year to find even more players had enrolled in the basketball program.

“I also coached 7th grade boys with Matthew Snell for three consecutive seasons and it spurred my interest in coaching at the next level with all the fun we had in the gym with the boys.”

How does he follow his aspirations for education, coaching and other opportunities he is involved in? “Actually, I decided to end my football career this spring. After two great years with the Thunder, I chose to move on and focus on my life with my coaching and teaching career.

Orobko says he’s still busy teaching Campbell Collegiate spring camp and officiating flag football around the city, as well as backing up as an EA with Regina Public Schools.

Multi-sport development

“It has been a great experience for me to be in a classroom and see teaching from a different perspective.”

Believing in the multi-sport development of athletes, Orobko also refereed hockey last winter, notably at Hockey Sask. Officials Development Mode Camp in Lumsden in December. He mainly refereed Midget AA, Junior B and was also a linesman for Midget AAA and Junior B hockey.

Orobko says the camp at Unity this summer will be the only one of its kind, this year at least, but hopes to make it an annual event and perhaps expand in the future.

“Coaching will be part of my life until I can’t take it anymore. I believe that coaching and teaching go hand in hand and that the best teachers make the best coaches. Wherever I am, I intend to coach one sport or another.

Having recently completed his second year of studies at the University of Regina and now a substitute as a special teaching assistant in Regina Public Schools, Orobko is also involved with Saskatchewan-based Golden Ticket Sports and is part of their program of internships.

“The Golden Ticket Sports camp has been a pleasure so far, learning under experienced coaches and great people, Chris King from Lloydminster and Tanner Brightman from Regina.”

Orobko will lead summer basketball camp with Jade Belmore. Belmore is a forward for the U of R women’s basketball team, winning Canada West Rookie of the Year in 2022, and helped her team win a Canada West bronze medal.

“Jade is very committed to being a positive role model in the world of basketball and will be a great new face in the UCHS gymnasium for this camp. Another benefit of Jade’s absence is her impact on women’s basketball in the province. With three local teams winning medals at Hoopla last season, the love for the game is at an all time high and seeing Jade as an influence in the women’s game should be a point of interest for all female basketball players.

Orobko says: “The purpose of this camp is, above all, to develop interest in basketball. Players get the most out of the game when having fun with their friends, so we hope to extend this to a basketball ability while developing the learning element of the game. Decision making, skill development skill and understanding of the game will all be key elements around the main concept of game growth and, of course, fun.

Feeling like himself, he has known some amazing coaches growing up in Unity, including Stifter and Wagner, Orobko also nods to his dad, Pat Orobko, Quinn Maze and Justin Meredith.

“Coaching is one of the best ways to give back to the community, so that was a no-brainer. Now it’s kind of cool to think that my old coaches have kids that are the age I will be coaching. The basketball in Unity has only grown since I was young, and I’m excited to see where it can go.