Five years ago, Oleks Bobrovskyy knew next to nothing about North American football.
Hardly a surprise, considering the 17-year-old linebacker grew up in Ukraine where soccer, wrestling and basketball are among the European country’s most popular sports.
But since moving to Grande Prairie, Alta., back in 2008, Bobrovskyy has taken to the gridiron like a duck to water.
And if all goes as planned, the affable but hard-hitting 6-foot-1, 240-pound St. Joseph high school product will continue to see his game evolve wearing the colours of the Okanagan Sun.
Based on his impressions of Kelowna and the BCFC team following the Sun’s spring camp over the weekend, Bobrovskyy said there’s an excellent chance he will be back for main camp in July.
“I also went to Calgary Colts camp, and I have to say the intensity and talent of the players is better here, and I really like the coaches (with the Sun),” said Bobrovskyy, who played in this year’s Alberta Senior Bowl, a showcase for the province’s top players. “The overall image of the (Sun) team is good and I like the city a lot. I’d have to say right now this is my top choice.”
Defensive coordinator Nathan Mollard said Bobrovskyy fits the profile of the kind of player the Sun defense is looking for.
“He grasped the system pretty quick, but the nicest thing is he’s just a hard-nosed kid who’s going to go down and find the contact,” said Mollard. “That’s something we’ve been looking for for a number of years with the Sun. He’s very physical, a strong kid for his age. And he’s a great kid.”
If Bobrovskyy continues to work hard and refine his game, Mollard said the young Albertan could conceivably be the club’s starting middle linebacker come the Sun’s season opener.
If that happens, Bobrovskyy—and all of his Sun teammates—will be learning an entirely new defense this season.
Mollard said the Sun will do everything it can to make life miserable for opposing offenses with a 3-3-6 formation, an unusual strategy for any team north of the border.
“You’re not going to see this defense anywhere in Canada,” he said. “It’s Americanized, you see it at South Carolina, West Virginia runs it, Arizona…it’s a fun defence to be a part of, a pressure defense, a turnover. The kids loved it this weekend.”