By Paul Esau (The Cascade)– Email

Print Edition: September 25, 2013

Gavryliuk participates in a classic weave drill.
Gavryliuk participates in a classic weave drill.

Name: Natalia Gavryliuk
Hometown: Vinnytsia, Ukraine
Last School: Odessa College, Texas
Number: 11 (for 17 years until this year)
Position: Guard
Favorite Food: Seafood
Strangest thing about Abbotsford: the smell of cows.

You’ve been out of high school for a while. Where have you played basketball after high school?
I went to university in the Ukraine. If we continue to play after high school we have to sign a contract because it’s official and professional basketball. So I signed for five years with my team in the Ukraine. I played there, finished university, and then I decided to get another education, more serious, because in the Ukraine I can be a coach, but I didn’t want to be that. So I moved to the United States and I also got scholarship there. I was supposed to stay in the USA and I got invitations from Duke and Florida universities. The problem was my age and that I’d already played in the Ukraine. If you play professionally it’s just not fair; it’s against the rules in the NCAA. So I checked Canada’s level of basketball, whether they had a good university program. I also checked out Regina and Windsor, but I like UFV.
There are a lot of universities in the area, so why UFV?
Yeah, but I know that this team is on the top, that’s why I chose UFV. I couldn’t go to a very bad team … I like to play with girls who understand the game [laughs].

Are you excited about playing with this team so far? Are you excited about UFV?
It’s good. I like the coach, I like the practices, that we are always playing five on five … hopefully we can win a championship this year.

How are you adjusting to playing in Canada, playing on this team? Are the players different? Are they sillier, more professional?
Well, they’re not silly [laughs]; they’re smart, and they are family. In Ukraine it’s more like a job. You come to practice, you do your job, and you go home … to compare this team to Odessa College, this team is more friendly.

What are you looking forward to this year, playing with this team and studying at this university?
To finish this year as a good student and help the team win a championship. I’m a winner. In the Ukraine, all five years we won the championship. I love to win.

So you are used to winning [laughs].
Yes, that’s why I come here: to help if I can.

So what skills do you think you bring to this team?
The difference between Canadian basketball and European basketball is that in Europe it is more of a thinking, technique-based game. In North America it is more physical, you have to run and you have to push. With my experience I hope I will help. I love shooting the three and assisting people.

When did you arrive in Canada? Is this your first time being here?
Yes, this is my first time in Canada. I didn’t know nothing about this Canada. Some people told me it was just like the US … I arrived three weeks ago, and they actually lost my bag in the airport.

Well, if the only thing you can complain about so far is the smell of cows, then you must be a very positive person.

Maybe I don’t know much yet [laughs].