Swish 3×3 basketball tournament a slam dunk

Artem Zhurakovkii, the founder of the tournament, expressed how pleased he was with the results

After half a year of planning, preparation, phone calls, emails, discussions and negotiations, Artem Zhurakovkii, the Swish 3×3 basketball tournament’s founder, can now sigh a sigh of relief.

In the realm of student-led events, grabbing sponsors’ attention can be a formidable challenge. Zhurakovkii had sponsors, like Popeyes, in his 2023 tournament, but this time it was big. For the first time, the event had a money prize.

“It’s challenging to attract sponsors’ attention to events like ours,” Zhurakovskii said. “We are a student group with high hopes and dreams. I am glad that Popeyes, Kamloops KIA, TRUSU and Wolfpack trusted us and helped us out. Their attendance made the event better.”

Operating on a tight budget, Zhurakovskii highlighted their reliance on social media and creativity to draw attention and participants to the tournament.

“We bet on social media and creativity a lot,” Zhurakovskii said. As a student group with limited resources, we don’t have spare money to spend on advertising. That’s the reason we are trying to come up with engaging content that will bring more attention and participants to the event.”

It all paid off, as the event garnered international attention.

“Once, a team from Bangladesh wanted to fly to Kamloops and participate in our event. It was the craziest one! Apart from that, we had international students playing from almost all continents of the world, not counting Antarctica, though.”

Events like this always require careful planning, but sometimes things don’t go along the plans.

“Always,” Zhurakovkii said. “Event planning is always about challenges and how you can approach them to deliver participants the best experience. The gym looked like a construction zone all week long before the tournament. Fortunately, the workers finished on time, but we were ready to come and help them on Friday if needed.”

For Zhurakovkii, this Swish event, the third he has organized, was bittersweet, as it was his last before graduation.

“[I am] very happy and sad at the same time,” Zhurkovkii said. “I love this project; it’s part of my life. I have put a lot of effort into it and established a new thing for local basketball players. Now that I am graduating from TRU, I still have no idea where I will get a job. If I get something here in Kamloops, wait for the fourth chapter of this basketball novel next year.”

One of the volunteers chatted with Omega about how the event went from his perspective. Timur Zonduev is a first-year international student at TRU. Zonduev, who is from Russia, played for one of the teams at the tournament and shared why he decided to join the Swish family.

“Basketball is a huge part of my life. It’s very interesting if there are any opportunities to join the basketball community,” Zonduev said. “Artyom is my best friend, so it was my duty to help. It was splendid. It’s my first experience [playing] foreign basketball. It’s very competitive, very unique.”

Zonduev participated in the event as both a volunteer and a competitor.

“Actually, I was very surprised with the result of my team,” Zonduev said. “I thought we’d lose right away. Guys in my team were very skillful. The fact that we advanced to play in the playoffs was very interesting. All of the competitors did their best.”

Similar to Zonduev, Connor Gunn, a member of the winning team, credited his friendship with Zhurakovskii as his motivation for entering the tournament.

“Well, honestly, Artyom was the reason why I decided to participate,” Gunn said. “He’s that guy who works his tail off [and] really knows how to run an event. He knows how to get the crowd involved; [how to] get people from school and university to come out. He puts on a good show. Everyone should be grateful for having him here in TRU. He’s an exceptional young man and a hard-working individual.”

According to Gunn, this year’s Swish 3×3 tournament was better than the last.

“I participated in last year. It wasn’t nearly as good, or maybe I wasn’t as good. [Still,] it was a great event,” Gunn said. “I [have] loved basketball forever. It’s a cool feeling to win a tournament like [this one]. We all participated to show our support for Artyom, TRU, and all the international students who helped.”

Sometime soon, stop and listen if you find yourself standing in the middle of the TRU gym. Perhaps, if you’re lucky, you’ll hear the echoes of basketballs bouncing and cheers reverberating, a testament to the event’s success and the community it has fostered.