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Jonas Kazadi prepares to take a shot for the Bisons

Jonam Kazadi is finding the balance with basketball

The third-year Bison and Recreation Management and Community Development student is ready to take the court for the Canada West Championship

February 22, 2024 — 

Like so many younger siblings, Jonam Kazadi says he didn’t find his interest in basketball alone. Instead, he found it because his older brother wanted to play, and “I just did everything he did.”

“I’m the younger brother; I don’t make my own choices,” he says.

Luckily, his brother chose wisely for him. Kazadi’s passion and skill for basketball developed, and playing quickly became second nature. Without realizing it, Kazadi says he began to enjoy studying the sport’s technical side and analyzing the pros, and it started to shape who he is and how he engages with the world around him.

“I like having the freedom to grow, not just as a basketball player, but mentally as well,” says Kazadi. “It helps me to see things differently.”

The sport did more than shape Kazadi’s mentality. It also created new paths for his future. Originally planning to go into the trades after high school, his rising talents and skill in basketball earned him the opportunity to join the Manitoba Bisons and enrol at the University of Manitoba.

Now a student of the Recreation Management and Community Development program in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management, Kazadi has found a program that embraces his love of sport. The program helps prepare students for a future as recreation professionals, which can involve jobs in various fields, from marketing to community development.

“I was looking for something that makes me feel at home and still able to pursue my sports career,” says Kazadi.

Kazadi says he often takes the same lessons learned on the court into the classroom. When he needs a break from studying, he’ll train up shots before returning to schoolwork. While juggling academics and sport can be overwhelming at times, especially having started classes online during the COVID-19 pandemic, Kazadi says he’s found a healthy balance between his student and athlete commitments and approaches both with a similar fervour.

“Classes, you have tests. The games are the tests in basketball,” says Kazadi. “You have to study and get all the work done ahead of time so that you can be ready when the time comes.”

Kazadi says he is taking Physical Education courses in addition to his regular classes and has plans to pursue a degree in education after he finishes his BRCMD, following in the footsteps of his mother, a principal.

“I like working in an interactive environment, and I am not a desk person,” says Kazadi. “I’m excited to express my love for sports and physical activity with other people and show them sports the way I see them.”

Kazadi’s love for sport is evident when you look at his impact on and off the court. Coming off a record-breaking 18-2 season, Kazadi and the Bisons are set to compete in the largest single-elimination event in Canadian university basketball history as they host the Canada West Conference Championships, which began Wednesday, Feb. 21.

“It’s huge for all of us personally, as a team, as a program, as a university and as a city to host this tournament,” says Kazadi.

It’s a bit of a bigger venue then the ones he and his brother started in, but Kazadi said it’s been a dream to play in front of sold-out crowds at home and one he hopes to see continue as the Bisons head into the tournament ranked fourth in the conference. The team plays in session four on Thursday, Feb. 22 at 8:00 p.m. Get your tickets now.

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