It’s easy to see when someone is passionate about something.
Sports can breed passionate players—players who wake up early to get in an early gym session before classes start and players who stay up late to hit just one more three on their makeshift court before bed. These players live and breathe their sport.
And for Semiahmoo’s Vlad Mihaila, basketball is his life.
It’s in the way he holds the ball, the way he dribbles down the court, the way he talks about his coach and his teammates, and the way his eyes light up when asked about the sport that has shaped him into the athlete is he today.
“I just realized how much opportunity it could bring and how many doors it could open. So once I realized that and I really fell in love with the sport, I just started putting more work in,” Mihaila said.
Ever since he was in Grade 3, Mihaila has been playing basketball; however, he didn’t take it too serious until he was in Grade 7. He went on to play high school ball with the Semiahmoo Totems where he found a mentor in head coach Ed Lefurgy.
“We’ve had a really good relationship,” Mihaila said of Lefurgy. “He’s coached me since I was Grade 8. And I played senior since I was Grade 10, so we’ve had a player/coach relationship for quite some time. We’ve become really close over the years. And there’s been lots of good moments and lots of bad moments, but I think our relationship’s really strong and we share a really strong bond, which is something that’s pretty special.”
He says Lefurgy has been his biggest inspiration both on-and-off the court.
“Seeing his commitment and how much he puts in for everyone—how he’s developed his program—has been pretty inspirational.”
Lefurgy was humbled to hear how highly Mihaila spoke of him and agreed that this past group of seniors holds a special place in his heart.
“These young guys have been awesome to work with, extremely dedicated to the game, and role models for the younger kids in our program, I love it. And you know what, these guys are going to have a close relationship with me for a long time.”
The relationship that Mihaila shared with Coach Lefurgy is something he hopes to find with his new team, too.
Recently, Mihaila committed to the University of the Fraser Valley where he’ll be a Cascade.
He said it was an easy decision as the coaching staff is extremely dedicated and has a program that will allow for him to develop, as well.
“My main priority is to try to improve and become the best player I can,” he said. “So number one, obviously I want to bring success to the team, as a team, but individually I was looking for a program where I feel I could develop and have some individual success…so I felt that with UFV, I’d have the ability to get into the gym every day, make progress to my game, and help the team improve.”
Mihaila recognizes that UFV will be a great school to grow with a team and also individually.
“I’m really looking forward to developing a good relationship with the coaches and players and creating some more life-long memories just like I did at Semiahmoo.”
This past season, Mihaila’s high school team made it all to the championship game in the BC Provincials where they unfortunately lost to the Burnaby South Rebels. Though the Totems were unable to bring home the banner, Mihaila felt a great sense of pride in his team and coach, and said they’ll be tough to replace.
“I loved every part of it. I loved all of the practices, and all of the open gyms and all of the scrimmages, and everything, but I’d probably have to say just all of the guys, all of my teammates [I’ll miss the most]. We’ve played together for five years, so we’re close friends. So it’s going to be tough saying goodbye and everybody taking their separate paths. But hopefully we all kind of stay close and continue our friendships."
And while Mihaila follows his basketball dreams to the post-secondary level, he leaves his fellow teammates with some final advice:
“Just work hard. Buy into the process. Listen to Lefurgy. And just play hard.”
All the best in your future basketball endeavours, Vlad! We look forward to seeing you in a Cascades’ jersey.
Written by: Crystal Scuor