Humans of UAlberta: Rylee Semeniuk

“I was always in the gym and always around the sport. I kind of just fell in love with it and stuck with it,” Semeniuk says

Rylee Semeniuk grew up surrounded by basketball. According to her, it was only natural to follow in her family’s footsteps as a University of Alberta Pandas basketball player.

In her third-year of eligibility playing for the Pandas basketball team as a guard, Semeniuk is also in the fourth year of her education degree. Her start in basketball started because of her family’s involvement in the sport — both her dad and grandma coached basketball at the University of British Columbia.

“I got introduced to it at such a young age and was always in the gym and around the sport. I just fell in love with it and stuck with it,” Semeniuk said. 

As her love for the sport grew, basketball became a way for Semeniuk to bond with her father and grandmother.

“[Basketball] became a massive part of our relationship, like getting in the gym and bonding. They actually both were my high school coaches as well. It made me feel closer to them and to the sport,” Semeniuk said.

Both of her parents played on varsity teams at the U of A. Her father, Marc Semeniuk, played for the Golden Bears basketball team when they won the 1993 and 1994 Canadian Intercollegiate Athletic Union (CIAU) national titles. Her mother, Sarah Prather, played for the Pandas soccer team when they won the CIAU 1997 title.

“They were really great about not forcing the sport on me but bringing it into my life, encouraging me, being role models for me, and sharing their experiences with it,” Semeniuk said. “My vision for myself aligned with how their careers went.”

It’s just been such a great group of girls and the culture that [Edwards] fosters is so great” Semeniuk says

Semeniuk has been playing for the Pandas with head coach, Scott Edwards, who guides her and the rest of her team in games and at practice, Semeniuk said. 

“Our coach does such a good job of bringing people into something bigger than the sport, like the family aspect. That’s just been so major for me because in sport and at this level, there are so many ups and downs,” Semeniuk said. 

Although her beginnings are from her family, she said her “group of girls” — or teammates — make the sport that much more enjoyable for her.

“You go to practice and there are people there every day trying to bring you up. We face all [the ups and the downs] together, which is really neat. You know that there are 16 girls on the team that have your back at all times.”

One of Semeniuk’s fondest memories was winning Canada West last year and going to nationals. This year, the Pandas hosted nationals from March 7 to 10 at the Saville Community Sports Center.

“The Edmonton community is so great at supporting us and the men’s team. Having it here and having our home fans, crowd, and gym is so exciting. To be able to bring that energy into our own city is just such a unique experience. I feel so lucky that I get to experience that during my career,” Semeniuk said.

Lale Fassone

Lale Fassone is studying media studies and linguistics. She served as the Deputy Arts and Culture Editor in spring 2022, Deputy Sports Reporter for 2023-2024 and Deputy News Editor in Summer 2023 and 2024. When she isn’t procrastinating her mountain-high workload or when not trying to learn yet another language, she can be found potentially working, writing, reading, or eating strawberries while watching the same rom-com over again.

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