Black Ravens or Hockey Not for Cravens

«Mother» of HSE Ice Hockey club talks about the organization and plans for future.

Black Ravens or Hockey Not for Cravens

Every HSE student knows that combining studies, hobbies, and often even work is not easy. But not for our guys! Meet the HSE Ice hockey club «Black Ravens»! We talked with the club's manager Anastasia Pryanikova about how the combination succeeds, what difficulties they have to cope with and what the guys are striving for in the future.

This sparkling temperamental game is inexhaustible, as the thirst for rivalry and self-affirmation is inexhaustible in a person ... And this game triumphs, lives, attracts millions of boys,said Valery Kharlamov, legend number 17, about ice hockey.

And he was right. Having started playing hockey once, many are unable to give it up, even when it seems impossible to continue, whether due to injuries, age or admission to the HSE.

Hello, Anastasia! «Black Ravens» is one of the most mysterious and little-known organizations of the HSE. Will you please tell us how it all started.

Our club was founded by students from the Faculty of Economics in 2010. They have been playing ice hockey since childhood and did not want to stop while studying at the University. Therefore, they decided to create a team at HSE. They recruited the players themselves, collected the necessary documents, communicated with the Department of Physical Education. And gradually the club began to expand. Five years later there was a golden composition of our team. Then, in 2015, they took part in the match for the 3rd place in the Moscow Student Hockey League (MSHL). However, unfortunately, we have not yet risen above the 4th place.

What about now?

We continue to play in the MSHL: the regular season is underway. Now we are in 7th place. But not all the games have been played in the group stage yet, so, of course, we hope to qualify for the playoffs. For sure, it would have been great to get any medals, but we look at it soberly (laughs). Now our task is to reach the playoffs.

Who is on the team? Are there bachelors, master students or graduates?

There are no graduates, because according to the rules of the League, only students and only between the ages of 18 and 24 can play. But our team is very diverse. There are mainly HSE students from the 1st to the 4th year of bachelor's degree. Also, there are some guys from the Master programs. And, also, we have legionnaires — players from other universities. But despite the differences, they are all united.

Does hockey take a lot of time? Do you have any schedule?

Every Wednesday at 11 p.m. players train for an hour and a half at the Spartak ice arena in Sokolniki. Once every one or two weeks on the weekend they have a game. So totally it is about 4 hours a week. But the League games are held in Podolsk. Therefore, we spend another 4 hours to get there and back. Sometimes the game itself lasts less than the road in one direction (laughs). Some guys train extra on Thursdays at the APIA Arena. Friendly matches are also often held there, which more or less compensate the lack of training.

Do you have a coach?

Yes, we have a professional coach. His name is Sasha. As I know, he was an acquaintance of one of our players. There were other coaches before him, but there were some misunderstandings with them. Somehow the whole team had a connection with Sasha at once. And now he’s been with us for about 10 years!

And who else is there in the team? How are the «Black Ravens» arranged from the point of organization?

In addition to the players and the coach, there is a team captain, two of his assistants and me in the role of the manager. The key figures are, of course, the captain and the coach. But the whole organizational part is on me: the team's application for participation in the League, collecting medical certificates and other papers, communicating with the Department about all costs, renting ice, ordering a form. And, also, running social networks, match announcements, photos, shooting videos. Sometimes it seems to me that I'm like their mom (laughs). Really - I help if they forget something or have problems with studying. The HSE, unfortunately, does not give athletes any indulgences. Therefore, I try to help them so that they stay in the team, and so that they are not expelled.

How do you combine hockey with studying? Can it be successful?

To be honest, I do not know how we do it. It is difficult. Sometimes you have to prioritize. I always say at the beginning of the season that they have to be able to prioritize. Time management solves everything. They join the team consciously, knowing well that studying is not going anywhere. And they share responsibility for this team. Therefore, they try to find a middle ground, for what I am very grateful to them. Yes, somewhere they skip classes, somewhere they sacrifice rest. But they still come to training, to games and show results without getting anything in return.

And how do teachers treat classes skipping?

In different ways. Not everyone and not always, but many still understand our reasons. Training do not interfere with studying, because it takes place in the evening. But the games sometimes are on Saturday, when there are classes. In such situations, we try to negotiate with the teachers: to work out the skipping with another group, or somehow else.

Does it happen that studying overrides hockey? Do tests, exams, and deadlines interfere?

Of course, it happens. And not just studying. But now we have about 20 people in team, and three fives arrive steadily. That is, everyone replaces each other. The difficult period was in 2020: many were ill or left Moscow for home because of distance learning. The games continued, but there were very few players. Accordingly, the result was not very good. But now we seem to be finally recovering.

Do we understand correctly that students do not receive grades, credits or scholarships for playing?

True. In other universities athletes receive some bonuses: increased scholarships, marks for physical education. There is no physical education at HSE, but we really do have mandatory project activities. However, studying here is more important than sports, so we do not get credits, no matter how much we ask for it. But we do play with enthusiasm. For myself, I try to consider this as a unique work experience and hope that when I graduate, I will be able to get some kind of confirmation of that, for example, recommendation letter.

Do you have to invest any funds in the team? For example, ice rent, payments for coach, equipment?

Yes. The guys spend a long time on the services of the coach themselves, but recently we were able to shift these costs to the Department of Physical Education. This is very good news, because having a coach is not cheap. The HSE also sponsors the rental of ice, uniforms and a fee for participation in the League. The problem is that for all expenses of each student organization, it allocates only a certain amount and only once a year. For some clubs, this may be really a lot. But hockey is a very expensive sport, so we don't have enough money. Clubs, washers, some consumables have to be bought by ourselves.

consumables have to be bought by ourselves. Are there any other sources of funding? Sponsors, for example?

This is a different story. It is very difficult to find sponsors, because they do not see prospects in the MSHL. We were offered partnership by some stores, but the maximum they can give is discounts on their products. Unfortunately, coupons are useless for us. We need money. HSE also has grant competitions, but everything is difficult with them, too. The winners are chosen by students by voting, and they usually prefer such hyped giants as HSE Dance or Curators.

Is there really so little support? Hockey is very popular in Russia. What about fans?

This is my pain. No matter how many posters I put, no matter what student communities I write to, there are still very few fans. And I perfectly understand why. Firstly, it's still a location. It seems to me that if we had played in Moscow, there would have been many times more people. And secondly, everyone has a really tight schedule. But anyway I keep writing everywhere that we have a hockey club that really needs your attention and support!

Do other clubs have similar situation?

This is some kind of phenomenon for me. No, other teams have almost fan clubs with posters and drums. Maybe they are given something for this, maybe they have less academic workload or a hostel in Podolsk. Or maybe in their institutions, in general, sports are more developed and for them it's just a form of communication — to go to a game together and support the team. Unfortunately, there is no such thing in HSE yet. But I hope to fix it soon.

Could you tell, please, how and when it is possible to get to you?

You can get to us all year round. With the exception of the playoff period, because according to the League rules, all players who participate in the playoffs must play at least 3 matches for the team in the group stage. Officially the recruitment begins in September, when everyone returns from the summer holidays, happy and rested! We announce the start of recruitment in all social networks of the HSE. You need to fill out a small questionnaire and wait for feedback.

Are there any requirements for candidates?

The main criterion is to have a hockey school behind you. Unfortunately, due to the fact that we train only once a week, we don't have time to teach anybody how to play from scratch.

Is there any selection?

Yes, there is. The first stage is the selection according to the questionnaire. Hockey keeps statistics carefully, so it's easy to find all hockey players by name on Google and find out about their experience. Those who have experience, we call for viewing. Viewing takes place in Sokolniki as a regular training. The coach watches the guys and decides who we take.

How do students apply for a place in the team?

This year, about 30 guys came to the viewing. We selected 10 of them. But some drop out of the team during the year, so places are vacated. Especially often it's about guys from 1st bachelor course. No matter how much I tell them to think carefully about everything, they still go with the words "We can!" and believe in themselves. Then the winter session begins, and all their dreams are shattered.

Do you take foreigners into the team?

If a person suits by age and plays well, why not. Although it is necessary to take into account some circumstances. Of course, everyone in our team speaks English. Except for the coach and the judges. Yes, the guys can translate, but it may not be very convenient from a practical point of view. But to be honest, we just haven't had such a practice yet. We once received an application from a guy either from Canada or from the USA. But we didn't take him, not because he is a foreigner or doesn't speak Russian, but because he was already 25 years old. That is, he just didn't fit the age. Other way, of course, we wouldn't mind.

Do you need anyone else in the team besides the hockey players themselves? For example, HSE Football League, as I know, have separate teams of photographers and reporters.

Yes! Sports organization is not only about sports, but also about management, journalism, design, and marketing. Therefore, we definitely need not just hockey players! Next year I plan to recruit media and PR teams, and we are looking for active talented guys who can help us continue to develop. And I continue to believe in the best.

Anastasia, thank you very much for an interesting talk. Wishing the «Black Ravens» only victories and success!

Dear readers, we are pleased to invite you to support the «Black Ravens»! After all, going to hockey is really a great reason to spend time with friends at the institute, take a break from studying and get a lot of new bright emotions! You can find out about the upcoming games in the «Black Ravens» group in VKontakte or in HSE announcements about student events.

Margarita Mayorova