HSE Basketball Universe: More Than Just a League

HSE Basketball 5x5 League's past, present, and future in HSE.

HSE Basketball Universe: More Than Just a League

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HSE has long been famous not only for the highest quality of education, but also for the brightest student life. Among all student communities, one stands out especially strongly. These people make noise at all the HSE student festivals, regularly hold spectacular Championships, and any international corporation will envy their internal organization.

We have already told you about «Girls with Balls». Now we would like to tell you about the whole universe of HSE basketball. And the CEO of 5x5 League Dima Prokopiev helped us in this. From his interview, you will learn about how the basketball community was born in HSE, what it consists of, about trainings, championships, the First International Tournament and much more.

Basketball team in HSE appeared back in 1994, and at the same year it reached the second league of the Moscow University Championship. In 1998, a basketball section was opened for everyone, and since then “amateur” HSE basketball also started to develop.

Hello, Dima! Please tell us how it all started.

The domestic HSE Championship first appeared in 2008. It was initiated by several guys who were both organizers, statisticians, and judges, in general, "jacks of all trades". But then they graduated, and in 2014-2015 the Championship was put on pause. Two years later, with the support of its founders and coaches, Anya Grishanova decided to revive it. And since 2017, basketball at HSE has taken the form of an official student organization – the HSE Basketball League!

At that time I was in the 1st year of bachelor and at first only played. Since 2018 I began to get involved also in the organization. I knew how similar Leagues function at other universities, and I wanted to improve something here as well. So I started to do everything! Anya saw it, and in 2019, when she became more busy, she handed over the League to me.

What us the structure of the basketball community? What does it consist of?

Our community consists of two parts under a single brand.

The first part is the university team. It is based on the Department of Physical Education, which finances and regulates it. University team plays in the Student Basketball Association, SBA, an inter university basketball tournament.

The second part is the student organization “HSE Basketball League”, which exists for itself. The Department also helps it, but mostly it's some kind of amateur activity. It includes 5x5 League, 3x3 League and Women's League.

And, of course, there is an Organizing Committee. It performs 4 basic functions:

  • Operational – organization and conduct of matches, work with referees, protocols, photo and video shooting.
  • Sports – interaction with team captains, collecting game contributions.
  • SMM – working with partners, advertising, publishing on social networks.
  • HR – monitoring the work of the other three departments.

Each function is responsible for its own department. Each department has its own leader and subordinates. Although they are formally divided between the Leagues, in fact they are cross-functional and communicate closely with each other, because in the end all the Leagues and the university team are a single product. For example, the same photographer can work in a 5x5 League, but also photograph matches of the Women's League and the university team. The same applies to players – the same person can play for both a 5x5 League team and a 3x3 League team.

How many teams and players are there in the League now?

Twelve teams in the 5x5 League and about sixteen in the 3x3 League. Plus 5 or 6 women's teams. We have 199 unique players this year, including girls. It seems that it is not enough for 34 teams, but this is precisely due to the fact that many guys play for different clubs at the same time.

How are the League teams formed?

In different ways. Someone studied together, someone went to our workouts together. Some met in the dorm, played among themselves, and then decided to start playing in the League. There are an incredible number of ways to form teams. For example, I found mine on VKontakte – I just wrote "looking for a team" in the discussions.

But the general principle is usually the same – they are grouped not by skills, but by interests. Friends play with friends. Although sometimes the opposite is also possible: people become friends during the game.

Could you please tell about the players? Who can play for the League and for the university team? Are there any restrictions?

Anyone who is legally connected with HSE in any way can play for the League. First of all, of course, these are students, we have about half of them: bachelors, masters, specialists, postgraduates, students of additional education and professional retraining programs, students who have dropped out. These are lyceum students, students from HSE-affiliated schools, and former lyceum students, even if they are now studying at another university. And even teachers. And there are also graduates – we have 30 percent of them. Last year there was a team of graduates who stood almost at the origins of the League. They are already 30-35 years old.

In the university team, the restrictions are stricter, but they are set by the SBA. The player must be a current student under the age of 25.

Will say some words about workouts?

The training process is standard: warm-up, game exercises, working out game combinations. The training of the university team differs from the training for everyone by the level of complexity. Those that are for everyone are lighter and less energy-consuming. They are designed for people who are tired of studying and work and just want to play a little basketball on a Wednesday night. The university team trains, of course, for the result.

Another difference is in the frequency of workouts. The university team trains separately from all 3 times a week, and all the others, officially, train only one time. Teams from the League, if they also want to do more, organize additional workouts themselves.

Does HSE help teams from the League in this self-organization?

No, they usually take care of themselves entirely. The hall, by the way, used to be in Building B on Pokrovsky Boulevard. But, when the building on Pokrovka was repaired, unfortunately, they did not provide a basketball hall. Therefore, now we train on the Armyanskiy pereulok.

What about coaches? Who are they? How long have they been with you?

We have two coaches: Ivan Evgenievich and Ekaterina Feliksovna. They came to HSE back in 20006-2007, and still remain with us! Despite the fact that as the League grows, so does the volume of their work. These are ideal examples of amateur team coaches: soft, kind, always understand and support in everything. And they demand from the guys exactly as much as they can give.

Ivan Evgenievich did not play professionally. Although as an amateur - probably a lot! But Ekaterina Feliksovna played in the Dynamo youth team. In the late 90s, she even went to Paris as part of the Russian youth national team, and she has a photo with Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady!

How people can get into the League team?

Find the guys from the team and contact them. We even have a special page for this.

And in the university team?

Through viewing in September. We announce the start of the selection on our official pages on social networks and on the website. Those who want go to workouts with us for several days, and during the workouts the coach selects the best. We are approving the team by the beginning of October, when the official games begin. But sometimes we accept someone during the season.

Is there a practice of transferring players from the League teams to the university team or vice versa?

Yes, it happens both ways. Sometimes guys start with a League team, train, progress and get into the university team. I got into it myself only in the 4th bachelor year. And sometimes guys initially want to play only for the university team. But then they see the cool atmosphere of the League and gradually get involved in it.

What is important for you when selecting newcomers?

Of course, game talents and skills are important. But personal qualities value much more. Because you will meet this person in the hall a couple of times a week, but the rest of the time you will communicate with him in other ways. And during the process of communication, you understand what kind of teammate he will be.

Do you have any experience working with foreigners? If yes, please tell us more about it.

Yes, we have some experience working with foreigners. When I came here, there were either playing in the League or just training at least 10 people. We are open and happy to absolutely everyone. The only difficulty that sometimes arises is the language. Our coaches do not speak English perfectly, so sometimes guys have to explain something additionally. But there has never been such a thing that someone did not understand anything at all. In any case, all barriers disappear during the game! The language of the game is universal!

Football players have a lot of experience: they had a whole team consisting only of foreigners. We would like to have one too, but now there are simply not enough people for that. Although we are taking steps towards it! On January 21, we held the First International 3x3 Basketball Tournament! HSE has a Chamber of Nationalities, which unites student national clubs within the university. Twelve of them made up their national teams, which fought for the Cup all day. The victory was won by the Taulu-Adyghe club team. It turned out to be a kind of Championship of Nations in miniature! More details about it you can find here.

Do you need anyone besides the players in the Organizing Committee? And how is it possible to get into it?

Yes, in the Organizing Committee we are also always glad to meet new people! We even give credits for this – you can get to us through the Project Fair. Now about 60 people work in the Organizing Committee. These are mostly guys from junior courses. And this is very cool, because they get real work experience from us, which helps them understand who they want to be in the future and in what profession to develop. They won't learn that at the desk! They are engaged in serious responsible functions, and with such a background, of course, it is easier for them to start building a career.

What are your plans for the future?

Huge! Most of all, of course, we dream that HSE will have its own sports complex. But from a more practical point of view – the development of basketball in our regional branches: St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod and Perm. And, of course, we strive to hold even more cool events, projects and infect everyone around with basketball!

Combining games, training, study, sleep, and sometimes work is probably not easy. Where can one get so much strength and energy for everything?

For me, it's always a matter of priorities. Everyone decides for himself how much time to devote to what. Sometimes priorities change, and this is absolutely normal. And, of course, there is no point in continuing to do what is beginning to cause damage. But it seems to me that if you are really in love with basketball, there will always be time! Let it be a little, let it be only once a week. But everyone can afford some time for that!

Dima, thank you very much for such an interesting conversation.

We invite everyone who also wants to become a part of the HSE basketball community to open workouts! They take place on Wednesdays from 19 to 21 hours at the Armyanskiy pereulok, 4/2 (metro station "Kitay-Gorod" or "Lubyanka"). More detailed information can be found here.

You can find out more about the Leagues on their official pages on social networks:

Interview by

Margarita Mayorova