The head coach of Russian deaf hockey team has talked about the nuances of deaf sport and his work with deaf athletes.
It is worth noting that Andrey Vasilevskiy is a head of a dynasty of great ice-hockey players. This older son Alexey plays for “Salavat Yulaev” hockey club and the younger one Andrey plays for NHL club “Tampa Bay Lightning”.
– Do you discuss with your sons the results of your team? Are they watching these Deaflympics?
– Yes, my sons are interested in games we are playing and they visit the official web-page of the Deaflympics more often than I. Last time I saw Andrey in July. This January I wanted to visit him in the USA but cancelled my trip because of the training sessions for the Deaflympics. We had 2 weeks training sessions in October, December, February and March. In May I will start training goalkeepers, so I don’t think we will meet very soon with my younger son.
– How often are you having training sessions?
– Deaflympics are the most important competitions in 4 years period. That’s why we are training very hard before these Games. Besides, every year we are having the national deaf hockey championships. Usually 4 to 6 teams are participating in them. During these championships we consult with other coaches and find players for the national Deaflympic team.
– Before becoming a coach were you also playing for the Deaflympic team of Russia?
– When I finished playing hockey I was contacted by the coach of the deaf hockey team of Russia asking me to participate in the Deaflympics in Sweden. There we won silver medals, while Canadians got gold. I was also a goalkeeper of Russian team on Deaflympics 2007. And then I realized that we need to play on the higher level. I thought that my knowledge could help to do this. In 2010 I became a coach and now I’ve been working with deaf athletes for 5 years. I am doing this on a voluntary basis. Coaches are not paid for this. I am also working as a coach for goalkeepers in “Salavat Yulaev”. It was difficult to combine these two works but now everybody understands that deaf community means a lot to me. I’ve grown up in a deaf family and my parents gave me everything I needed to live a normal life. Now it’s my turn to help deaf people.
– You are a goalkeeper and you were also training goalkeepers. Did you have any difficulties with finding and approving players for other positions in the team?
– Ice hockey is a team sport. Athletes are supporting each other. So one way or another I had knowledge about a role of every player in hockey team. I am not ashamed to confess that I don’t know all the peculiarities like, for example, man-down situation. But I am asking the players or my colleagues- coaches in Ufa and my assistants. Wearemakingthetrainingplanstogether. This is a team work!
– What are the peculiarities of working with deaf athletes?
– As I grew up in a deaf family and I am living among deaf people, I got used to it. There’s no difference for me if I am working with deaf athletes or with athletes that have normal hearing. Theonlypeculiarityisincommunication. If they make a break in training sometimes it takes them 1 or 2 seconds to be oriented in space. In ice-hockey these seconds are very important. The loss of hearing is compensated by their vision. That’swhyrefereesareusinglightsignals.
– What do you tell your athletes before a game?
– I know sign language very well. I started talking when I was five, before this I was not speaking only communicating with a sign language. If there are some new words or phrases or foreign words I am using fingerspelling. To make the team feel motivated I am often using historical facts and stories from my biography. Before our next day I want to remind the athletes that this year we a celebrating the anniversary of the end of WWII. I am sure this will give them emotional charge!
– When you got to know that Deaflympics 2015 would be held in Russia did you feel more motivated?
– I was in Khanty-Mansiysk before. My friend asked me to play here in the match dedicated to the opening of the Ice Palace. I was absolutely sure that Khanty-Mansiysk will be able to host the Games. You have all sport venues required for this. This is very important for us to have these Deaflympics in Russia! Before the Deaflympics our team was fully equipped. Previouslywehadtobuyeverythingbyourselves or tohiretheequipment. And now I can definitely state that we have the best equipment here. AllmywishesbeforetheGameswere 100% fulfilled.
– Thank you for your interview!