“It seems like I was sitting in the stands watching the game a day ago, and now I play for this team.” The newcomer of Dynamo - about hockey, swimming and painting

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07.10.2021 в 17:00

“It seems like I was sitting in the stands watching the game a day ago, and now I play for this team.” The newcomer of Dynamo - about hockey, swimming and painting

The blue-and-white defenseman attended several sections, but became a hockey player.

Championship winning JHC Dynamo Moscow has become much younger this season. One of the newcomers – 16-year-old Valentin Rodionov – was the only one among hockey players born in 2005 to play for the blue-and-whites in the season opener, when Dynamo shored up the roster. Being a child, the defenseman was swimming and painting alongside with playing hockey and now he loves basketball, mathematics and modern art. Valentin talked about balancing so many activities, and eventually giving pride of place to hockey.

“The more I practice, the more I like it”

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– When and how did you start playing hockey?
– I started my career at the age of three in Voskresensk. Generally speaking, I was signed up for hockey by chance: a friend of mine played hockey, but he wanted somebody to keep him company. His parents offered me to try. That was how it all started, now we both are professional hockey players. By the way, my father was taking a dim view of this up until recently, education was always in the first place for him. But he changed his opinion after I joined Dynamo. He realized that it was a big thing. And my mom always supported all my initiatives, so she was all for it.

– Do you remember your emotions after first practices?
– I really liked practicing, I enjoyed the workloads. And now the more I practice, the more I like it. I have never even considered quitting hockey. Of course, there have been tough situations when I did not get a lot of ice time, but if you have a desire to keep going, you will be equal to all challenges.

– Did you become a defenseman right away?
– I started as a forward, and later the coach put me on defensive position. I was very argumentative and big for my age. There were few defensemen of that kind in my city and in the Moscow region, so the coach decided that I would do better playing defense. I started liking this role after the first couple of games.

– When did you join Dynamo academy?
– First, I got an offer from Yaroslavl. I was 12 years old, I went there for a training camp, stayed and practiced for a week. I liked everything, but my parents said that I needed to go check Dynamo too, as I was also invited there. I liked this team ever since I was little, I enjoyed practicing there more, the guys were so supportive. That was why I chose Dynamo Moscow. I was not worried - it is one of the best clubs in Russia, after all.

“I have been involved in all possible activities since childhood”

– You were swimming and painting alongside with playing hockey. How did it start?
– I started swimming at an early age, I was around four. I don’t remember how it began, I guess some of my friends were swimming and my parents decided to let me try it too. It’s just that I have always been an active child, so I have been involved in all possible activities since childhood. I did well at swimming: my coach was saying that I had a great future. But I realized that I was meant for hockey. As for painting, I graduated from an art school at the age of 12. My elder sister was painting, so I followed in her footsteps.

– Was it hard to do two active sports at the same time?
–It is always easier in emotional terms when your coaches and your family support you. I had an excellent hockey coach, and it seems fair to say that we became real friends with my swimming mentor. They treated me well, so I was happy to attend both sections. I liked to go swimming after skating. I didn’t have much energy, but it was good for my soul, because I knew that I gave my best and did not waste my time. I had such feeling even when I was a child.

– Do you think swimming had an impact on you playing hockey?
– Any physical activity has a positive effect on a child both physically and psychologically. For example, I can cope with any difficulties, sports will always hold pleasure. Swimming helps developing back and arm muscles, chest, and the respiratory system. I think it did have an impact - I can spend more time on the ice and still have energy.

– Do you still go to the swimming pool when you have some free time?
– Yes, I do, but now I'm relaxing there. I recall my coach’s recommendations, but they are just echoes of the past now. I seem to have lost my touch. But I still love swimming, I go to the pool when I have time and opportunity. Of course, it is not always possible during the season, because we play games and practice. If you relax even a little bit, then it’s hard to be at the ready. But in summertime I go swimming several times a week.

– Did you enjoy attending art school too?
– Yes, I did. Even though I did not understand why my teacher praised me. She even submitted my works to exhibitions. But I have never heard of any awards won, the paintings simply disappeared (laughs).

– How did it impact on you?
– I like the world of art. Even though I'm not very diligent and patient. But if I get interested in something, I go deep into studying the topic. As a child, I loved painting, and now I sometimes go to exhibitions and museums. Not often, of course, but it happens.

– Do you still paint at your leisure?
– Sometimes I am in the mood for it, but not often. For example, last year we had practices in the evening and attended school during the day. Coming back home all I wanted to do was just eat and go to bed. But when I paint, I usually create landscape and still life paintings. I have always liked to picture nature in summertime.

– Do you have favorite any painters or styles?
– I will not give any specific names, but I really like contemporary art. Artists try to convey their emotions in an unusual manner and viewing their paintings is very interesting.

“A modern player should think about his media face”

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– How did you manage to balance all three activities?
– When I lived in Voskresensk, I had hockey practices around lunchtime. So, I went to school for three or four lessons, then went to practice, and then to the swimming pool. Next day I had hockey and art school. That was what my days looked like. I attended all three sections on one of the weekend days, but even on those days my parents did not know what to do with me - I couldn’t sit still. My father called me an “atom”, he said that I was constantly moving. I don't know where I was getting so much energy from. Maybe I had too much food, I was a little chubby as a child (laughs).

– Did you have enough time to do your homework?
– Yes, I did. Surprisingly, I was an A student until the seventh grade. I am a tenth-grader now, I have some grades B. I am performing well academically, my favorite subject is math. I think if it was not for hockey, I would develop in this direction. But hockey is number one for me, so I have not yet decided which university I will go to.

– Do you have time to go to school now?
– I am a home-schooled student now. Being at home allows me to focus on what will really be needed in the future. So, I think this format is the best option for me.

– Do you have any new hobbies?
– My teammate Mario Patalakha and I are fond of modern rap, hip-hop and basketball. When we have time, we play friendly games or watch NBA games. There are many professional athletes there to look up to – the way they perform, prepare, present themselves. I think NBA is very well-developed.

 Is it different in hockey?
– Things are different there, for example, interaction with media. It is pretty new for Russia. I believe that media is an integral part of hockey all over the world. It is important for a modern player to show him or herself to good advantage.

“Playing for the championship winning team is a great experience”

– Why did you give pride of place to hockey? What was so special about it?
– When I am on the ice, I can unleash negative emotions and they will be put to good use. It helps to avoid ugly situations in everyday life. I like the emotions that I get on the ice, even after a loss. There is a benefit from them, too. When I quit swimming and painting, I realized that hockey was a job that I would like to pursue.

– You have joined JHC Dynamo Moscow that won the championship. What are your feelings?
– Last season, I didn’t even think that I would play for Dynamo. My teammates and I went to see final games against Loko - it seemed something unattainable. That’s why I have inexpressible emotions. It seems like I was sitting in the stands watching the game a day ago, and now I play for this team. Everyone is very kind and friendly, it helped me to blend into the team. I already got adjusted and the guys are like a family for me.

– How can you evaluate the start of the season for you personally and for the team in general?
– I think we could have done better, but in general everything is going well. I am grateful to the coach for letting me play the first games, being on the ice during the season opener is a great experience. It’s funny that I was not worried at the beginning of the game, but it changed after the first period. It was not helping, so I tried to focus only on the positive to get rid of bad thoughts.

– What are your goals for the season?
– The most important thing is to help my team win and defend the title. And, of course, I want to go to the 4 Nations Tournament, make it to the Russian national team - to help our country win gold medals.

Ksenia Goryunova

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