Colin Whitt, the American defenseman of the Kyiv Capitals, recently spoke his experiences living in Ukraine during the war and shared his emotions about his debut in the six-hour match against Kremenchuk.
Colin, your first match in Ukraine turned out to be the longest in the entire championship, with multiple delays due to air alarms. How can you describe such start of your career in Ukraine?
In fact, it was quite exhausting. Initially, my focus was solely on hockey. Despite feeling anxious, we had no choice but to patiently wait for the game to resume. The six-hour delay was unusually long, but we had to adapt to the current circumstances.
Considering the situation in which the match occurred, did it serve as a source of motivation or did it feel overwhelming and burdensome?
Personally, I felt incredibly motivated. I was eager to step onto the ice and make my debut with my new team.
How would you rate the current level of the championship?
I think that the level of the tournament is excellent. Ukraine boasts many highly skilled hockey players who showcase their technical abilities. Personally, I admire the well-established work of the Kyiv Capitals. We have a plethora of compelling matches, which provide opportunities for players to further develop their skills. This season, my main goal is to contribute to the team’s success.I want to win as much matches as possible with Kyiv Capitals.
Tell us about how you came up with the option of playing for a team in Kyiv and how difficult was the decision to play in Ukraine during the war?
At the time, I was recovering from an injury and considering offers to continue my career. My first coach suggested that I explore the opportunity to join a team in Kyiv.
How do you feel about living in Kyiv now?
I’m really enjoying my time here and everything about the city. The organization is top-notch, we have a strong team, and the coaches are highly qualified. Kyiv is a stunning city, and I’m truly glad to live here.
What were your impressions or preconceptions about Ukraine before coming here?
To be honest, I didn’t know much about Ukraine prior to coming here. I had heard that it was a beautiful country, and the same went for its capital. However, it was truly eye-opening and exciting to see for myself and witness the beauty firsthand.
During past two seasons, you played in Germany. How would you assess your experiences there? Additionally, what are the main differences you’ve noticed between American and European hockey leagues?
My time in Germany was a valuable experience for me. It allowed me to grow professionally and adapt to a different style of play. The size of the rink also affects this. As a defender, you get more space and a chance to play more aggressively in defense. Of course, I can credit my performances in Germany and say that it was an interesting experience.
In the 2023/2024 season, you will be only one American legionnaire in the championship of Ukraine. How do you feel yourself in such status?
I feel a great sense of pride and honor. Representing the USA in Ukrainian hockey is a privilege that I do not take lightly. Being a part of a small group of legionnaires, especially among those who defend the colors of the Capitals team, makes it even more special. However, my main focus remains on my own game and how I can contribute to my new team. I aim to bring as much benefit as possible through my skills and dedication.
What can you tell other legionnaires about the opportunity to play in Ukraine?
I would encourage them to seize the opportunity if they are ready for it. Personally, I have developed a genuine fondness for both the championship and the country itself. While it is important to acknowledge the tense current situation in Ukraine, I believe that if individuals have the courage to come here and compete, it is definitely worth giving it a try. The best way to truly understand and assess the experience is by firsthand exploration.