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Chelsea Jeanette Kubek

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We bring you another interview from the “Women in the CJHL” series. Today, a young woman from Michalovce tells us about her work in ice hockey...

As an introduction ... Tell us something about yourself.

Hi, my name is Chelsea Jeanette Kubek, and I’m a recent graduate of the Faculty of Political Science and International Relations in Banská Bystrica, and I devote a lot of my time to activities related to ice hockey.

Have you ever been involved or are you actively involved in any sports?

I devoted myself to ballroom dancing for about 5 years. Later I played on a women’s floorball team as a defender and I was also the team captain. In my free time I exercise and go skating.

You began in hockey as an announcer at youth tournaments. What or who brought you to hockey?

My brother and parents steered me to hockey. Since my younger brother played hockey, my parents often took me to his games. Once at a MULTI ŠPORT CUP international tournament, where my brother was playing, the organizers wanted the games to be announced in English along with Slovak. The proposal fell on me because most people associated my name with perfect command of English. So I tried it and I liked it. Thanks to that opportunity, I had the chance to try announcing for youth games at the beginning of the season and then later for senior games. Gradually, announcing became my hobby, and it’s been my favorite free-time activity for about 8 years now.

You gradually worked your way up from youth games to senior games. Are they more demanding?

Announcing for the games isn’t really much different. During the youth and junior games the stands aren’t full, but it sometimes happens that several dozen goals get scored, while during the senior games the announcing must be flawless, since the stadium is full of spectators. There are formulas for announcing that don’t have to be done for junior games, but for senior games, it is specified that certain formal things are announced even before the game and during breaks between the periods.

Do you have any players whose goals you announce with greater pleasure?

I don’t have any favorites among the players. On the contrary, I’m always glad when the home teams wins and in the case of national team games when Slovakia is the winning team. This is also because if the home team is winning, there is a chance to cooperate with the crowd and in such cases the game has a greater charm for me personally.

Is there a game that has really stuck in your memory over the years?

I don't have a specific one, but I have to say that each game is unique in some way, because you can never anticipate what will happen. But I have to admit that a great game, full of euphoria, happiness and joy, was when Dukla Michalovce became the winner of the first league and advanced to the playoffs.

Can you also think of one you would rather forget?

Two moments in games immediately come to mind. In one home game, a player in a fit of anger tried to get to the official in the stand and did it by jumping right on the timekeeper’s roof. The second was in a game in Prešov, where Prešov and Michalovce were playing, when suddenly a flare flew above me, a young hockey fan at that time. People had to be evacuated from the stadium and, on top of that a guy alongside me was wielding with an iron wire. Unfortunately, I can’t forget about that.

Would you say that you know the rules of ice hockey well?

I can say that I gradually learned most of what I need to know about the rules in my functional capacity. After each season, we hold a seminar where off the ice officials must pass a written test, and the questions mainly relate to the rules of ice hockey. I personally think that it would be impossible to do a job of this type without knowing the basic rules of hockey.

Have you ever opposed a referee’s decision?

It’s happened to me a few times that I shook my head in disapproval of the referee’s decision. But I agree with the rule that the referee’s decision always applies, even if we don’t agree with it every time.

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Over time, you’ve also moved from the club level to the national team. In 2019 you took part in the Vladimír Dzurilla Tournament in Piešťany (the U18 category), and you were also announcing the 20-year-old Summer Hockey Challenge tournament in Poprad, or during the preparatory games of the national team before the World Championships. Do you still remember what feelings you had when the federation first addressed you?

This was a really amazing feeling. The moment when they call you to announce a tournament at the national level can’t be forgotten. After the first such call, I was really in shock and couldn’t believe that asked me, a girl from the East :D.

You didn’t just stay in the timekeeping box in your work. Federation officials began to use your skills at various other occasions. You had the opportunity to accompany the Swedish under-18 national team at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Piešťany. What was your job then? What were you in charge of doing?

My job was to help with the various demands of the Swedish under-18 team during the whole tournament week. In most cases, all the requests came to the manager of the Sweden team and from him to me. We always went through the team’s whole-day schedule a day in advance, as well as changes in the schedule, bus arrivals and departures. These were more organizational tasks related to the team. It happened that they needed something from a pharmacy or shop, so I kept the manager company, communicated with him, helped him and advised him. On the next to last day of the tournament, the manager even invited the entire implementation team to dinner as part of the free-time program, and I helped him with restaurant reservations and course selections. They even invited me to the dinner, which was really a very nice gesture. For the first time I had the chance to try out the role of “team host” and I have to say that one week with the Swedish under-18 team gave me a lot, whether it was improving my communication in English, making new friends, learning about the culture of a Scandinavian country or a glimpse into the professional functioning of the team during the tournament.

Did the young Swedes also have any peculiar requirements? How did they behave?

I have to say right at the start that the players were disciplined. They formed one team for the entire week; they had lunch and dinner together, left the dining room together; they really did all the common activities like one team, and this looked the same way on ice. Among the special requirements were oatmeal for breakfast and always a combination of meat, side dishes, pasta and vegetables for dinner. I also have to say that the approach of the hotel where we stayed was top notch, and immediately on the second morning, among other things, there was oatmeal marked “Team Sweden” on the table. As for the requirements at the stadium, upon arrival they requested 3 locker rooms, one for the implementation team and 2 for the players. One cabin served for changing out of civilian clothes and in the other they had all the players’ equipment and used it during games. They also asked for stationary bicycles and a weight-room available near the locker room. I was initially afraid to take care of the Swedish players because I consider this to be a cultured, developed and intelligent country. And that’s exactly how they behaved. But they had a sense of humor, too, in situations when it was appropriate.

Organizationally, you also helped prepare for the Slovak U15 Championship or the Women’s Six Nations Tournament. Both took place in Michalovce. But the highlight was certainly the 2019 World Championships. There you worked as the coordinator of volunteers. How did you get into this position?

Those tournaments again took me one step further since I had the opportunity to be a member of the organizing committees. In regard to the World Ice Hockey Championships, I was lucky to be approached by the head of the MS2019 organizing committee in Košice. At first, this function wasn’t very well known to me, but this tempted me to go for it even more. This was a great opportunity for me to represent myself as well as our Slovakia in the field of ice hockey.

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What did your common day look like during the championships?

During the World Championships, my day started with a hearty breakfast and a meeting of the Organizing Committee. Then it was necessary to arrange proposals and requests from the meeting and coordinate volunteers in the relevant sections. We met the volunteers at the volunteer center and assigned tasks. During the games, I typically checked whether everything relating to the volunteers was working as it should. Maybe this sound too simple, but every day brought something new, unexpected, so it was always necessary to arrange and resolve something. Among the things I learned at the World Championships is that no problem is so big that it cannot be solved.

Did you personally meet any hockey stars in Košice?

Since I was the coordinator of the volunteers, one of the basic rules of the 2019 World Championships was to observe the Code of Conduct for Volunteering. A part of the code was not to bother the players and take pictures with them. The activities of volunteers were even set up so that it wasn’t necessary to walk through the areas near the team cabins when doing work. Since I was the coordinator, I had such a privilege, of course, but for me, the functionality of the code meant that if I wanted my volunteers to adhere to it, then I had to follow it, too. Personally, I had the opportunity to meet a hockey star twice after the World Championships. The first was in August at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup tournament, where I met the great Zdeno Chára, and in December in Žilina at a preparatory game of the under-20 Slovak national team with Russia, I met Russian legend Igor Larionov.

How did the people at IIHF impress you?

I viewed the IIHF representatives professionally. The morning meetings of the organizing committee were often attended by Mr. Hannes Ederer (Deputy general secretary/Event director). For me personally, however, meeting Mr.Georges Lüchinger was inspirational. He is, among other things, the announcer of the Spengler Cup, the oldest tournament in the world history of ice hockey, and I got some really valuable advice on announcing from him.

Do you have any special experiences from the world championships that you’d like to recall?

The whole Championships were one great experience for me. But the greatest experience was when they told me that I would be the substitute announcer. The most beautiful moment was that I did the announcing for a game right on my mother's birthday. Exactly on 12 May I announced in the Slovak language my first IIHF game between Denmark and Germany (1:2), and 5 days later I had the opportunity to announce a game between Canada and Germany (8:1), and thirdly, it was really amazing to announce game between Canada and my native country, the USA (3:0).

Let’s return to the club level. At the end of 2018, you became an assistant manager of HK Mládež Michalovce. What jobs did you handle in this position?

I focused especially on administrative activities; I took part in meetings and training sessions; I looked for accommodation and arranged meals during trips, when the oldest age category played games outdoors. Among the more interesting activities was implementing projects for the club in the form of Hockey English, preparation and organization of recruitment events, such as, for example, Children for Hockey, school skating programs or helping with the organizing of tournaments for the younger categories. I have to say that this job covered a really wide scale of activities and it was very interesting for me for this reason.

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After not quite two seasons, however, you are moving on again, this time to the capital. Specifically, to the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation (SZĽH), where you’ll work in the registry office. How did this come about? Will you continue to focus on your announcing work, or is this chapter now closed?

Working at the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation was a hockey dream for me in my personal advancement in hockey. Due to unexpected circumstances that no one could have foreseen, the position at the SZĽH registry was vacated and so I had the chance to interview for this job. A week after the interview, I learned that they had chosen me and my dream was very quickly coming true. As for announcing, I will certainly not close the door to this chapter just yet. If an opportunity to announce arises alongside my work, I’ll be even happier.

The coronavirus pandemic ended the 2019/2020 season prematurely. How did you spend time when everything was closed and we were forced to stay at home most of the time?

Despite the fact that everything came to a halt and hockey stopped being played day to day, there was plenty of space for me to focus on my studies. This period really came in handy, and I was able to successfully finish university. In addition to exams and writing my thesis, in cooperation with the Hockey-girls brand, which dresses women who like hockey, we produced a series of live broadcasts on Instagram called “Two women talking about ice hockey”. In all we broadcast 10 live streams with 10 exceptional women who are involved in various activities in the field of ice hockey. For me personally, meeting other women from Slovakia and the Czech Republic who love hockey as much as I do this was a great experience.

Finally, what do you like to do in your free time?

I really like to spend my free time with my family, because spending time with loved ones is rare for me. I also like to relax by cooking, baking and mowing. My hobbies include traveling and I like hiking or walking in nature, too.



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