Women’s Maple League starts today! Interview with St. Petersburg Valkyries’ head coach Ilya Kravtsov
Valkyries are finally ready to make that final step to win the League.
Your team, St. Petersburg Valkyries, starts season at Sunday against Tampere Saints – what kind of atmosphere is inside the team?
– After loosing to the eventual champs by just one point last season, we have proven to ourselves that we belong to the very best teams in the League and can battle for the title. A strong showing in the Diamond Bowl in April has only enforced that feeling and we’re as exhited as we ever were for the season to start.
This is Valkyries fourth season in Maple League – what are team goals this season?
– We took bronze two years in a row. But if in 2016 we felt like that was a great result that we were happy with, in 2017 the same result felt a little dissapointing. So the only goal we can have for the season now is to win it all.
What particular issues have been taken into account during the winter season?
– We have retooled our offensive blocking scheme as well as coverage shell to better reflect the type of football our opponents are playing on both sides of the ball. As a coaching staff, we’re still fairly new to Maple League and the adjustment process keeps going every year.
How do you think that last seasons disappointing result at semifinal is going to effect to Valkyries? Could it be a resource or maybe a motivator through out the season?
– Of course losing by one point is never a way that you want to end your season, but that game has more than anything showed us what we’re capable of. And you will never achieve a great result unless you truly believe you can, so in the long run, I think it was a positive experience that we can build on.
Again, Valkyries has a lot of traveling during the season (playing every game either in Helsinki or Tampere) - how this is taken into account in your team?
– It’s our forth season in the Maple League so we’re obviously used to that at this point. Actually, this year’s travelling (without having to travel to Oulu and Seinäjoki) is much easier for us than in the years prior.
Your last seasons quarterback, Lyobov Kudinova, ended her career and won’t be seen in the team. How will that change the system? Will Elena Proskurikova fulfill Kudinovas shoes?
– While we truly believe with selecting a scheme towards players strengths (as opposed to the other way around), we were really lucky to have a great replacement for her in Elena. She’s more than capable of running the same spread-option scheme that we were used to before, and we’re confident that the transition (and improvement!) of our offensive game will go very smoothly.
Name one Valkyries player who is going to overtake the titles this season? Why?
– Although Daria Briukhovetskaya was the League’s rushing leader already in 2017, I think that this year with an improved blocking scheme and personnel she will dominate to an even larger degree and keep amazing people.
Why Valkyries is the team lifting the trophy in August at Vantaa?
– Because we’ve been dancing around it long enough and are finally ready to make that final step. This team is as determined and focused on the task at hand as it has ever been.
Analyze other teams (Wolverines, Roosters and Saints) briefly.
– It will be very interesting how the reigning champs in the Wolverines will adjust to the new season with all of their personnel changes and what kind of football will we see from them.
– As for the Roosters, we all know of the problems they had in the offseason, but with as strong an organizational foundation as they have, I’m sure that they will be one of the favourites for the title as they are every year.
– And Tampere is going to be such a great feel-good story for everyone to follow regardless of their result when it’s all said and done. The amazing turnaround that this program has done under coach Honkonen is truly remarkable, and I think they will be a force to reckon with for years to come.
Women's Maple League, Gameweek 1:
Sunday 10.06.2018 | 16:00 | Pyynikki, Tampere:
Tampere Saints – St. Petersburg Valkyries
Monday 11.06.2018 | 18:30 | Brahen kenttä, Helsinki:
Helsinki Wolverines – Helsinki Roosters