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Men’s Soccer Star Speaks Out About His Motherland Ukraine

By Vladislav Stepanov

Editor’s Note: When the war in Ukraine first broke out in February, we asked Vladislav Stepanov to comment on the war and his concerns about his country and family. He was quoted in our March 7 issue. Now that it has been over two months since Russia invaded Ukraine, we wanted to know how he and his family are doing. Here Stepanov generously shares his experiences with the Adelphi community. Read through to find out how you can help.

I’m a junior sports management major on the Adelphi men's soccer team. I am from Kyiv, Ukraine, where my family currently lives. Fortunately, my family is doing fine! They are still outside the country. However, their friends and my friends are predominantly still in Ukraine. It is a very hard situation and even though it has been two months of war, I still cannot wrap my head around it. It just doesn’t fit right. There are times when I call my friends and I can hear the siren of an air raid alert. Seeing my friends having to sleep in subway stations (as it is safer there in case of bombings) from time to time, is honestly heartbreaking and disturbing. However, the worst is hearing that an old teammate of mine was killed, and by now I have a few friends that I will never see again.

Vladislav Stepanov, junior sports management major from Ukraine, expresses his concerns. He is here on Adelphi’s men’s soccer team. Photo via IG @vlad_stepanov25

Personally, I am holding up to the best ability I can. It became extremely hard to focus well, and to be completely honest with you, it looks like my GPA will not be as high as last semester. I live in a constant feeling of guilt, that I am not there helping with my friends, and that I am not providing enough support from here. I also do want to thank my teammates and my loved ones here for all of the support they have given me.

Unfortunately, I do not have a home for now. My house is still there, but I consider a home a safe place to be, and right now it most certainly isn’t. It saddens me every day that I won’t be able to see my home, my friends, visit our favorite parks and restaurants, or play soccer with my old teammates. Home isn’t just a house or an apartment, it’s a place where you made the best memories, and where you continue to make them. It is where you feel welcomed. And that was stripped away from me at least for now. I do not have a definitive answer for where I will stay during this summer. I simply do not know, but for sure I will be staying in New York. If me and a few of my teammates are lucky, we will move off campus starting this summer. I do not have any family or relatives in the US. However, I do have my teammates and my girlfriend here.

Vladislav with younger brother Yan (middle) and mom Iryna (right). Photo via IG @vlad_stepanov25

Yet, with my whole heart I hope that we will win this war and rebuild our country to its previous glory, where everyone will feel safe again. But I know for sure that we will never forget what happened and what we had to go through.

In terms of the help from Adelphi, it would be great if the university used their social media more actively to spread the word about what is happening and encourage people to donate. It is key for people to understand that by being a bystander, they basically support what is happening. They support the death of my friends, of innocent people.

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