We were talking with John Murray, the goalie of hockey team GKS Katowice, who has been a proud citizen of Poland for five years.
Have you ever experienced such an impressive winning streak in your career as you have this season with GKS Katowice?
I remember in my first season with the GKS Tychy, we had a similar situation, where we only lost one match in regular playtime, and besides that, we had a few losses in shootouts or overtimes. It’s the second such case in my career where my team has had such a winning streak, but this season, every game is truly a close contest. There are no teams in the league where you think you’ll definitely take all the points, so we’re even more delighted with this streak.
How does the fact that no one has beaten us in the regular phase of the league so far affect our team’s mentality?
Certainly, the fact that we defended the Polish championship and confirmed our supremacy in the country works in our favor. Now every team facing GKS knows they’re up for a demanding match, and we, in turn, know our worth and don’t have to question whether we have a chance to win because we’ve proven multiple times in the last two years that we do.
Do you think our experience in the Champions Hockey League will help us perform well in the Continental Cup?
Absolutely, that experience will be even more useful since you improve the most by playing against teams better than you, and in the last edition of the Champions Hockey League, we faced teams with varying levels above and below ours. In the Continental Cup, we have the chance to play against opponents who should be within our reach, so we know what style of play to expect and in what direction to prepare for matches in Italy. On the other hand, this brings pressure to win, and we need to be prepared for what our opponents have in store for us and quickly identify their strengths and weaknesses.
Poland has become a second home for you; you have family, friends here, and you’re a multiple-time representative of Poland. Did you expect your life to unfold this way?
When I arrived in the Polish league ten years ago, I expected it to be a one-year stay… life decided differently, and it’s certainly the most interesting and beautiful adventure. The turning point was when I returned to the Tychy club after playing in Kazakhstan; that’s when I realized I really feel good in Poland and can find myself here. Now I have the opportunity to live in the largest city of a big metropolis where I have everything I need for life, and it usually takes 15-20 minutes by car to get where I need to, which is a significant convenience for someone from North America. I like how many places you can discover not only in Katowice but throughout Poland, how diverse, surprising, and satisfying it is to live here.
What do you like most about Poland and Katowice?
I grew up on the East Coast of the USA where there’s a lot of hustle in every aspect of life; everything needs to be scheduled to the minute. I think Poles don’t realize that for an American, having a quiet half-hour walk, without a long drive beforehand just to find a park, is really something exceptional! Additionally, another fantastic thing for someone from overseas is fresh food, good meat, and easily accessible high-quality baked goods. Unlike in the States, where you’re confined to a few supermarkets and their offerings, here you can confidently go to a smaller store and pick what you need.
In Katowice, I particularly value the history of the city, which is sometimes prominently displayed with pride and sometimes requires careful observation. I enjoy discovering this city, and when I see how much support the fans give us, that GKS Katowice is an important part of the city, I know it’s a place worth attention. I think Katowice, and generally the whole of Poland, is a very welcoming place for sports fans from Europe and America who want to experience the high emotions associated with sports events and competition. I feel that after the fall of communism, the emotional charge hidden within the Polish people finally had a chance to show itself, and this is reflected in the support for athletes in the stands. In the Western countries, they don’t fully realize how developed the sports culture is in Poland. That’s why I invite all foreign fans here; you’ll have a great time!