The Utah State student section displays blue and yellow placards to symbolize the Ukrainian flag for USU basketball player Max Shulga. Photo by Ajay Salvesen
LOGAN – Utah State basketball player Max Shulga left his native Ukraine at 13, but returns at least once a year.
With war raging, and his family at risk, he is frustrated he can’t be there now.
“Mixed emotions. When I’m calling my parents I’m happy to see them, but at the same time I know there’s other people, and relatives of people just dying out there, fighting for our country,” Shulga said on Wednesday in a video interview provided by Utah State Athletics. “I’m obviously happy to see my family healthy and safe but at the same time I’m mad that all that is going on and I can’t do nothing because I’m all the way here.”
During a recent home game against Colorado State he was moved by a show of support before the game when USU students held up blue and yellow placards representing the Ukrainian flag.
“One of the guys from the student section told me that they had a surprise for me in the game, so I kind of expected it but not to that extent,” said Shulga. “The whole section lit up in the Ukrainian flag, blue and yellow. That was really good; I enjoyed that moment and I appreciate all the support.”
He said he feels the spirit of the Ukrainian people will be the difference in this fight.
“I just want to say that we’re going to win, for sure. We need to stand in these tough days; and I hope and know that it will go smoother.”
He describes his countrymen as very tough, patriotic people who will stand their ground. He said he is proud of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the armed forces and the people of his country.
“We are a very tough people, very patriotic. We will stand our ground.”
— USU Men’s Hoops (@USUBasketball) March 1, 2022
This is Shulga’s second year with the Aggie basketball program.
His parents Boris Shulga and Olga Sosnovska live in Kyiv.