My name is Allie, 24 years old, an American from Canton, Michigan and I recently moved to Austria to be the goaltender for the Salzburg Eagles in the EWHL.
The EWHL, also known as the Elite Women’s Hockey League, was created in 2004 and consists of eight teams from countries in Central Europe.
After graduating from Lake Forest College in May 2016, I couldn’t fathom my hockey career ending as well. I started reaching out to teams overseas before senior year started, but it’s hard to find a team looking for a goaltender import. Women’s Hockey Life connected me with the Salzburg Eagles, but unfortunately they had just filled their goaltender spot for the 2016-17 season. I spoke with the imports from previous years and they had nothing but great things to say about the organization, so I stayed connected with the coach while accepting a full time job back home in Michigan. When the Salzburg Eagles season ended this past March, the coach contacted me saying they were in need of a goaltender for the upcoming 2017-18 season. I decided to quit my full time job and accept the goaltender spot!
I arrived in Salzburg on August 22nd, where I met with the team manager at the apartment. There are three other imports I live with, two Americans and one Canadian. One of them is my long-time best friend from back home, which has helped make the transition to the new team and country easy. The two-bedroom apartment felt like home right away and was bigger than my original expectation. It’s only a five-minute bike ride to the ice rink and a couple more minutes to get to old town Salzburg.
We started the season off with training camp where we had on-ice and off-ice testing, along with two-a-day practices. The training camp was held at a rink in Berchtesgaden, Germany, about 20 minutes from Salzburg. The imports and I were in awe of the views that surrounded the rink. It was picturesque with a blue river running along the road and massive snow covered mountains lining the background. During training camp, we got to know our new teammates and what was expected of us. The team was so welcoming right from the start!
The team hired a new coach this season from Finland, and her German isn’t very strong. The only language everyone can understand and communicate in is English, so the language barrier hasn’t been as big as I thought it would be. Practices are held in the evening on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and usually last an hour and a half. There is an extra practice in the morning on Tuesdays, but usually only the imports are able to attend since most of the team either lives a couple hours away or has work and school obligations. Since it is early in the season, practices have varied from going over the fundamentals to spending time putting together lines and working on plays, but overall the quality of play and pace of practice has been surprisingly good.
On our days off, we have been taking day trips to nearby lakes, along with exploring Salzburg. I am already in love with Salzburg, because it is such a beautiful, yet quiet, city to be in. There are mountains everywhere you look and it’s a small enough city to know your way around within a week or two. Oh, another plus…the beer is amazing here! We have an off week coming up and we’ve planned a trip to Croatia with some of the girls from the team and plan on making our way to Munich for Oktoberfest in a few weeks!
The chance to play hockey and travel throughout Europe is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I feel blessed to have a chance to be apart of the Salzburg Eagles Organization. I look forward to sharing more insights about the teams we play and the lifestyle in Austria.
Thanks for reading!
Until next time,