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From Husky to Sabre: Moving overseas to play pro

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Guten tag Women’s Hockey Life readers!  Emily Reid; #74 of the EHV Sabres here.  Where to begin?  1 month ago, I packed up my life into a hockey bag, a suitcase, and a carry-on, and flew across the world to begin my professional hockey career in Vienna, Austria.  To say that a lot has changed since a few short months ago would be an understatement, so I’ll start by filling you in on the background as to how I made it to this amazing city of schnitzel, history and beautiful views. 

My Hockey Journey

I’ve been playing hockey for as long as I can remember, which started shortly after making the big decision to trade in my favourite white, figure skates for a pair of hockey ones like my big brother.  Like most, a lot of my life was spent in an arena playing for the Whitby Wolves, which my family so graciously supported.  I’ve been a diehard Toronto Maple Leafs fan since the beginning, and took pride in cheering on Team Canada in the Olympics every 4 years.  Hockey, and sports in general, consumed my childhood and teenage years in the best way possible. 

Fortunately, this led me to exploring the idea of playing Division 1, and I committed to the University of Connecticut in my junior year of high school.  I feel so blessed to have made that decision years ago, as I couldn’t have asked for a better school to spend my five years.  To clarify, my four years turned into five after tearing my ACL in the spring before year 1, which is an eventful blog and story to tell in itself.  After wrapping up my collegiate career and graduating from UConn with a degree in marketing and a masters in sport management, I moved back home with my family in Whitby, Ontario, left to contemplate my next move after years of structure and next steps. 

Moving Overseas

Travelling has always been on the bucket list, and I’d seen the fun that previous teammates had during their travels overseas for hockey, however, I was soaking in my first summer without an “end date” to return to school and was excited to be interviewing for big girl jobs in my field.  It wasn’t until connecting with someone on Instagram about the possibility of playing here (Austria) that I truly considered the opportunity, that to some, might seem like a no-brainer.  But not for me.   

The fact that I was more nervous than excited, and was wavering a decision that might sound like a dream to most, was difficult for me to grapple with.  The people around me emphasized that “if they could do it, they would!”  Hearing that made it feel silly to admit that I was content with being at home with my friends and family.  I was excited to start a career, and it felt nice to not be on the move for the first time in a while. 

Although, it was my dad who helped me to shift my perspective, expressing that “if amazing experiences like this were easy and came easy, everyone would do them.”  I was entitled to feeling anxious, but I also recognized the importance of stepping outside of my comfort zone and taking risks. Given that this experience was once in a lifetime for the most part, I didn’t want to look back and regret what could’ve been.  Having been here for a month now, I’m proud of myself for taking this risk, and I feel so lucky to be where I am. I’m playing hockey and traveling Europe, surrounded by great teammates  who have become family.  That goes without saying that I still had a couple “what the heck have I gotten myself into” moments in the beginning. For anyone considering a big change like this one, I can assure you that those feelings faded quickly.

Top 5 Things I’ve Learned (So far)

I’m excited to give you all the inside scoop into the life of a professional women’s hockey player in Europe; the highs, the lows, the fun and the realities. For now, here’s a list of five things that I’ve learned since arriving in Vienna:

  1. How to navigate a public transportation system: we use the subway pretty much everywhere…even to get to practices and games! 
  2. The official language is German: I’ve used “Duolingo” to pick up a handful of words, however, a majority of Austrians speak English as well.  Make sure you have google translate ready for grocery store labels, though. 
  3. Everything is closed on Sundays, so don’t forget to do your grocery shopping. 
  4. Austrians love their coffee…we have an essential coffee cart in the dressing room and on our bus. 
  5. Be aware of bike lanes…bikers are ruthless here and walking etiquette is key.

 

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