Hockey doesn’t have to end after high school or college. There are many opportunities to play high-level hockey outside of your home country in places such as Australia, Finland, Hong Kong, Russia, Switzerland, and Turkey (just to name a few). There are two main reasons why many players who have/are playing abroad think others should consider travelling to another country to play as well: the chance to continue to play high-level hockey after college, and the chance to travel the world and experience other cultures.
Kayla Campero and Sarah MacDonnell, who both played for the University of Connecticut, are currently playing for the Planegg Penguins of the Deutscher Eishockey Bundesliga, which is the top women’s league in Germany. With few opportunities in North America for women to play high-level hockey after college – besides the CWHL and the NWHL – playing in Planegg, a suburb of Munich, has been a great opportunity for them to continue playing hockey.
“Coming to Germany allowed me to have one more competitive season before I ended my hockey career, went home, and started working or went back to school,” said Campero.
“As female hockey players the options are limited when it comes to playing at a competitive level post-collegiately,” said MacDonnell. “Playing overseas offers an excellent opportunity for players to continue to play at a high-level, while having a once in a lifetime experience of living and travelling throughout Europe.”
Emily Snodgrass also played for the University of Connecticut, and is now playing for the Bolzano Eagles in Italy, who compete in the EWHL and the Italian Championship. For Snodgrass, one of her favourite things about her experience has been immersing herself in Italian culture.
“I believe that a two week vacation in Europe doesn’t allow you to experience the culture in the same way that living here for a season does. Navigating through Italian daily life has been an incredible learning experience,” said Snodgrass. “The culture, the travel, and the friends and teammates I’ve spent my time with here have been my favourite part of this experience (and the food!). Hockey has been the cherry on top!”
Chelsa Budd played for five years with the University of Regina before playing in the Czech Republic for two years with HC Slavia Praha of the Czech women’s league. Budd says that her time in Prague, which involved winning two national titles with HC Slavia Praha, was a very worthwhile and unforgettable experience.
“It’s a great way to see another country, not just as a tourist, but as a local. You get a feel for the country in greater depth … It’s also a great way to keep playing hockey,” said Budd about playing abroad. “I’m really grateful to have had the experience! You will also grow a ton through figuring out how to do life in a foreign country. While it can be hard at times, it’s a unique and very valuable experience!”
Like Snodgrass, Budd loved being able to immerse herself in a foreign culture while also being able to keep playing hockey.
“I loved learning the Czech language and being able to chat and joke with my teammates. The Czech Republic is a beautiful country, full of rich history, amazing architecture, wonderful food, and kind people,” said Budd.
“I fell in love with it while I was living there!”