The single biggest thing I found transitioning from Bryn Athyn College (ACHA) to minor pro hockey in Sweden was one of the most obvious, the language barrier. It took a bit of work and time to start to understand the language but interact in small portions with teammates and people in general.
Aside from that, it’s a bit more of living on your own and for guys who moved away for hockey, it’s like living with a billet family to an extent. You may live with a few roommates but at this point, most players are adults and have lived on their own for awhile, have lives going on back home with relationships, family and possibly another career. Most of the guys you will play with have part-time or full-time careers and lives away from hockey. They may have grown up in that community and never really left it so for them there are greater resources at play. In college, you are surrounded by your teammates for meals, practices and sometimes even classes. During your time in this environment the school, faculty and students feel like family. A set schedule is laid out for you by the institution and the athletic department which gives you plenty of structure and time filled by these obligations.
Minor pro is far from the structured environment of a post-secondary institute. Players come and go as they please to and from the rink, the commitment level can vary according to the player and the strong team feeling is not always felt on poorly run clubs. The days are usually wide open with no structure unless you have a job of some sort. In this case, it\s up to you to create a routine that works best for your performance. Personally, this season I focused more on working part-time and having some flexibility within that job and for the most part I have found it. I try to allow myself creative endeavors, not hockey related fully and keep up with my mental and physical training away from practices and games. The people you interact with most will be the ones you live with and teammates who have an interest in interacting with the imports.
Whereas school is designed, depending on your plan, to feed and house you this is not the same for minor pro. You will have to do things you might not have done before such as go grocery shopping and prepare meals yourself. For this, I highly recommend Mealime an app I use to get creative for food and allows me to look at exactly what I need to create each meal. Just a tip if you do not feel comfortable cooking or buying groceries, it will help lessen the burden for you.
Stay focused, keep your routine and allow yourself enough time to rest too. Make sure you have a strong support system locally and at home to help you through the rough patches and do yourself a favor, learn enough of the language to get by and ask people for help it will save you a lot of headaches traveling and in practices.
Good luck to all of you! If you have any questions or comments regarding the transition from college to minor pro in Europe feel free to connect with me on Twitter or Instagram @altsy01. If you have found this article useful share it with others to help them in their transition.
It becomes whatever you make it.