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Davies excelling overseas
After playing with the Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey team for four years, last year’s assistant captain, Kelley Davies has continued her hockey career in Europe.
In August of 2011, Davies packed up her life and flew to Austria, where she signed with the Neuberg Highlanders of Austria’s EWHL Division II league, where she currently leads her team with is currently leading her team in points with 24.
Davies originally thought her hockey days would be over once she played in her final game as a Bobcat. But, with the job market looking tough, the print journalism major decided to see where hockey could bring her.
“I originally planned to go to Switzerland and play hockey there but I had not fully committed,” Davies said. “Former teammate Elyse Cole told me on Facebook about the team she was playing on in Austria and it seemed like a better deal with more benefits. She got me in contact with the team’s manager and I just sent them my hockey resume. Before I graduated, they told me they were interested and I committed after that.”
Playing in another country isn’t the easiest thing to do, but Davies has adjusted to the change in culture.
“I struggle everyday still with the language barrier,” Davies said. “It’s definitely nice that mostly everyone can speak English here but I would have liked to know German so I could engage in more conversations with people.”
Davies had never left the U.S. before playing in Austria, but she doesn’t seem to be homesick and is really enjoying being in Europe.
“The best part about playing hockey here is the atmosphere and surrounding area,” Davies said. “Austria is such a beautiful country. Being in a different culture and being able to travel to different countries is the best part about being here.”
Davies is planning on returning to the team next season and continuing her professional hockey career. Current seniors Chelsea Illchuk and Kate Wheeler have also committed to the team for next season and will join Davies in Austria.
Wheeler took Davies’ spot as the team’s assistant captain this year. She has recorded 13 points on seven goals and six assists.
“I think it’s such a great experience to live in Europe and getting to know a whole different life style. If she didn’t take the offer, I think she would regret not going since it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Wheeler said. “In my mind, you can work you entire life, why not take a year to travel and experience something different?”
Current head coach Rich Seeley, who coached Davies for three season, enjoys seeing his former player succeeding at the next level.
“I am so proud of Kelley. Kelley is taking this experience and getting everything she possibly can out of it. She is playing exceptionally well, traveling as much as possible and blogging for a local newspaper,” Seeley said. “She took on this experience with an entirely open mind and a good understanding of what it could be. She has done if for all the right reasons.”
Although Davies found playing under coach Seeley tough, in the end it was extremely rewarding.
“Coach taught me a lot of things that I couldn’t only use in hockey but in my life after hockey. I was not as talented as most players in Division I but he knew what I could bring to succeed at that level,” Davies said. “The most important thing he taught me was to not think and just do. I would get tangled up in my head and stop skating. He just told me to skate or ‘fly’ and that seemed to work the best for me as a player.”
Seeley’s first season coaching Davies was when she was a sophomore and he said that she was very shy. But over her years, she developed into a leader and ran the teams community service projects her senior year.
Current senior and captain Jordan Elkins followed under Davies leadership last season. Elkins said that although Davies wouldn’t lead a lot by voice, she did so instead by example.
Davies finished her career at Quinnipiac with 32 points but went through the extreme ups and downs with the team. After the team combined for four total wins her first two seasons, the team had 23 in her last two.
“From barely winning any games my freshmen year and having a different coach to being a team among the top 10 in the nation with a new coaching staff, it has been a quite unbelievable turnaround. The atmosphere, culture, and work ethic of the team is something I will remember forever.”
Davies has one more regular season game remaining.
“The hockey is not nearly as good as the Division I level but I have enjoyed being somewhat of a super star over here,” Davies said.
Davies continues to share her experience playing overseas with her blog, http://skatingthedream.blogspot.com/.