All my life I prioritized only two things: hockey and education. Since childhood, I attended extracurricular English classes and I knew that my additional studies would be useful. I started playing hockey when I was five. My dad brought me to HC Kobra, where I stayed until I was sixteen. Then, I transferred to Sparta, where I played for one year in the U-18 and then for three years in the U-20 team, where I worked as team captain for 2 seasons and won the scoring of the contest in +/- evaluated. I went to grammar school Stepanska and then attended a university in Czech Republic for two years where I studied economics in English.
In Czech Republic, education and sport are almost impossible to combine. So, naturally, there was a time when I had to decide which I wanted to continue to pursue. School would be a secure path for my future, but playing hockey had always been my dream, for which my parents and I had sacrificed a lot of time. I decided to look for other options, but I did not find much information because in Czech Republic there was no one who could provide any information about how to combine hockey and school. I heard a little bit about the system of American universities, but I learned about it more from Petr Boháček, my friend who went to the USA to play American football. After graduating from high school, he got a scholarship to a four-year college (Petr is the first Czech man to play American football at a university in the USA).
I was put into contact with my first contact through Yorick Treille, who played at Sparta at the time when I first practiced with the A-team. I immediately saw that my ability to communicate in English was incredibly useful because I was one of the few players who managed to talk with Yorick in a full-fledged conversation, during which he mentioned the American university system, where he studied and then went to the AHL. With him giving me his former coach email, my journey to America began.
I did not know about the application process at the beginning, and because of my lack of knowledge, I spent around two years involved in the process. The actual communication with coaches and people from admission office consisted of phone calls, Skype interviews, and countless email.
The student life in the Czech Republic and the USA is in many ways similar. However, if a person is involved in any sport, there are great differences. In America, everyone chooses their subjects themselves after consultation with their “academic advisor,” so there is flexibility when it comes to what classes you're taking. Training is carefully planned so as not to interfere with classes, so most of the afternoon practices on the ice are at a time when there are no lessons.
My typical day during the season was incredibly busy: I would wake up around seven in the morning and exercise for an hour in the gym. After the gym, I would have breakfast and then go to multiple classes. This was followed by lunch in the school cafeteria, where I would always meet with my teammates. After lunch, I would either go to my room or to the library, where I could spend a few hours preparing the next day’s coursework. Then, the team would meet for afternoon training, which lasted two hours, but was divided by adjusting the ice, so usually, we spent the first part of coaching individual skills and the second part of game situations. After training with teammates we went to dinner in the school cafeteria. After dinner, I would go to the library or my room to do more coursework.
As a former student-athlete, the university in America was the best thing that could have happened to me, because I could play hockey at the highest level attainable and still get my degree. Therefore, I always had an alternative to a professional sports career in case I got hurt, was not good enough for a professional team, or if I simply chose a different career from professional athletics.
Sport was a tool for my development. Through sport, I was able to learn about hard work, cooperation, the process of learning & perfecting skills. I also learned that if I get kicked down, it is not the end and I can get back up through consistent work.
Sport was also a big part of me getting a position created for me at an international company where I was able to work for and with some of the top people in the fintech industry in NYC.
The process of preparation and actually being in college is an investment. It is an investment of both time and money. The best investment is in yourself!
I now lead a team of exceptional individuals who work together in order to help international student-athletes develop themselves inside and outside of their sport and live up to their full potential, and I am grateful for that every day.
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