living reading time: 5 min publication date: 13.12.2022


© Holly Thompson
Ice hockey players on the ice

There is no doubt being a significant other of a professional athlete can be a fun and exciting journey. Whether it is the new place you get to live in, the fun live sport events, or the friends you get to meet along the way, there are most definitely a lot of pros to this lifestyle. For me, being a partner of an athlete is great, and moving to Villach has made this experience even better. The timing of this move has also been very ideal for my partner and I. We both graduated last year from the University of Ottawa. While living in Villach, I am completing a full-time Master’s program and my partner is completing a part-time Master’s program. Both degrees are online programs which allow us the flexibility to be able to complete it from anywhere around the world. This keeps us very busy, especially considering I only have a Visa D which does not grant a work permit. When we are not studying or watching/playing hockey, we are sure to explore and travel as much as we can! 

This blog post will outline my experience of being a partner to a hockey player, who plays for EC VSV. EC VSV is a professional ice hockey team in Villach. I will plan on outlining some of the reasons it has been great being a partner of an athlete in Villach.



One of my personal favorite parts of living here as a partner on the team is that I have the opportunity to meet many local people. Whether the individuals are from Villach, or just from Austria in general, being a part of the “hockey world” has allowed me to meet so many people from this beautiful country. There is no doubt that moving across the world can be daunting, and often meeting people is one of the hardest parts of the move. For me, I was able to meet so many people, even within my first week here. As many of you may know, hockey teams in Europe only allow a certain amount of import players per year. So though there are some fellow Canadians on the team, the majority of the players and their partners are Austrian. Meeting these players and their partners has not only made me new friends, but also helped me to learn about Austrian culture. 

The EC VSV club has also made a wonderful effort to make this transition as comfortable as possible for us. We are provided a car, and an apartment when we first move here. Once we got settled in, the family-like club has organized many team events that have allowed us to feel comfortable and welcomed almost immediately. Some examples are; a team bowling night, a team thanksgiving, a team Halloween get together, and many other great things. This has not only allowed my partner and I to really get to know people within this organization, but also helped us feel more at home. My advice to anyone in a similar position, is to make an effort to attend these events, it is important to put yourself out there when moving to a new city (even if it is not the easiest thing to do ;) ).


Another pro of moving to Villach, is that this city is very central in Europe, and is a great starting point for traveling. For my partner and I, one thing that was top priority for us was having the chance to travel Europe easily. In Canada, everything is very far and to travel outside of your province or country, it is a very big ordeal. So having Italy only twenty minutes away, or many other countries-only a train ride or a few hour drive away, is quite amazing. This is an experience I would never have the opportunity to do, if it wasn’t for my partner playing in Europe. Another reason that traveling has been so easy for us, is that we are quite flexible because we do not have any children. This allows for many last minute road trips or vacations.  So far, we have been making great efforts to take advantage of the convenience of traveling and exploring with Villach as our home base.

Travel selfie
© Holly Thompson


Throughout talking to different fans or locals from Villach, one thing that I noticed was they were not aware how different European hockey is from North America. Though the sport itself is quite similar, the experience as a fan is very different and has been very fun to experience. From loud drums, to chanting songs, the passion is remarkable. This is something we would never see in North America, and even when I have had Canadian visitors, a common reaction is that the chanting is so fun and so different from the hockey experience at home. As a result, being a partner of an athlete in Villach has allowed me to create memories of the vibrant and enthusiastic fans of Europe.


In the end, though I have only been here for two months, being a partner in Villach has many perks. I look forward to supporting the success of EC VSV, while continuing to enjoy my personal experience of living abroad in such a beautiful, sports loving city.