Castlegar’s Jennifer Gallo answered the door when opportunity knocked and will fulfill her dream of playing pro hockey when she joins the EV Bomo Thun in Switzerland this season to play in the Swiss Women’s ‘A’ Hockey League.
“I’m excited and honoured to go play for EV Bomo Thun, and just thankful for the opportunity,” said Gallo.
The former Kootenay Wildcat was invited to play in the six-team league after a former NCAA coach put her in contact with potential teams earlier this year. Gallo sent video to a handful of European and Canadian teams, and while many were interested, the Swiss team was the first to sign her to a one-year deal.
“It’ll be good for me,” said Gallo. “I haven’t travelled overseas, but have been all over the states with hockey, I think this will be a new experience and what better way than to play hockey, the game you’re passionate about, and travel at the same time.”
Gallo grew up playing minor hockey on “boys’” teams prior to lacing them up with the Kootenay AAA Wildcats and B.C. Outback Women’s AAA team as well as Team BC. Gallo went on to play for the University of Maine on a full hockey scholarship, recording 40 goals and 37 assists in her 124 game career, and led the team in scoring in her senior year. She also attended Hockey Canada camps to train with the national team.
For the past two years, Gallo has worked as an Education Assistant at St. Michael’s School in Trail and was assistant coach to the Kootenay Bantam Wildcats female hockey team, while maintaining her competitive edge by playing in men’s leagues and running hockey skill-development sessions.
The Swiss A League is one of Europe’s elite women’s leagues with a number of Olympic calibre players. The city of Thun in the canton of Bern, where Gallo will reside, is a scenic marvel of 12th century castles set on the River Aare with Lake Thun and the Swiss Alps looming in the distance.
Gallo says the prospect of going to a foreign country and embracing a different culture is something she looks forward to, and playing on a team with just three North American imports gives her the chance to represent her country on an international stage.
“I’m just excited to be kind of like an ambassador too, of going and representing Canada, because that’s cool, and representing Castlegar and the Kootenays is so awesome.”
But playing the game she loves trumps them all.
“I think my goals are to just play the best that I can obviously, and to just help the team, because that’s why they are bringing us over there, to help the team and work hard on and off the ice.
“But I’m just excited, I’m excited to see what the culture’s like out there, I’m excited to travel, and, obviously, number one is to play my favourite game, I’m so passionate about it.”
Gallo can’t forget those that made this opportunity possible and would like to thank her family, friends, and past coaches for all their support.