Coventry Chronicles: The end of an era |

Coventry Chronicles: The end of an era

Sophie Dingle/For Steamboat Pilot & Today

This season, my husband retired from professional ice hockey. It was a decision that we made together, one that we discussed for months, and it was the right one for our family. In his last game, a playoff game on Easter Sunday, he scored the opening goal within 30 seconds, won the Man of the Match award and took a lap around the ice waving to and thanking the fans. The other team looked on, tapping their sticks on the ice for him while every fan in the rink was on their feet clapping for him. The referees shook his hand, the coaches congratulated him, the TV announcers praised him and then, with one final wave, he skated off and it was over.

Sophie Dingle

When I try to find the words to sum up our seven years abroad, I can’t. Instead, I get a collage of memories.

My favorite ones are what I used to call disaster stories when I was little. There was the time that Ryan and I drove all the way to Prague only to realize that our GPS didn’t work there. We were driving around the city in the dark, completely lost and every sign seemed to read “czksck.” It was a miracle when we somehow spotted our hotel on the side of the road.

Another time, when we lived in Cortina, Italy, the town was hit by a huge blizzard and we had no heat, power or hot water for three days. We put all our food out on our snowy porch and played Monopoly by candlelight.

There are also the small, in-between moments that I remember vividly as well: Hanging laundry out on our sunny balcony because we never had a drier; racing down a ski slope; a walk by the sea; an older Italian woman sitting in the sun during riposo, the time of day after lunch when you rest, her face turned up to the sun, eyes closed.

There were moments of struggle: missing home, endless rain, trying to be understood at the Italian bank. And moments of learning: language, culture, tradition.

There are the things we’ll probably forget: How to say swear words in Italian, a friend we made here or there, what our favorite Scotch tastes like. But there are the things we’ll always remember: trips to Venice, eating sausage sandwiches at tiny rifugios in Cortina, the birth of our first son in Scotland.

And then there are the things we’ll take with us: The way my son calls me Mummy from his two years of living in the UK; beans on toast, a meal both of my children have come to love; our Italian wedding rings and about eight million pictures from seven years in Europe.

In 2010, I was living in Manhattan and working at a large public relations firm — a job I was lucky to get in the midst of the recession. I suppose it was shocking when my then-professional-hockey-playing-boyfriend said “quit your job and move to Italy with me.” And I went. I literally cannot imagine what my parents must have thought. Credit to them for not telling me.

Credit to me for following my instinct or heart or whatever it was that got me on that Alitalia plane seven years ago.

And credit to us for knowing when it was time to move home and settle down with our babies. Steamboat Springs, we’re ready for our next adventure.

Sophie Dingle is a freelance writer currently living in England. Dingle’s husband, Ryan, is a Steamboat Springs native and retired professional hockey player. Follow their adventures at

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