John F. Russell: Finding his place on the North Sea
Steamboat Springs — I can’t image how Ryan Dingle and his wife, Sophie, are feeling right now.
Dingle grew up in Steamboat Springs and after spending his college days at the University of Denver, made a run at the National Hockey League. That run fell short of his goals, but hockey has continued to be a big part of his life.
He has spent the past couple years playing in Italy, but was traded to a team in Scotland at the end of last season. Talk about culture shock.
At the end of August, the couple moved to Kirkcaldy, Scotland, where Ryan began training and playing for the Fife Flyers in the Elite Ice Hockey League. After spending the past several seasons playing hockey in Cortina, Italy, he is accustomed to adjusting to new places. But Kirkcaldy is located on the ocean, far from the mountains he has always considered home.
It seems some people, people like Ryan, have no problem picking up and moving to some far away place to live in a culture that is so different from what most American’s are used to. Were you to ask Ryan, I’m sure he would tell you he would live in Steamboat Springs if given the opportunity. But for him, the love of hockey has expanded his horizons past those that are filled with mountains in Colorado. His love of hockey has forced him to stretch his wings and accept new cultures and to leave any fear of moving behind him.
“We had two preseason games last weekend and tied the first one against Belfast and won the second one against Edinburgh,” Ryan said in an email this week. “We are getting settled in, and things seem to be good.”
Ryan said getting settled in has been easier in Scotland, since there isn’t a language barrier.
“It’s really nice to be able to ask questions and get everything figured out,” Ryan said.
During his hockey career, Ryan has learned that “hockey” is the only language he really needs to speak to be successful. That said, he is quick to point out that being able to speak English makes things off the ice a bit easier.
“The fans here are great,” Ryan said. “Cortina didn’t really draw much of a crowd, so it’s fun to play in front of so many enthusiastic people. It seems like hockey is a big part of the community here, which is always important.”
And hockey has always been important for the player who still likes to call Steamboat Springs home.
‘I’ve always lived in mountain towns.” Ryan said. “Kirkcaldy is right on the season, so that’s been a change. Our apartment is down by the harbor, and it’s definitely different to hear lapping waves and seagulls. You don’t get that in Steamboat.”
Still, Ryan is hoping the move to Kirkcaldy will actually help keep him closer to his friends in Steamboat.
“The league is much more connected than it was in Italy,” Ryan said. “The website is regularly updated, and I believe that the games can even be streamed (fifeflyers.co.uk).”
Ryan said fans can also follow him on Facebook on the Fife Flyers homepage and Twitter (@fifeflyers).
“So far, we are doing it,” Ryan said. “We got here Aug. 24, and I jumped right into two-a-day practices with a workout between,” Ryan said. “The team seems great, and everyone is getting along and meshing well.”
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