Four alumni from the Lake Forest College women’s hockey team have taken their playing careers to the professional level. Allie Carter ’16, Michelle Greeneway ’16, and Olivia Spellmire ’18 competed for standout teams in Europe this past year and Amy Budde ’19 will make her pro debut this fall.
After graduating in 2016, Allie Carter spent the year working at GM Financial in downtown Detroit, Michigan. Her career plans, however, quickly shifted after she was contacted by the head coach of the DEC Salzburg Eagles, a professional team that competes within the European Elite Women’s Hockey League (EWHL) in Salzburg, Austria.
“In college I didn’t have time to think about competing professionally," Carter noted. "I was the back-up goalie my freshman and sophomore year so I focused on growing my skills to become a starter. After my senior year, I began to think more about the potential to continue competing.” One year later in August of 2017, Carter packed her bags and moved to Sweden.
In the two years that Carter spent with Salzburg, the program experienced much success. After finishing fourth in the EWHL during the 2017-18 season, the Eagles climbed to second in the standings in 2018-19. The EWHL is comprised of seven countries in Central Europe (Austria, Hungary, Italy, Slovenia, Slovakia, Croatia, and Czech Republic).
Despite practicing three times during the week and competing in one to two games each weekend, Carter views professional play as less demanding when compared to her collegiate experience. “In college, there was a larger time commitment, fewer players on the squad, and overall the game was more competitive.”
The biggest challenge Carter faced was balancing hockey while working full-time. However, in her limited free time, she was able to find opportunities to travel, ski, and explore the city. “The entire experience was unreal. My roommates and I often looked at each other and asked how did we get here? The country is surrounded by mountains and sunsets. It was beautiful and it felt like home.”
A teammate of Carter’s, Michelle Greeneway, also took her career to the big league after earning a temporary spot with HV71, a professional hockey team that plays in the Swedish Women’s Hockey League (SDHL) in mid-February.
With two weeks remaining in the SDHL’s playoffs, Greeneway was unexpectedly contacted by the head coach of HV71 who was in search of a forward to play in the league’s championships. Greeneway was informed that several of the current players could not compete due to injuries and suspensions.
When Greeneway received the call, she was working at Allstate Investment in Chicago, but after receiving support and encouragement from both her boss and family, she decided she would pursue this once in a lifetime opportunity.
The head coach contacted Greeneway the morning of Friday, February 15, and just a few hours later, she had signed a contract with the team and made travel plans to fly to Copenhagen two days later.
Although HV71 did not advance in the playoff run, Greeneway feels very fortunate to have experienced a more advanced side of the sport. “The speed of the game was a lot faster than in college. It was a different level of competitiveness,” said Greeneway.
Greeneway spent two weeks with the team before heading back to her home city in early March.
“I think it would be tough to switch lifestyles and compete professionally year round. That, combined with living across the world away from family, would be difficult for me. I received an ideal situation where I was there short term and did not need to give up what I love most about Chicago.”
Olivia Spellmire had a similar whirlwind experience; however she was able to secure a spot with Stocksund Danderyd Enebybergs (SDE), another member of the Swedish Hockey League. The opportunity to compete surfaced on February 11 while she was working full-time for the National Cardiovascular Partners.
After talking with the head coach and learning about the team’s goals to win the title in order to remain in the SDHL, Spellmire knew this was an opportunity she couldn not pass up. Two days later, she was on a flight to Stockholm.
After practicing with SDE for a week, the team flew to northern Sweden to play Skellestea in the championship of the four-team playoff. Spellmire scored the game-winning goal for SDE in the first game, leading the squad to a sweep and allowing the program to continue to play in the A league within the SDHL.
Spellmire flew home on Monday, March 4, but in her brief time abroad, she learned that, “on the ice, it’s important to adapt to the speed of the game and off the ice, to step away from your comfort zone and get to know your teammates.”
The SDE program will gain another Forester when Amy Budde joins the team this August. While she was competing in her final season at Lake Forest College, Budde was contacted by the head coach in late January. Four months later, she officially signed a professional contract.
Budde will depart for Stockholm, Sweden on August 1. Leading up to this departure, Budde has been working out at a facility in her hometown called Pro Tier six days per week with a training regime that consists of skating, running, and lifting.
Budde will join the team as its youngest member and also as the only athlete with a Division III background. “I am really excited to play with some of the best players in the world and to see if I can keep up at their level.”
While Budde is competing, she also has plans to work at Autoliv, a swedish automotive safety supplier. Her first day of training begins on August 5 and the team will open the 2019-20 season on September 13.