Hockey Player from Latvia Making Owatonna Home
Brody Ward is entering his second season with the Steele County Blades junior hockey club. His family has to travel about 112 miles from Annandale, MN to watch his games in person at the Four Seasons Centre in Owatonna. It’s a bit farther for his roommate.
Ward enjoys the experience of meeting people from other parts of the world, “It’s pretty cool. Because I get to learn what their life’s about. I actually had a Russian roommate [last season]. I got to learn about Russia. And now I have a Latvian roommate.” He’s learned their lifestyle isn’t too different, “It’s pretty close. It’s just different foods and little things like that, but overall, the same.”
No matter the distance, being away from home is tough, says Ward, “Just getting away from my family. Just the living part, being away from family and friends.”
Roberts Briedis from Latvia Face-Timed with his folks frequently while playing AAA hockey in Canada last winter, “It was hard being away from home. First year away from parents. That was kind of hard. But then I got used to it. My agent knew the coach from Canada. They got together and I had one week to decide if I wanted to go or not. And I went and I had an awesome year. I was leading the team in goals.”
He hopes to play college hockey and said the path there includes playing juniors in the US. He misses his hometown of Bauska, “It’s in the south side of Latvia, bordering Lithuania. The border is like 17 kilometers away. Our town is not too big. It’s 10,000 people. Our town is kind of cool from a bird’s point of view because it is covered by two rivers. Then the rivers kind of collide and make one big river. And we are in the middle of the two rivers. We have a big castle with a park where I like to go for walks to relax there. I love my country and my town.” [Click below to hear the full interview.]
The Blades bring back a veteran team and Ward believes they’ll rebound from a slow start, “The strengths are we have a lot of returners. So, we know what it’s all about and we can guide the newer guys to what we want and go from there.”
Steele County’s roster includes players from the Czech Republic, Belarus, Korea, and Hungary. The Blades are home for games on Friday, October 20, and Saturday, October 21 against the Wisconsin Rapids River Kings. [View the whole schedule.]