Tyler Sundeen is an American hockey player from the Golden State of California. His home club is in Los Angeles with the Tigers, but he has spent a great deal of time playing abroad! His first LEAP was to London, England in 2013 where he played for Indian Gymkhana. Three years later, he made his way to Perth, Australia to compete for Old Aquinas HC. Last week, following winning Bronze at World League 2 in Trinidad & Tobago with the USA Men’s National team, Tyler took his third LEAP to play a season in Auckland, New Zealand for Roskill Eden HC. According to Coach James Grant, Tyler has “settled in quickly and easily, even scoring on his debut!” Tyler is in his early twenties and already has experience playing club in four different countries. His story attests to just how far you can go with your sport.
Plus, it doesn’t sound like he is looking to stop traveling with his hockey anytime soon! Tyler wants to continue playing in different countries, and he believes LEAP Worldwide can help him get there. He said, “My goal for my hockey career is to travel around as much as possible and play in as many different countries as I can so I figured LEAP would be ideal for putting me in contact with clubs that I’d otherwise never be able to even know about! It also a great way for clubs around the world to see my personal hockey resume so that I’m not hurt by the stigma of U.S. men not having any true experience playing top level hockey.” It is true that in most of the United States, hockey is considered to be a sport played only by women. LEAP Worldwide hopes to aide in erasing this stigma, and connecting all athletes, regardless of gender, with opportunities to grow their game!
Tyler knew from the moment he heard about this platform’s mission that he had to get involved. He tells us, “I want to meet as many people, and experience as many different cultures, as I can in my lifetime and I realize I am very fortunate to have hockey as an opportunity to do that without putting myself in debt like most young people that want to travel.” His favorite location that he’s played in so far, however, has to be Perth, Australia. Coming from a state in the U.S. with amazing beaches, Tyler was still blown away by the beauty of the Australian coast. But what really made his time with Old Aquinas HC so special was the friendships he made; “Everyone was extremely friendly and made me feel like I’ve been part of the club for years!”
This was extremely important for Tyler, who admits that being so far from home was hard for him at first. He told the LEAP team that, “If I’m being honest, I struggled mightily when I first arrived in Perth. I’m a big family guy and I really missed my family when I first arrived and felt pretty lonely the first week or so in Perth, but when I met all the guys on the team and made some friends everything took a 180 and I never wanted to leave!” Even if the move abroad seems daunting, LEAP Worldwide is committed to ensuring that players know exactly what they’re in for once they arrive at their new club. By connecting athletes with coaches, as well as players who already experienced a stint abroad at that location of interest, those who are considering taking the LEAP can collect all the information necessary to be sure that this is the right place, club, and community for them. It’s only a matter of time before you find your second home through the LEAP platform!
We asked Tyler to compare the playing style in the U.S. to that of Australia, and he reckons they couldn’t be more different! He says, “The league I play in U.S. is a lot of retired national players and social/casual players so the pace is very slow and relaxed. Perth was a stark contrast to that. The pace of the game was insanely fast and it never slowed down throughout the entirety of the game. At first, I was overwhelmed but once I adjusted to it I felt like it was more suited to my style of play.” The different types of exposure to various playing styles and game speeds improves the skills of athletes to great lengths, and this pays dividends when returning home, and in future overseas opportunities.
While abroad, Tyler also got to connect with other imports from around the world. In fact, he tells us that, “Whilst in Perth I ended up moving in with an Argentinian import and we became the best of mates! Which is quite funny considering the US has a pretty intense rivalry with Argentina.” Tyler reckons that building relationships with players from all different countries and walks of life helped him realize how great the international hockey community truly is.
We also got to hear some of Tyler’s funny stories and lingo mix-ups he experienced while in Perth. He says there was a learning curve while growing accustomed to Australian phrases, telling us, “…it took me some time to realize that ‘pill’ meant ball in Australia and for the first few weeks I was left scratching my head wondering why everyone kept saying “Pass the pill!” or “Great pill!” I thought they were saying “peel” which we use in the US as a type of run to make to get the ball.” He also had to get used to some of the local wildlife that the Aussies don’t bat an eye at! Tyler recalls, “I remember seeing Kangaroo crossing signs everywhere in Perth, including the Metropolitan areas, and thinking to myself are there really Kangaroos this close to the city? Sure enough, within a few days of that I see a Kangaroo running alongside the highway and, while I was in shock, everyone else acted like there was nothing to see.”
Tyler just was part of “the best tournament he’s been apart of” with the U.S. Men’s National Team in Trinidad & Tobago. The team fought hard and had multiple very close exciting wins making this World League Three extremely special. Team USA beat the Russians in their second penalty shootout win to raise up the Bronze medal. When asked about his time in Trinidad, Tyler said “I realized most of the negative stuff you hear about Trinidad and other similar countries is completely wrong and many of the locals here have been some of the friendliest people I have ever met.” This is a great example of the new insight that players obtain from competing abroad. With new international experiences comes magnitudes of new cultural and global perspectives, and this couldn’t come in handier considering our world is increasingly interconnected! Plus, nothing brings people together than the love and fun of sports.
We asked Tyler if he had any advice for players looking to go abroad, and he said this: “I’d say to just go for it!… go all in and make the most of it. Also, enjoy the experience and take time to explore the city and do things you normally wouldn’t because those are usually the most memorable and cherished moments.”
And here at LEAP Worldwide, we couldn’t agree more! Abroad opportunities provide amazing athletic experiences for players, but a great deal of the memories are made off the field, whether that’s exploring new cities, experiencing authentic culture, or making those friends that will last you a lifetime. We don’t want you to miss out, and with the LEAP Worldwide platform at your disposal, you don’t have to.
Thank you to Tyler for sharing his story with us! We wish him the best of luck as he continues competing around the world. To stay connected with Tyler and so many more global athletes, signup with LEAP Worldwide today! Click below!
Feature photo from the gallery at http://www.fih.ch/events/hockey-world-league/2017-men-hockey-world-league-round-2-tacarigua-tto/photos/