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Thriving (& Surviving): Life as a Hockey Wife and Mom By: Tara Kampfer

Thriving (& Surviving): Life as a Hockey Wife and Mom By: Tara Kampfer



To preface this, I understand how incredibly lucky I am to live the life I live and consider myself very blessed. But like many good things, there are hardships as well. Being married to a professional athlete is amazing, but there are some not so glamorous aspects as well. 

We call Hollywood, Florida our home as well as our “homebase”. We live here during the off-season and will live here permanently once my husband retires from the NHL. But during the season, we relocate to wherever my husband is playing. Sounds nice right? Two residences to call home? In short, yes it is very nice. We get to travel to places we never thought we would ever see in our lifetime. Our son, who’s only 3, has traveled the world and has been to many amazing countries. We know we are very fortunate to have had all these unique experiences!

tara and teddy

We have also lived all over the US.  We lived in NYC smack dab in Midtown Manhattan where you can literally feel the hustle and bustle of that city. We also lived in Boston.  I must admit we literally ate our weight in Italian food. It was delicious! Boston also has some of the best seafood you can find. Our son was born there, so that city will always hold a special place in my heart. And then there was Russia. 

My husband had been in the NHL for 11 years. He’s played for many teams and has even won the Stanley Cup. What a dream! After a decade, we decided to retire from the NHL and play overseas in Russia for the KHL. You could say it was our "riding off into the sunset" phase in his career. Imagine taking in that new information.  You not only have to leave your family and friends and the comfort of your home, BUT you have to move across the world to a country where US citizens can’t visit.  It was hard to digest. All of your favorite places and stores, no more? Thank god they at least had Starbucks. It was a HARD transition for all of us. 

Steven left for Russia a month before Teddy and I made the trek over. Let's just say, flying solo with a toddler on a 24-hour travel day can be stressful and tiring. Yes, the move to Russia was hard, but it was beautiful. The culture, the people, the architecture was nothing we had ever seen before. It was an amazing experience that took a lot of work and determination and it was worth it. 




While Steven was playing in Russia, he was selected to play for Team USA in the 2022 Olympics. He was named assistant captain. What an honor! He played

unbelievably and we will never forget that experience.  After the Olympics, NHL contracts started to fall into his lap. So after much consideration, Steven signed with his hometown team, the Detroit Red Wings. 



We are now in the middle of the off season. This is the time where Steven gets to relax, hang with us and play all the golf he wants as well as train for the upcoming hockey season. While he is gone all day training (and golfing), I am home with Teddy. Don't get me wrong, I cherish every single moment with my little guy. He will start school soon and I will look back on these days and miss having my little buddy around. But right now, this mom doesn’t get an off season - a break. There is no time away from being a mom. As most moms know, it can be exhausting. 


During the season, Steven is gone a lot and families do not travel with the team on away trips.  This means Teddy and I are basically on our own. It can be lonely because we are away from all of our family and friends. You're living in a new city, without your "village".  So you must go out of your comfort zone and try to find your new support system because we all need a little (or a lot) of help at some point when raising toddlers! 

Now we are at the point in the off-season where we wonder where we will live during the season. Not knowing where you will live, especially with kids, is unsettling. Do we rent a place? Furnished or not furnished? Do we need an apartment or a house? Will Teddy still be in his crib, or do we need to buy a toddler bed? This happens every year.

I'd like to say I am a professional packer and mover at this point in my life. Each hockey season means another move to an unfamiliar city (or country), but I have learned to navigate it accordingly. My first priority is getting Steven up to Michigan to start training camp while Teddy and I hang back until the season starts. Preseason can be pretty stressful for Steven because it is jam packed with testing and practice. And so this is a crucial time for Teddy and I because this is when we begin our new normal. It’s just the two of us. Due to our transition, I ask for the help from family and friends with packing and helping out with Teddy. I want to create some sort of normalcy for our little guy and so I make sure to pack our favorite things to make both of us feel at home!


The biggest thing that also helps me is to just take a deep breath and know everything will be alright. Everything happens for a reason and this will be all over soon. We are beyond lucky to live this lifestyle. No matter how difficult things are behind the scenes of this glamorous life I know we are VERY lucky.