Nathan Walker was only 14 years old when he decided to pack up all of his belongings and move 14,000 miles in order to follow his dreams of playing ice hockey at a professional level.
As a kid growing up in the sweltering heat of Australia, the thought of dominating ice rinks in North America seemed an unlikely eventuality.
However, when Walker was 14, his then coach helped him to transfer to the Czech Republic in order to have a trial with HC Vitkovice, a professional organisation in the country.
He didn’t speak the Czech language and struggled to make any friends for the first couple of years that he was living there. Ultimately, he made the sacrifice in order to get more time on the ice even if it meant leaving all his family and friends behind in Australia.
While he was born in Wales, Walker was two years old when the family moved to Australia. He got the ice hockey bug after watching his older brother play and was fully hooked when he watched the classic American comedy movie “The Mighty Ducks.”
This kicked off his hickey playing at the age of six. He managed to impress the coaching staff sufficiently in the Czech Republic to be given a spot on the youth teams and he worked his way up through the age groups.
This led to him being the first ever Australian to play professionally in Europe and was also the youngest to play in the Czech first division when he made his debut for the senior side.
It wasn’t long before the NHL scouts were watching him and he subsequently signed with the Washington Capitals after being chosen in the 3rd round of the draft.
He played in the minor leagues for a while, turning out for the South Carolina Stingrays and Hershey Bears.
He eventually made his debut and managed to score a goal in his first ever NHL appearance. He is now hoping that some of his fellow Australians will be inspired to take up the sport.