See you later, Alligators

Came for the sport, stayed for the job

It’s funny how things work out sometimes – Jo Bärtschi came to Graubünden to play for the Alligator Malans, an NLA unihockey club. Now he’s moving on because life in Graubünden has opened up new prospects for him.

It’s about a two-hour drive from the Emmental valley to Graubünden, but the decision to move was not a hard one for Jo Bärtschi to make, who describes himself as “not really made for the city”. In fact, it was easier than he expected, as it was a move “from one beautiful natural landscape to another.” He started playing unihockey as a little boy in his village in the canton of Bern, and the sport quickly became the focus of his life – but he didn’t neglect his apprenticeship to become an automotive mechatronics technician because of it. At some point, he realised that playing for clubs that were in the bottom half of the standings was not really fulfilling for him. So when he received an offer to play for a top team – UHC Alligator Malans –, the decision was a no-brainer. Jo packed his bags, moved to a student flat in Chur, focused on training and started looking for a job on the side.

"I found a circle of friends incredibly quickly"

Wake up, work, train, sleep.

The 29-year-old describes finding this job at Polycontact to be a “huge stroke of luck”, because he had quickly realised during his apprenticeship that while working on cars was not his thing, the industry definitely was. As a sales assistant at Polycontact, he benefited from his technical background and was able to acquire additional expertise in sales and customer service. It’s a full-time job – alongside another full-time job. Training in the NLA is intense: “A normal day looks something like this: wake up, work, then go straight to training in the evening, eat something between 9 and 10 p.m., study a little more, go to bed. And then I do it all over again the next day,” says Jo. On the one hand, this doesn’t leave much time to explore the region and get to know its people, but on the other hand, it was exactly what made it so much easier for him to settle in: “I found a group of friends very quickly and felt right at home here almost immediately.” According to Jo, it also helps “that people from Graubünden are very friendly and open. Always helpful and ... very welcoming.”


Put your feet up.

Jo gave his all both for Polycontact and the Alligator Malans for four years. He worked on his speed, coordination and tactical understanding during training, and it was probably these very same skills that helped further his career at Polycontact. His discipline bore fruit: Jo has just been promoted to Key Account Manager. This career move came at a time when Jo’s plans and attention were gravitating towards the job anyway, so he left the Alligator Malans. Will this change be hard, from extremely intensive training to evenings “with your feet up”, as Jo says? “For now, I’m actually looking forward to having more free time. And if I feel the need to work out, I live in the perfect place to go biking or running,” he adds with a smile.

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