February 19, 2018 07:27 PM
The United States Women's Ice Hockey Team will once again face Canada for Olympic gold, and a former US goaltender who was in the area last year says it raises the game for the entire sport.
Brianne McLaughlin earned silver in 2010 and 2014 with Team USA, and last November she was in the Rochester area working to inspire the next generation of Olympians.
It's a far cry from when she was a kid herself. She says she never had Olympic dream.
"I was actually a pretty clueless kid," she says. "I never paid attention to that stuff growing up, my biggest goal ever was to play Division One hockey."
And play she did. In fact, she set an NCAA record for career saves during her four years at Robert Morris University. In her junior year, though, everything changed when she was contacted by the United States National Team.
"Then it becomes work. It's the funnest (sic) job in the world, but it's a lot of work, a lot of commitment, but it was super, super fun."
McLaughlin went on to play in both the 2010 and 2014 games, and both times the US women earned silver. Now retired, the 30-year-old says that the Olympic fervor surrounding women's hockey works wonders for growing the game.
"It seems like every Olympics, women's hockey blows up. After 2014, we were on a team vacation in Mexico and there were people who knew exactly who we were. That had watched the game and we couldn't go anywhere without people saying that they'd watched it. That shows just in four years how much it had grown and I expect with another four years it will be even bigger."
She is doing her part to grow the game, too. McLaughlin runs camps exclusively open to young female hockey players.
"I just want to have a place for girls to play and train and feel comfortable," she says. "In my experience, I never had that. I played with all boys, and I went to one camp and I was the only girl there, but I've also heard so many stories of they're feeling left out or they don't know how to fit in. So for man, we can't be in the locker rooms, or getting changed in bathrooms, or lobbies, or the reffing room. So I just want to give them a space that they can train and be fun and play with other girls their age."
Perhaps the two-time medalist can ignite a few Olympic dreams along the way.
McLaughlin's camp will return to Rochester this coming summer, and will be held July 30 through August 2.
Created: February 19, 2018 07:27 PM
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