Here I am watching you as a guest analyst on NBCSN for an NHL game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins. This is four days after watching you participate in the fastest skater event at the NHL All Star Skills competition in San Jose, California.
You are poised and articulate. You demonstrate and speak of your love of the game. I am thrilled to watch you do it.
I am a 57-year-old hockey fanatic. I am not one of the young ones I see on Facebook who you have inspired to learn how to skate or play hockey. True, that is awesome. But I am just as inspired.
I love hockey. My dear father taught me how to play this amazing sport when I was 14. It was 1975 when my dad taught me how to blaze a trail. My dad took me to a hockey clinic at the local rink on Long Island and I had to dress into my gear at home because they didn’t have a girl’s locker room. Walking up to the doors of the rink, a man said to my dad, “Oh, you brought your son today.” My dad replied, “She’s my daughter.” Turns out I was the only girl playing. No boy would pass me the puck until I made a clean hard check to stop a scoring attempt by the opposing team. After the check I picked up the puck and went down the ice and scored. I was passed to after that. God bless my dad for introducing me to hockey. God bless all the girls and women before and after me who have embraced this awesome game and blazed a trail of their own.
Kendall, you have brought that feeling back to me. You have woken up in me the need to try and to believe in myself. You have reminded me what it means to succeed. Thank you.
Thank you for inspiring our little ones. You are showing us that more is possible. Never would I ever have thought a fellow hockey player would be side by side with male NHL players and share the same skills. Never would I ever have thought there would be a National Women’s Hockey League. When I grew up and first started playing hockey, some players went on to play in college. That was it. That was as far as we could go. I was proud to have accomplished that. I became captain of my collegiate team. I was thrilled and loved every minute of it.
When Team USA won Olympic Gold in Japan in 1998, the inaugural event, I was off the wall. I remember I was on vacation in Atlanta and woke up early to watch the game in a hotel room. I had so much energy after that I went for a run. And I don’t run! I just had so much energy from it that I had to move. It’s all I could do. The feeling of hope and watching other women hockey players succeed on this grand stage raised me up.
This week, you have inspired women of all ages including this one right here. Thank you for your drive and your mad skills. Thanks for your bravery and courage. Thanks for rocking it out there! Thanks for raising us all up, the young and the young at heart.