Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Big Brothers Influence Massachusetts Women on U.S. Olympic Hockey Team

By Maggie Roth
Gordon College News Service
February 9, 2010

Meghan Duggan understands New England. She knows that no coffee is better than Dunkin’ Donuts and Cape Cod, Boston accents, Massachusetts drivers, and of course, hockey are wicked cool.

Duggan, a 22 year-old native of Danvers, MA, and member of the 2010 U.S. Women’s Olympic hockey team, is only a quarter of the women representing Massachusetts at this year’s Winter Games. Duggan plays alongside three other Massachusetts natives: Molly Schaus, 21, of Natick, MA; Erika Lawler, 23, of Fitchburg, MA; and Kacey Bellamy, 22, of Westfield, MA.

“Being from the Boston area, Ray Bourque was always a role model of mine,” said Duggan, whose family still lives in their home on Burley Street. “He played the game with so much passion and heart. I always loved to watch him play for the [Bruins].”

Duggan, who will wear jersey number 10, said it has been a long, challenging but rewarding process towards making the Olympic team after she made her first appearance with the national team in 2007. And she is not the only one who has had visions of Olympic gold from early on.

“Becoming a member of the Olympic team has been a dream of mine since I was about 9 or 10 years-old,” said Schaus, the goalie for Team USA. “It is something that I have been working for my whole life. It was an amazing feeling to hear my name called on August 24th and to know that everything I have done has paid off.”

Schaus said her most memorable hockey moments were winning the Beanpot Tournament with Boston College in 2007 and 2009 as well as winning the World Championships with Team USA in 2008 and 2009.

For many of these women, not only has hockey been a part of their lives starting from extremely early age, but also having older brothers has influenced their game.

“My older brother played hockey and when my parents went initially to sign him up in our youth program, they offered some sort of family discount,” said Duggan. “My parents signed me up as well so that it would be easy to watch me and they wouldn’t have to worry about me running around the rink and causing trouble while my brother was skating. I grew to love the game from then on.”

Schaus also started playing hockey after watching her brother play.

“I learned to skate at a young age and then started to play hockey when I was 8,” said Schaus. “Like most younger sisters, I wanted to tag along with my brother who also played hockey. They didn't have a goalie to shoot on so he finally made a compromise: I could play with him as long as I played goalie. I jumped at the offer and have been playing goalie ever since.”

Duggan said that having been a part of the U.S. National team allowed her to set her sights on the Olympic team, but nothing compared to actually being selected.

“It was an incredible and unforgettable feeling to be officially chosen for the Olympic team,” she said.

Women’s hockey became an Olympic event in 1998 at the Winter Games in Nagano, Japan. Since then, Canada and the United States have remained the dominant teams but other countries have been starting to close the gap. Sweden won the silver medal at the 2006 Olympics, upsetting Team USA in a monumental playoff game.

For female hockey players, there are limited options for a hockey career after graduation. There are no professional leagues in the United States, and although there are a few teams in Europe and Canada, none of them pay enough to allow participation to be a full time job.

“I plan on continuing my hockey career for a few more years,” Schaus said. “Right now I love the game and want to keep playing, so I will take it one year at a time and see where life takes me.”

The first game that Team USA will play at the Vancouver Winter Games will be against China in a preliminary round on February 14 at 12:00 p.m.
Team USA photo courtesy of David Schaus. 
Player photo of Meghan Duggan, courtesy of Duggan.


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