I love the Olympics. Especially the Winter Olympics. I got rid of cable about six years ago, but recently signed up for Hulu so that I could watch the games. Over the past two weeks, I’ve watched as much as I could.
One of the reasons that I love the Olympics so much is that I’ve always been a fan of playing for the name on the front of your jersey, not the back. So often in professional sports it’s all about the athlete. They play for whomever will pay them the most. There is no allegiance to any particular team. It’s not that way at the Olympics.
I’m a huge hockey person. Count me among the people who were wide awake at 1 AM as Team USA was going to overtime and the shootout against arch-rival Canada. I had tears rolling down my face as Maddie Rooney stopped four-time Olympian Meghan Agosta in the shootout to give Team USA the gold. It was the first time in 20 years that Team USA had won gold.
Many of the names on the women’s hockey team are very familiar to me. I remember watching alternate captain Kacey Bellamy play for UNH against the University of Maine. Her brother, Rob, played hockey for UMaine. He’s a friend of mine on Facebook and has been in PyeoneChang the past week. The photos that he has been posting, especially Thursday were awesome. I remember watching Kendall Coyne play for Northeastern and Amanda Pelkey skate for Vermont.
By the end of the on-ice celebration the majority of the women were skating around with a flag. I’ve watched countless medal ceremonies where the gold medal winners had tears rolling down their faces. The emotion is due to their pure love of the sports and what they have accomplished, not their financial profit.
The pure elation that Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins showed as they claimed the gold in cross country skiing team sprint was spectacular. How about Chris Mazdzer? He didn’t win a gold, but took silver in the luge. It’s the first ever individual medal in luge for the United States. In an interview afterwards, he said that run was “16 years in the making.”
What about the USA men’s curling team? They were almost eliminated in the tournament early on after a 2-4 start in round robin. They then come back to win gold! Yes, the first gold in men’s curling history for the USA as the crowd was changing USA, USA!
Few people will ever truly recognize the dedication that it takes to be an Olympic athlete. I can only dream what it must be like to put on a jersey that says USA on the front. I dreamed of competing in the Olympics when I was younger, but that is as far as I got.
To each and every Olympic athlete - I salute you. For the rest of their lives they will be referred to as Olympians and some of them Olympic medalists. Thank you for the years of commitment to your sport. Thank you for playing for the name on the front of your jersey, not the back.