Olympians Knight, Decker host girls hockey camp at Darien Ice Rink
Published 12:18 pm, Friday, August 7, 2015
DARIEN — As young hockey players both Hilary Knight and Brianna Decker, now stars on Team USA, had the opportunity to go to camps hosted by some of their childhood idols.
Now that Decker and Knight have the accolades — starting with a Silver Medal in Sochi in 2014 and a Gold in the 2015 IIHF games — the duo was ready to give back.
The two athletes took to Darien Ice Rink for three days to host a clinic for girls ages 9-18, and many from the Fairfield County area showed up to have the opportunity to skate and learn from some of the game’s best.
“I think it’s an important part of being an Olympic athlete to give back,” Knight said. “And to pass on the skills that we’ve learned and make it a little easier for them; if they can just learn one thing then we’ve made an impact.”
Girls from all over the state participated in the clinic, but one girl, 15-year old Louise Beresford, came all the way from England to learn from the American stars.
“It’s a great opportunity to play with some of the best players in the world and it’s and opportunity that I probably wouldn’t get at home,” Beresford said. “It’s great to be with such great players that obviously know so much about the sport.”
The clinic consisted of both on and off-ice workouts. The dry land portion focused on stretching and nutrition, as well as what it takes to be an Olympian off the ice.
“Our camp is named Olympify for a reason,” Decker said. “To become an Olympic athlete you have to have a lot of elements to your game.”
As much of a treat as it was for the kids to get the tutelage of ultimate professionals, Decker and Knight both commented on how special the opportunity was for them.
“We looked up to huge faces of USA hockey when we were younger so know we get to come back and its cool to see the transition of us giving back to the younger girls who are coming up,” Decker said. “Hopefully someday these girls get to be in our shoes playing for the US team in the Olympics.”
Knight added that it was surreal to see herself in the position that her idols had once been, teaching kids as a member of the pinnacle of female hockey in America.
“It’s a dream come true,” Knight said.
“You grow up watching certain athletes play and you go to their camps and then years later thinking that you’re in the same position that they were to you and understanding the impact and value you can add to a younger generation.”
Knowing they can make a difference in the lives of another generation of female athletes in American is a reward well worth the effort for the two Olympians, but being able to look back at how they started and seeing the children having the same joy is just icing on the cake.
“It’s just seeing the smile on the kid’s faces,” Decker said of the most rewarding part of the gig. “Obviously we want them to get better and push them to the next level but at the same time they’re having fun and getting to skate around.”