Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Olympic Fever!

I’ve got the fever, the Olympic hockey fever that is. I find myself every four years almost giddy at the prospect of the chance to watch the US women’s hockey team. Yes, women’s hockey. Men’s hockey is great too, I want all the US teams to win. However, I find that women’s hockey is so much more exciting because they are not pro’s. Well, mostly. This year one player is, Angela Ruggiero. Even still we’re not talking NHL level here. Most of the women are in college, just out of college, or even just out of high school and they play at an incredible level of skill. I also enjoy the Olympic ice. The rink is 210 feet long and 98 feet wide as opposed to 200 and 85 respectively. The goal line is also moved from 11(NHL) to 13 feet from the endboards. The larger ice really opens up the game and, especially in the case of women’s hockey where big fights and big hits are not such an integral part of the game as in NHL men’s hockey, brings speed; agility; and stick handling to the forefront. The smaller, faster, more agile women, who are not being paid millions, on the big ice playing in the games of their lifetime for their country makes for some very exciting hockey.

The individuals on the team also are exceptional in their own right. I’ve mentioned one already, Angela Ruggiero is a Cum Laude Graduate of Harvard. She was voted best female hockey player in the world by the hockey news in 2003. Espn.com ranked her as one of the top 16 female athletes in the world (may 2004), globe and mail ranked her top defenseman in the world (2003), she’s an Olympic gold and silver medallist, and she was the first woman (non-goalie) to play in a professional hockey game (CHL) in North America. She made history with brother Bill and the Tulsa Oilers (CHL) by becoming the first brother-sister duo in professional sports’ history (2005), and she is currently in contention for a spot on the up coming season of the apprentice. As founder and head instructor of the All American Girls Hockey School, Ruggiero is making sure that the female hockey stars of the future learn to “put it all out there” like she does. She sets one heck of an example with everything she’s done: working with a number of charities and taking a trip to Uganda with the “Right to Play” program. And she’s just one on a team full of incredible individuals. To vote for her; CLICK HERE. To read more about Angela Ruggiero and her teammates; CLICK HERE and HERE. For more info on USA Women’s Olympic Hockey; CLICK HERE and HERE. To check TV coverage of Olympic hockey; CLICK HERE.

While I’m on the subject, in reference to men’s hockey, I don’t agree with allowing professional athletes in the Olympics. I don’t see the point. Every sport already has their respective all-star games. Why do we need to contaminate the Olympics with pro sports’ arrogance and showboating? I’m not just referring to hockey, basketball too. The games are so much more level, exciting, and in the Olympic spirit when lower level athletes compete in them.

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