Hilary Knight, Team USA ice hockey forward, just returned from Sochi with another Olympic silver medal to add to her already-impressive resume of accolades and achievements. Originally from Sun Valley, Idaho, the 24-year-old made her Olympic debut in Vancouver in 2010 and as the youngest member on the squad, helped Team USA to a silver medal, her first. Hilary graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2012, leading the Badgers to an NCAA Championship her sophomore year. She is a four-time World Champion and currently plays in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.
We sat down with Hilary to talk about her time in Sochi, when she knew she had more than average athletic abilities and what the work of the Women’s Sports Foundation means to her.
Women's Sports Foundation: You just returned from Russia a few weeks ago…congratulations on your Sochi silver medal. I think everyone would love to hear some insider scoop about Sochi. How do these Games compare to your first in Vancouver four years ago? In five years, what will you remember as your favorite moment of the Games? Any fun behind-the-scenes stories you’re willing to share?
Hilary Knight: Competing in my second Olympic Games was such an honor! I was a little less nervous and more comfortable with the setup and competing in Russia than when I hopped on the ice for my first Olympics in 2010 at Vancouver. It is hard to compare the two games, both respectively were very unique and will always hold a special place. The memory I will carry with me will be the smiles, and happiness I experienced while competing for and representing our country with such amazing teammates.
The typical day in Sochi was 45 degrees Fahrenheit, usually sunny. One day was particularly hot, and I believe we had the day off-or we may have had a single/ light training session. We were able to pal around. We found a football in our General Manager's room and decided to play a little toss around on the balconies of our residence. It was a gorgeous day, and it was so much fun to be outside trying to weave the football through tight spaces to various balconies. We even had some of Team USA's figure skaters and curlers from Denmark in the adjacent residence's balconies join in as well as grounds keepers who were willing to show off their arm strength when we happened to miss a balcony and drop the ball.
WSF: I read that you grew up in a skiing house and that your parents had never ice skated before you started playing hockey. Who introduced you to ice hockey? When did you know you had a natural talent for the sport?
HK: I was introduced to the sport when we moved from California to Illinois. My mom was an avid tennis and paddle tennis player-one of her paddle tennis partners had skated in college, her husband had played in college, and her children played- she suggested that the Knight clan try it out. Hockey became a family hobby-cold arenas, rink hot chocolate and early morning skates, a way of life. I was a late bloomer, but I thought I may have a chance at cracking the US National Team roster while I attended boarding school at Choate Rosemary Hall.
WSF: After winning a national championship in your sophomore year, you graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2012 and have been playing in the Canadian Women’s Professional Hockey League for the last two years. Will you be playing pro hockey for the foreseeable future? If not, what are your plans after sport?
HK: I love playing hockey. There is nothing like it! I jokingly say that "I never want to grow up!" As long as I am healthy, I can compete at a high level and I can play huge, then I will do just that. I had a potential offer and a few suggestions for playing in a Men's professional league. I have decided to return to the CWHL for the remainder of this season following the Olympic games. As for next year, I have aspirations of pushing the bar and showing people that a pony tail can't stop me from competing as a hockey player in a men's professional league. If you know of a skilled men's team looking for a forward, 5'11, 185lbs, let me know!
WSF: You share some seriously amazing food pictures on your Instagram. What is your go-to pre-game meal? Share your best healthy eating tip.
HK: Snacking is key!!! I absolutely love Chobani yogurt mixed with Udi's granola. My go-to pre-game meal consists primarily of carbs and protein. My staple pre-game meal would be oatmeal, but pasta and chicken, or pasta and a bag of tuna work just as well!
WSF: At the Women’s Sports Foundation, we are committed to creating leaders by providing all girls access to sports. Why is it important to you that every girl in our country have the opportunity to play the sport that she loves?
HK: I applaud the WSF for their efforts in empowering the current and younger generations. The WSF's commitment in creating leaders by providing access to sports for all girls is important to me because sports have given me so many opportunities. On a superficial level, a sport can be viewed simply as an organized fun exercise time, but when you scratch the surface and understand how great of an impact both mentally and physically a sport or sports can have on an individual and a group of people, you realize how magnificent and important an organized game of fun can truly be.
Through sports, I have been able to travel the world, meet amazing people, get involved in numerous communities, and learn how to hurdle any obstacle that may fall in my way. Learning how to work with other people, setting goals, aspiring to accomplish dreams, and gaining confidence all while staying fit and healthy seems like a winning commitment to me, and an opportunity that every girl should have via sports.