Hilary Knight: The Definition Of A Busy Offseason
BY HILARY KNIGHT, TWO-TIME OLYMPIC ICE HOCKEY SILVER MEDALIST
Being at the Olympics in Sochi, Russia, was amazing, exhilarating and exhausting all at the same time. After the Games, I took a couple weeks off and then hopped into our professional league (Canadian Women’s Hockey League) to play for the Boston Blades. I love hockey, and clearly can’t get enough of it!
Shortly after playing for the Boston Blades in the Clarkson Cup Championships, I went snowboarding in Mont Tremblant, Canada, and Stowe, Vermont. I had never skied or snowboarded out east before, so I figured since my season was over, I had some time to have a little bit of fun and test out a few mountains. It didn’t go as well as I had planned. I much rather prefer the powder of the west (my hometown is Sun Valley, Idaho) — mountains out east are beautiful, but I am just not skilled enough to snowboard on ice!
As the weather got a bit warmer, I decided to buy a Jeep Wrangler. I know nothing about cars, but I figured fixing up a Jeep would be a fun hobby, and force me to do something different than train and skate! I was well in over my head! Cars are really complicated, but I made some adjustments to my Wrangler and it is somewhat a work in progress, but I definitely liked cranking tunes on my Beats Pill in the garage and working on different parts of the car. It turned out the only thing I was somewhat good at was painting!
I also took up the game of golf. I had played before, and gone out with my teammates and had fun rounds. Mostly to dress up and get golf clothes, but I was approached to golf in different fundraisers. I was invited to play in the ACC Golf Championships in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. I was really excited; I get to raise money for a great cause while interacting with people and playing golf! I show up to the tournament and I realized I was way in over my head. There were cameras everywhere, and crowds of people following different groups. I hadn’t golfed 18 holes consecutively in my life!! It was such an amazing and unique experience and everyone I golfed with was wonderful. I got my first par and was ecstatic. (Oh yeah, and I was going into the event thinking that the scoring was best ball…I was so far off!!) People ask how I played…I jokingly respond, I beat Charles Barkley. (He was one of my favorite people to golf with — such a kind heart).
I was honored with the opportunity to be a sports envoy with the U.S. Embassy in Belarus. My teammate Julie Chu and I went to Belarus to spread peace through sport. It was a surreal experience. I had my prejudgments of what Belarus was going to be like, but all of my previous thoughts went out the window as soon as I left the airport and drove through Minsk. It is a beautiful country. It still has remnants of the old Soviet culture, and I’m pretty sure I had some sort of police detail following me around asking me why I was working out. I didn’t have the heart to tell the man that I was trying to stay somewhat fit for the ESPN Body Issue photo shoot. It was hard enough to explain that opportunity to my dad, and trying to describe that to someone not familiar with U.S. culture would have been very difficult process…wasn’t going to go there. Belarus was a blast; we held a couple clinics and changed people’s minds about Americans and women in sport. Our translator told us after one of our first sessions that the coaches were talking about us, saying they were shocked we could play hockey because we were girls. Chu decided to have me take a slap shot to start off our sessions so there would be no doubt we were women who could play hockey, and we’re pretty darn good at it!
And then there was the ESPN Body Issue…only one word comes to mind when the shoot came around, “terrified.” I remember the night before the shoot, thinking, ‘So why again did I sign up for this? Is this really necessary?’ My self doubt was crushed by the weighing responsibility I had to not only myself, but promoting our sport, and showing women (and men) all over the world that everyone’s body is different. Femininity isn’t petite. Feminine is strong, confident, muscular. It’s fit, healthy and active. This photo shoot was something far bigger than I or me. Not going to lie, it was intimidating to try and perform my sport in front of eight professional strangers. I don’t know why that was the most terrifying part. I guess you tend to just think of the people in front of you, and not the million viewers worldwide that would eventually receive the magazine (my poor brothers…sorry!). I was, however, worried about the photo shoot because I did have a wonderful trip to Belarus, and I made some great friends through sport, and I did enjoy local beer…(it was the offseason!)
Because I posed naked…it was only natural for me to go to the ESPYS and embarrassingly attend the Body Issue party with a giant version of my naked self on the wall — and by giant I mean the size of a building. I would have a conversation with someone and out of the corner of my eye — bam! — my nude body would pop up on the side of the wall. But in all seriousness, I had a blast at the ESPYS. It was great to meet the other athletes and swap stories with them. It was also a great feeling knowing that athletes from across all sports were big supporters of us during the Olympics, watched our games and shared in our emotions. Also, Drake is one of my favorite musicians and it was cool to see him host the show. Shout out Frederik Andersen from the Ducks!
The last couple of months have been pretty crazy. I had various appearances and photo shoots, a media tour in NYC, worked on a campaign with Dewar’s, attended the Women’s Sports Foundation gala and spoke at the espnW Women + Sports Summit. Oh, and I became the first female skater to practice with an NHL team, the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks is such an amazing organization and I was beyond thrilled when they invited me to come out and skate with the guys. I love to push boundaries so this was right up my alley. It was a great opportunity to go out there and skate with the guys and was a dream come true.
My ultimate goal is to help grow the sport and pave the way for female athletes all over the world, not just in hockey — this was just a small step in the right direction. Who knows, you may be seeing more of me out on NHL ice.
Check out the full story here: http://www.teamusa.org/News/2014/November/05/Hilary-Knight-The-Definition-Of-A-Busy-Offseason