U.S. women hockey players lead male counterparts when it comes to Olympic sacrifice

Minnesota defender Megan Bozek (19) looks to make a pass against Boston University in the women’s Frozen Four NCAA Championship college hockey game, Sunday, March 24, 2013, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

If you look beyond the glamour events, it’s still possible to find the old-time Olympic spirit, even though the Olympics are increasingly for the well-paid professionals. One of the best places to find it is in women’s sports, in this case: hockey.

The U.S. women’s hockey team is training in Massachusetts, which is great if you happen to live there. But for Minnesotans and other non-New Englanders, it’s a sacrifice.

“While players receive financial support — a modest living and training stipend — from USA hockey for their six-month stay in suburban Boston, the economics usually don’t favor them,” the Boston Globe reports in an article about the arrangements with host families.

Meanwhile, back home in Illinois, (Megan) Bozek, one of the best defensemen ever to compete for the University of Minnesota, compiled a billet-family wish list. The Bracerases met all the criteria. Bozek, who grew up with two athletic older brothers, easily acclimated to her always-on-the-go host family. “I’ve done an elementary school, middle school, and high school pickup,” she says of her turns ferrying kids. Bozek likes the organized chaos of four kids, the energy, the different personalities, the laughter during dinner at the end of a long day. After the chicken salsa casserole draws good reviews, she is home alone with the two youngest Braceras children, Marcos and 11-year-old Gabriela. She shifts to equal parts mother and big sister. “Do you have homework?” she asks Gabriela, who has wandered into the kitchen. “Take off your Uggs. You’re gonna stay awhile.” Boots off, Gabriela disappears to do her homework.

Schleper preferred a quieter household than her former Minnesota teammate Bozek. Reading through billet-family profiles provided by the national team manager, write-ups that fell somewhere between dating website bios and real estate advertisements, she liked what she saw in the Stone family (no relation to her coach): Quiet, relaxing residence in Concord. Easy 10- to 15-minute commute to practice rink. Family of six with mother, father, and tennis-playing teenage daughter living at home. Accommodations include bedroom on the third floor with shared bathroom.

In many cases, the women have interrupted college careers or quit jobs for the chance to play in Sochi in a few weeks.

(h/t: Ted Canova)

Related: Biathlete Tracy Barnes gives up her Olympic Team spot to twin sister(OlympicTalk).

  • BJ

    I was reading about the US Womens Soccer team the other day. Very similar story, they at least have a pro league that pays them to play (under $30,000). US Soccer pays for some things but still very little return for the life invested in sport for women.