USA Hockey Magazine

February 2018

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FEBRUARY 2018 USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM // 15 O LY M P I C R O A D T R I P eghan Duggan can't imagine her family not being in the stands when the puck drops in PyeongChang. The time and effort they put into helping the three-time Olympian chase her dreams is something not lost on the U.S. Women's Olympic Team captain. "Our parents made the ultimate sacrifice," said the Danvers, Mass., native. "It's certainly not easy to be a parent of an Olympic athlete. And it's not easy to be a spouse or significant other of an Olympic athlete because of all of the sacrifices and everything we have to make and all the time we are away. We wouldn't be able to do it without them, and I can't imagine my family not being there to support me." Thankfully, Duggan and her team- mates don't have to deal with the added stress of wondering if their fam- ily members will get an opportunity to watch them compete in the Olympics. They have Ross Valdez in their cor- ner. As the lead coordinator with the USOC's Friends & Family Program for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games, Valdez helps families of both the men's and women's team navigate through Even families who have been to the Olympics before provide com- fort and support to those who may be going through this process for the first time. "They really step up to the plate and provide additional resources while helping to manage their expectations," Valdez said. "This is an exciting time for the families, and we do what we can to help make everything a little less stressful." The players appreciate everything that is done to make sure their fam- ilies have the opportunity to watch them go for gold. "[They] do a fantastic job of to making sure our families and friends have an easy adjustment heading over to the Olympics," said two-time Olympian Brianna Decker. "I think they do a good job of communicating and making plans for them." Her teammate Kacey Bellamy agreed. "Our parents have made the ulti- mate sacrifice since we were young and all the dedication and time that they put in just for us to be success- ful and go for our dreams and goals means a lot," said the two-time Olympian from Westfield, Mass. "Obviously, we all want all of our friends and family there watching us on our biggest stage. For the USOC to help out our families in any way, we just can't thank them enough." P the challenges of traveling halfway around the world to watch their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters compete on sport's biggest stage. "It's not as if you can hop on one site and find all the resources you need to be prepared for such a large international event," Valdez said. It takes a team effort to make it happen, Valdez said, as the USOC and the national governing bodies provide a hand with everything from lodging to transportation to tickets for fami- lies of Olympic athletes. They also give them an idea of what to expect once their boots hit the ground in South Korea. "We try to give them a solid foun- dation of what to expect, and really, beyond the resources, we also do webinars on the women's hockey side where I'll do a presentation and then open things up for a question-and-an- swer session," he said. "You get an idea of the concerns weighing on each fam- ily's mind. I try to get them as many answers as possible." Tickets are a big concern for families, which the USOC eases by providing two tickets to each game or event at no cost to the athlete or the family. We wouldn't be able to do it without them, and I can't imagine my family not being there to support me. M Taking The Show On The Road It Takes A Team Effort To Make Sure Olympic Families Can Support Their Athlete On The World Stage // by Brian Lester

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