If you have a son or daughter that’s looking for some expert coaching, direction in their hockey career, then look no further than Karen Thatcher, 2010 Women’s Ice Hockey Silver Medalist and very decorated hockey player.
“I’ve been playing hockey since I’ve been five year’s old and it’s been such an integral part of my life. I have so much passion for the sport. I couldn’t think of anything better to do than coaching you people who are in the same position I was in,” said Thatcher.
Everybody can use a good coach. Even if you aren’t going to be a professional they teach you how to be a professional. I once attended basketball camp on Long Island, New York, there was one special guest who showed up one day, unannounced, and the man was then Iona coach, Jim Valvano. The late, great, “Jimmy V” as he was later known taught me to never give up on a play. Play all out, every time out there, be a “gym rat”. You know what that’s what I did and I became a better athlete and better at a lot of activities as a result.
“I have a group of 24-year-old guys coming in next week. Anybody who wants to come in I’m happy to work with. Friends recommended coach up to me and it’s been working out great for me,” Thatcher added.
The Blaine, Washington native was born in Bryn Mawr, PA, but moved quickly although she does have a love for hot pretzels and mustard that her mother attributes to that short time. Now retired, she’s looking out for her old mates in Sochi, Russia.
“A lot of people are excited about the Sochi, games. I’m thankful it’s working out in my favor right now,” said the former linemate of Jocelyne Lamoureux, who also pointed out in 2010 a Russian contingent was in Vancouver studying climate conditions and other things.
Food is always an issue for traveling athletes. Last year a few NHL draftees talked about bad food in Sochi so I know players have their secret food stash.
“When you’re competing you’re used to a very specific diet. In a different country the food can be so vastly different than what you’re used to,” Thatcher stated. U.S. athletes are really good at bring food with them. Peanut butter, plain oatmeal and protein powder, all together, done. If you’re lucky you can add cinnamon but when you’re overseas you do what you gotta do. In the Olympic village they do provide some good food there so athletes do have some options,” she said.
I asked what her greatest moment as a player was and she quickly answered, “Stepping on the ice the first time as an Olympian. That was a goal of mine since I was 7. The opening ceremonies was an incredible moment but stepping out on the ice made it real for me.
“When I was 7, I played for Assabet Valley a select team in Massachusetts and the U.S. team came back from the second World Championships and Laurie Baker and a few others came to our locker room before our practice and they showed us their medals and talked hockey. After that practice I told my dad I wanted to be an Olympian. I didn’t quite understand that women’s hockey wasn’t in the Olympics yet, but that was my dream (Women’s Olympic hockey started in 1998 in Nagano, Japan).
Without pioneers like Cami Granato, Angela Ruggiero and later Karen, where would the women’s program be today?
Note: Karen Thatcher, 2010 US hockey Olympian, seven year US National Team career and former D1 college coach. Karen is now adding private coaching to her resume with the help of CoachUp, a service that connected private coaches with athletes. Here’s her CoachUp profile: https://www.coachup.com/coaches/karent-2