We Talked to Hilary Knight, a Player in the First Ever National Women's Hockey League

By Hilary Knight, 26, power forward for the U.S. Women's National Team and the Boston Pride, one of four teams in the new National Women's Hockey League, now in its first season.

When I was 5, I began taking ice-skating lessons at a rink near Chicago. One day, I saw older kids with hockey sticks and thought, I want to do what they're doing! I started as soon as I could. I loved the feeling of speed — of being able to go faster than my feet could take me. I loved the cool air rushing through my helmet. I was so infatuated with the sport, my parents would have to drag me off the ice.

In middle school, I decided to get serious about hockey. Becoming an Olympian was my guiding passion, and at 17, I made the U.S. team. Skating onto Olympic ice in Vancouver in 2010 nearly knocked me off my feet — I was so excited to be there. I remember thinking, Calm down. You’re smiling too much.

We wanted to win a gold medal that year, but as a team, we were young and didn’t have enough experience. When I prepared for the Sochi Olympics four years later, the idea of bringing home a gold medal was what motivated me through my workouts every day. We won silver, and even though it was an amazing accomplishment, I felt heartbroken. Going for gold still fuels me every day.

Another passion of mine is putting women's hockey on the map as paid professional work. After college, I had an opportunity to play men’s professional hockey in Europe. But I knew if I did it, I'd leave behind my dream of a professional league for women. So I decided to stay. I needed to.

In the spring, I joined the new National Women's Hockey League, and season one began in October. Every time I step onto the ice, I want to be the best player there. I love that so many girls will grow up seeing me play — and I hope it inspires them to become players, too.

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Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images for USOC