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Hilary Knight Featured in ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue 2014

07/08/2014, 8:30pm MDT
By USA Hockey

Check out the online exclusive with Olympian Hilary Knight from ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue 2014 below. Published on ESPN.com

It's amazing what a little button can do. When you're younger, you're always slipping, and if you could make it across the ice sheet and back, you'd get this little button which you fasten to your laces. So I remember being like, "OK, I really want all the buttons."

It's this bulldozer effect on the ice. I noticed that if I'm 185 pounds or more [as I was for the Olympics], I get this crazy power-forward mentality and no one can stop me. I definitely still felt feminine at 185. I just jumped right in and took hold of being proud and happy with being a female athlete.

I caught someone's sunglasses on a roller coaster once. It was somewhere in Ohio -- Cedar Point or something like that -- one of those thrill rides. A few cars up, someone's sunglasses had fallen off, and we were on one of those corkscrew parts, and I saw sunglasses and just instinctively grabbed them right out of the air. I was like, "Oh, my reaction time is really good. This is going well."

I want to be a player that you have to watch. I think it speaks volumes when you are able to be in the back of the other team's mind. Knowing that every time No. 21 steps on the ice -- that's a player you're going to want to watch because something great is going to be created.

I developed this monster presence mantra. It's this power force that's super strong and is something that the women's game hasn't seen for a few years.

I had this idea that muscular isn't feminine. There is this image of athletic women as small and petite -- the yoga body type. Women in general, we tend to shrink ourselves and not have as much confidence as we should in presenting ourselves and our body types. It's OK to be fit and healthy and comfortable within your body, whatever frame you have. Since gaining 15 pounds to be at the top of my sport [for the Olympics], I've tried to shatter the body image that muscular isn't feminine.

I'm totally different off the ice. I almost think of it as a transformer. You've got this normal car, and then all of a sudden you have to transform into this monster car complex in order to save the world. I like the superhero analogies.

Goblet squats are probably my favorite thing to do for training. For a goblet squat, you hold either a kettlebell or dumbbell with your palms facing up, so you're sort of cupping it palms up and you're in a squat position and you're literally just bending down and pretending as if you're sitting in a chair and you're going to explode up with your feet still on the ground.

I'm big into fire-cupping. The benefits, both physically and mentally, got me addicted. Think of just a jar, almost like a goldfish jar, on your skin. It looks like a pockmark because it's pulling your skin into the jar. You may have a bruise or it might just be swelling in the muscle, and by cupping that area, it picks up the tissue and lets more blood flow to the area, more oxygen, and cuts your recovery time. After you pull the cups off, it looks like you have a bunch of hickeys all over your body. It's an interesting kind of look -- kind of like a leopard.

I love being a part of a team sport. I know my responsibility to each one of my teammates, and they know theirs to me. It's sort of this symbiotic effort of trying to work together to achieve whatever goal we're trying to achieve. You have to be selfless in your training because you're a part of something that's bigger than yourself. Being surrounded by great women and amazing role models and good teammates allowed me to unfold and evolve into the person that I am today.

I think it's pretty cool to be an elite athlete. I'm able to be able to achieve certain things that others aren't -- whether it's a reaction time or the idea of a coffee that's about to be spilled and I'm able to grab it before anyone else or whatever it is. So I think that's a pretty unique and cool thing.

I don't have to grow up. I wear yoga pants and get to work out all the time -- it's my job. I feel a little bit different when I go into what I call "the real world." It's cool to be able to train as a full-time job, and it's something that I love and will continue to try to make work for the next however many years.

One time we had to swim in a pool with sweatsuits on. It's a lot harder than it sounds. With the water weighing you down, you feel like you're going to drown ... you're swimming for dear life. But somehow everyone survived.

If one of my teammates gets roughed up, I'm going to step in. I have this protective mentality. I think just being bigger, some of the other girls are definitely intimidated by that presence. It's this physical presence but also this emotional, mental sense as well that I'm able to bring to the table.

I'm a huge believer in leading by example. If you see someone battle in the corner and come up with the puck, you get really excited as a teammate, knowing that they're giving their all. I hope that inspires other teammates and motivates them for the next shift.

For more visit ESPN The Magazine Body Issue

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Integrity and accountability is paramount

02/17/2017, 11:15am MST
By Matt Leaf - USA Hockey Director of Officiating Education

Nobody ever said that officiating—especially officiating ice hockey—was easy. Rule knowledge, communication skills, fitness, skating and a natural presence are just some of the abilities necessary to be a successful official. Some possess more of these skills, and those are the officials who advance to higher levels. But regardless of the level achieved or the skill set the official possesses, the one quality that should be equal among every official is a high level of integrity.

The USA Hockey national office staff members, along with our volunteer referees-in-chief and local supervisors, have heard growing concerns over a decreasing level of personal pride among our youth hockey officials. It’s sometimes said that no one is holding them accountable. A portion of this perception is likely a typical “blame-the-officials” mentality, but some anecdotal evidence suggests there is also some merit to this concern. That’s alarming to USA Hockey, as it affects the credibility of our entire program, along with every member it represents. The blunt truth is this: Even one official who isn’t on the up and up can and will damage the credibility of all officials who take pride in the integrity of their work.

Whether we like it or not, officials are under a microscope, and by the nature of the business, are held to a very high standard. When we signed up for this officiating gig, we committed ourselves to represent the game of hockey, USA Hockey, our local group of officials and ourselves as people of integrity who accept the responsibility and guardianship of enforcing the rules in a fair and consistent manner. Most importantly, we must remember that the game is bigger than all of us and that the game itself is what we serve. Those who lose sight of that not only compromise the competitive fairness of the games, they also make life more difficult for all of the officials by damaging the credibility of the officiating community.

The concerns that come forward range from an overall lack of effort to continued misapplication of the rules to a blatant targeting of an individual player/coach in abuse of power situations.  Granted, calls and emails received are generally taken with a grain of salt, but after some further investigation, there are many cases where the complaints have merit.  We expect players and coaches to be responsible for the equipment they wear, for their actions on the ice and for upholding sportsmanlike behavior at all times. The officiating community must also be held accountable for those areas that put into question the professionalism and the integrity of our team.

No one has ever demanded perfection from our officials, nor does USA Hockey place that expectation on us. But we do expect our officials to know the rules, give 100 percent effort on the ice, regardless as to the level of the game, and maintain a level of integrity that can never be questioned.

Officials should hold themselves accountable in these areas and acknowledge when a mistake is made, learn from it and do what is necessary to make sure the same mistake does not happen again. At the same time, local officiating leadership has to lead by example and set the tone for accountability and, unfortunately, failure at this level is what does the most damage to the game and our credibility. 

When the officials that everyone is supposed to look up to can’t meet these expectations, it trickles down and minimizes the potential for success for any official in that area. It is here where the affiliates, local supervisors of officials and local leagues must take a vested interest in the success of the game and officiating by establishing clear expectations and then holding those officials who refuse to meet those expectations accountable for their actions. This can be done through continuing education, game fee fines or possibly even suspension.

Fortunately, these types of officials are few and far between, but they do exist and to simply stick our heads in the sand and not address the concern is irresponsible. Each of us, as officials, has an obligation to behave in a professional manner at all times and take our role seriously. We made a commitment to approach each game with the understanding that the game is about the players, and we should be invisible until the players require us to appear as a result of infractions that occur. Respect is a two-way street and simply putting on the sweater with the USA Hockey crest suggests respect is warranted, but it must be supported by your actions.

USA Hockey has an obligation to create a non-threatening environment that promotes respect for officials and an opportunity for officials to improve through education and evaluation. USA Hockey does this through playing rules, points of emphasis, zero-tolerance policies and comprehensive education programs for officials, coaches, parents and players.

In return, the game expects USA Hockey officiating members to bring a professional image to every contest and an attitude that creates a positive environment and makes the game better. We realize everyone makes mistakes – it’s part of the game. However, laziness or unprofessional behavior is unacceptable and being creative in rule enforcement and not holding players/coaches accountable for infractions will only make the next team of officials’ jobs much more difficult and set them up for failure.

The reality is that the game official must always hold themselves to the highest level of integrity and behavior both on and off the ice. That is the expectation we are required to meet.

As we finish off the 2016-17 season, ask yourself if you are willing to meet that expectation and if you have been doing so throughout the season. If the answer is no, the off-season would provide a great opportunity to reflect on whether officiating is worth continuing for you.

Hockey Week Across America brings all officials together

02/17/2017, 11:30am MST
By USA Hockey

Many of us imagine what goes on in a locker room before a National Hockey League game. The strategic talk, the rituals with putting on equipment, the catching up with league business. It’s the place where some of the best athletes prepare for the physical, mental and emotional battle of a game. In some cases, a team has the advantage of home turf. In other cases, a team has the challenge of unfamiliar ice. However, in yet another case, a team has the challenge of never having a home game.

NHL officials are sometimes acknowledged as the third team on the ice. While they never worry about wins or line-changes, they still use their pre-game time to prepare physically and mentally. It’s the time when they leave their personal to-do lists and family matters behind and work together to make sure each member of the team is ready to get into position, execute sharp judgment and support each other when a partner gets blocked out from play.

So how do the officials prepare? Twenty-six grassroots USA Hockey officials will find out this month during USA Hockey’s 10th annual Hockey Week Across America. During Hockey Week, the entire country will celebrate the success, passion and everything great about the American hockey community. This includes the Meet the NHL Officials program.

We connected with BJ Ringrose, coordinator of the USA Hockey Officiating Program, for a Q-and-A about the Meet the NHL Officials initiative.

USA Hockey: What exactly is the Meet the NHL Officials program?

BJ Ringrose:
This program offers the opportunity for young, grassroots USA Hockey officials to meet NHL officials before a game in their dressing room, and then stick around to watch them work.

USA Hockey: That sounds like a great opportunity for these kids.

Ringrose: Absolutely. Officials are no different from players. They develop heroes and mentors among the referees at the higher levels of the game. They watch an NHL, NCAA or USHL game and think, “I want to be that guy!” The Hockey Weekend program gives them a chance to meet their heroes in a familiar informal setting and ask the NHL officials questions about their paths to success and how to advance.

USA Hockey: Have you ever received any feedback from the NHL officials about these meetings?

Ringrose: We correspond a lot with the NHL and NHL Officials Association leading up to Hockey Weekend and we usually get a quick note from some of the officials after the meeting thanking us for the opportunity, and expressing how great the kids are. For the NHL officials, this meeting reminds them of the grassroots levels they developed their craft in.

The NHL officials have shown a lot of support for this program and we appreciate everything the league and officials do to make this opportunity happen.

USA Hockey: So the program is basically a short meeting with the officials and then a free ticket to the game. Is there anything else

Ringrose: In addition to the league and officials, the various host NHL teams have really embraced this program. A lot of them are expanding the program to include tours of the arena, media room and video replay booth. Others are asking the kids to bring their skates and uniform and allowing them to participate in the pre-game skate and anthem.

USA Hockey: So these young officials are allowed to stand with their heroes at center ice during the National Anthem in front of thousands of fans?

Ringrose: Yes, one referee even brought the kids over to the home-team bench for a quick pre-game word with the coach. The head coach shook hands with them; that was fun to watch.

USA Hockey: It’s amazing how much access to an NHL game these kids get to experience.

Ringrose: It’s potentially a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build serious dedication to officiating in these young referees. While the mentoring and other features of these events are great, the underlying goal is to develop a lifetime official who will give back to the USA Hockey game regardless of what level he or she reaches.

USA Hockey: OK, we’re sold. How do people get a chance to participate?

Ringrose: This year we introduced an online nomination system that allowed parents, officials, assignors, supervisors or anyone to nominate a young grassroots official for this opportunity. In the past, the participants were selected by the local USA Hockey officiating supervisors in the NHL markets. However, this online nomination system has opened up the opportunity for more kids to be considered.

USA Hockey: So what happens to the nominations?

Ringrose: They are forwarded to the district referees-in-chief of the respective officials. The district RIC’s work with their support staff to learn more about the kids and decide who would benefit most from the opportunity. They consider age, experience, attitude, professionalism and officiating goals. Once they identify the participants, they pass me the names and I begin coordinating with the league and teams.

The nomination system for 2018 Hockey Weekend Across America will re-open in October 2017. Please
CLICK HERE for more information.

Week 24

02/17/2017, 6:00am MST
By USAH Ask the Official

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