In the Reality TV era, it is sometimes difficult to find positive role models for our daughters.
Well, Miley Cyrus and Kim Kardashian be damned! Meghan Duggan and Megan Bozek are my daughters’ inspirations.
Who, you ask?
Duggan and Bozek are members of the Women’s National Hockey Team headed to Sochi, Russia, next month to compete in the 2014 Olympics.
One veteran, one rookie. One forward, one defenseman. One local girl, one Chicago native. Two female hockey players, competing at the highest level on behalf of their country.
While celebrities serve up a steady diet of narcissism and vanity (“look at me, look at me!”), Duggan and Bozek offer just the opposite — quiet self-confidence and concern for others (except, of course, when they’re battling it out on the ice with arch-rivals Team Canada).
Unlike the men’s Olympic team, drawn from the rosters of the National Hockey League, the women’s team is composed of relative unknowns. Since August, they have practiced in relative obscurity at the Edge Sports Center in Bedford. No paparazzi here. Just blood, sweat, and tears — and an occasional autograph seeker from among the kids who practice at the Edge with their Wizards youth hockey teams.
At 26, Danvers native Meghan Duggan has accomplished far more than her dimples and youthful smile suggest. A star hockey player at the University of Wisconsin, Duggan earned a silver medal in Vancouver in 2010, then returned to Wisconsin her senior year to win the 2011 Patty Kazmaier Award for best female hockey player in the country. All this, and she somehow found time to volunteer coaching wheelchair hockey too.
Now, Duggan has her sights on the gold. But she still finds time to volunteer at local schools, youth practices and children’s hospitals.
The former captain of the undefeated Minnesota Gophers team that captured back-to-back NCAA championships (2012 and 2013), Bozek (who hails from the Chicago area) was a finalist for the prestigious Kazmaier award in 2013.
Like the veteran Duggan, rookie Bozek always makes time for community service. At Minnesota, she volunteered with a program called HopeKids for terminally ill children. For Bozek, serving others is not just an obligation to check off a list. It is a way of life.
One day, at the beginning of her last semester at Minnesota, Bozek noticed a blind man waiting to cross the street. Traffic was heavy, so Bozek took the man by the arm and helped him cross. After that, Bozek met the fellow at the same corner every Tuesday and Thursday and helped him cross the street. She didn’t do it because cameras were rolling. She did it because that is the type of person she is.
These are not things about which Duggan and Bozek brag. Self-promotion is not their style.
In a month, the eyes of the world will be on Duggan, Bozek and all of the women of Team USA. And while media coverage of the Olympics might make celebrities of some of them, it is unlikely to make any of these female hockey players come unhinged or lose sight of what’s important.
That is, in some respect, due to the nature of team sport, but also to the nature of hockey — a sport that builds character, grit, and humility from an early age. Duggan says hockey has taught her “what it means to be accountable to others; to work together toward a common goal.” These values are reflected in the team motto: “Team First.”
For female hockey players on Team USA, success is not about the individual. It’s about a cause greater than self. And that is something we can all admire.
Jennifer C. Braceras is a regular Herald contributor. Since August, Braceras has hosted Megan Bozek at her home while Bozek trains for the Winter Olympics in Sochi.