Mom story: I’m an Olympic hockey player
Four-time Olympian Jenny Potter, 33, of Anoka, Minnesota, who’s been playing women’s hockey with Team USA for 15 years, believes she still has more to give to the sport and is training for the 2014 Winter Olympics. When she’s not working out, playing hockey, traveling or helping other players with their skills, she’s hanging out with daughter Madison, 11, and son Cullen, 5. Read how she manages hockey and motherhood below.
by Jenny Potter
as told to Julie Weingarden Dubin
I started skating at age 2 at the outdoor rinks in the winter and playing hockey on a team when I was in 8th grade. I always wanted to get in the games that my dad was playing outside with the guys.
My husband, Rob, is a hockey coach and we run a summer training camp called Potter’s Pure Hockey for youth through elite level players. It's a high level training program for players who want to excel at hockey.
I’m training to make the next hockey Olympic team. During the summer, I get up at 4:30 a.m. to run with a group at 5 a.m. The day continues with skating and more working out. I’ll go to the pool or park and play with my kids and drive my daughter to swim practice. I'm exhausted by the end of the day.
Something to prove
When I was young, it wasn’t popular for girls to play hockey and I think it made me a better player to prove to men and boys all the time that girls can play hockey. It never fazed me growing up that there might be limits for me with hockey. I believed one day I was going to play in the NHL. I wanted to prove to everyone I could. I owe a lot of that to my dad. He was always there for me and he taught me a lot of what I know about hockey. (My mom taught him how to skate!)
Hockey’s been my dream that I worked hard for and continue to work hard for. I love that there are so many aspects to the sport: skating, stickhandling, shooting, playmaking and thinking. In my hockey career, I’m most proud of winning a gold medal, a National Championship and participating in four Olympics.
I never thought that having kids would slow down my hockey career. I knew I’d be back on the ice as soon as my babies were born. It was super difficult getting back in shape but I did it. I played in the World Championships eight weeks after giving birth with both of my children.
I worry about not spending enough time with my children, and I feel guilty when I'm away for a hockey event. I get help from my dad, sister, and mother-in-law, and Rob is great with the kids. I know that Madison and Cullen see how hard I work to play and they support me, even though it's hard for them. I love hockey and I still feel like I can contribute to the team in going for the gold.
Motherhood had taught me about patience and how there's more to life than money and fame. Family is the most important thing in life. I lost my mom to cancer in November 2011, just a few months before the Olympics and it was really tough. I’d do anything for my family.
I want to teach my children to work hard in life, be happy and treat people with respect. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes — it's what you do after the mistake that’s important.
I believe life gives you challenges and successes. You may not always like what you’re faced with, but the experiences make you a stronger person.