Molly Schaus seeks gold, completion of full-circle journey in Sochi
For U.S. women’s Olympic hockey goalie Molly Schaus, the chance of winning a gold medal in Sochi represents more than just a chance to lift her country to the top of the medal podium for the first time since 1998.
It’s also an opportunity for her to come full circle from her childhood in the suburbs of Chicago, where as a nine year old, she worshipped the members of the 1998 U.S. team that won gold medals in women’s hockey’s debut at the Olympics.
For Schaus, a silver medalist at the 2010 Olympics, putting a gold medal around her neck this February would mark the full-circle completion of her 16-year journey because, in 1998, she wore an actual Olympic gold medal in memorable fashion two months after the Nagano Games ended.
“I happened to live in Naperville, Illinois, which was across from Downers Grove, where (1998 U.S. women’s captain) Cammi’s (Granato) from,” says Schaus, now a 25-year-old Boston College graduate.
“My dad was on the town council, and was always involved, and had put together this 'Get High on Life' thing that was an anti-drug rally in town. We were looking at speakers, and I wanted to get Cammi Granato to come.
“I believe I wrote an ‘actual’ letter, and my mom went through the phone book – this ‘was’ 1998 – and I think my mom called a couple Granatos to find the right ones, and the right address. I think we went through a few (different Granatos) before we got the right ones.
“Somehow, she responded and said ‘absolutely’. When she came, I got to introduce her in front of the whole school, wear her medal and share that experience with her.”
Along with making Schaus the envy of her school – she was the only student who got to wear Granato’s Olympic gold medal – Granato, a high-scoring forward and 2010 inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame, also gave the eventual goalie some lasting advice.
“She was very gracious, very warm and welcoming,” says Schaus of Granato. “She just said: ‘Have fun, work hard, believe in yourself and follow your dreams.”
Sixteen years later, it’s pretty safe to say that Schaus has followed Granato’s advice.
After her childhood mostly spent in Illinois, Schaus moved to Massachusetts as a teenager to play high school hockey at Deerfield Academy, which is the same prestigious boarding school that once graduated several generations of the Rockefeller family.
From there, Schaus moved on to Boston College, where she became the school’s all-time winningest goalie, and a two-time nominee for the Patty Kazmaier Award as women’s college hockey’s top player.
These accolades led her to being named to her first Olympic roster in 2010, where along with capturing a silver medal, she gained notable perspective on just how far she had come from her days as an elementary-school letter writer.
“Now, being on the other side of things after Vancouver, I receive mail from little kids,” says Schaus.” It’s so much more important for me to respond because I was that kid doing the same thing.
“It’s fun to go full circle.”
Well, Schaus hasn’t quite completed her full circle just yet. Because 'that' would require winning a gold medal in Sochi.
But still, close to a full circle.
Embedded owg_slideshow: Get to know the faces of the U.S. women's hockey team