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Q&A with Meghan Duggan

Team USA's Meghan Duggan poses in front of hockey net during photo shoot

Q&A with Meghan Duggan

Meghan Duggan has chased Olympic gold ever since she watched her childhood heroes achieve greatness in 1998.

Where did you grow up?
Danvers, Massachusetts. 

What is your earliest memory of playing hockey?    
I remember pushing two stacked milk crates across the ice when I was three years old, learning to skate for the first time within the Danvers Youth Hockey learn to skate program.

US hockey forward Meghan Duggan as a kid playing hockey

Credit: Meghan Duggan

I used to look down the other end of the ice where the five year olds had sticks and got to skate around and play with a puck and I couldn't wait to learn to skate so I could play down that end. I have just always loved the sport so much and how dynamic it is. Hockey players are tough and blue collar. I love that it’s a team game. I love how fast and physical it is, and how it can change in an instant. It’s unpredictable and emotional. I’ve always been drawn to the competitive side of the game.

What is your first memory of watching the Olympics? 
I remember my parents letting me stay up late to watch the U.S. women win the gold medal vs. Canada in 1998 when women’s hockey was in the Olympics for the first time. 

Do you remember a “breakthrough” moment in your hockey career when you realized you could make it to the Olympic Games?
The first time I made the senior national team in 2007 and put on the Team USA jersey for the first time at the world championships in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I looked at my jersey, the crest on the front and said to myself, “you got yourself here, now work to stay here.” Since then, 10 years ago, I have made every team and tournament with the U.S. team. 

Who in your family has had the biggest influence on your life and athletic career? 
My parents are without question the most influential in helping me achieve my dreams. Getting me into hockey, and paying for all of the teams, leagues, tournaments, trips, equipment, etc. All throughout my youth days. Agreeing to send me to private school for high school to play for what was the best team in the area at the time. Supporting my decision to move to Wisconsin for University and play and live out there for 5-6 years. And their continued support via face to face, phone, facetime, skype, etc. during my entire national team/Olympic journey. They are always there to dry the tears of defeat or to drink out of the championship cup with me through the good and the bad, thick and thin, they are and will always be right by my side. My biggest fans.

Meghan Duggan poses with her parents Bob and Mary Duggan on the ice after winning world championships

Meghan with her parents, Mary and Bob Duggan. Credit: Courtesy Meghan Duggan

Within the hockey world, who has had the biggest impact on you?    
Gretchen Ulion (now Silverman) was a member of the 1998 team that won gold and I was able to meet her after she came back from that Olympics. She put her medal around my neck and I put her jersey on (I was 11 and have a photo of it) and from that moment forward I knew I was going to make it to the Olympics and play for Team USA, or at least I was going to do everything in my power to put myself in a position to do so.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?    
My grandfather used to say, “Advice is free, therefore worth nothing” before he told some old story for gave advice on anything under the sun. He always joked when he said that, basically saying - you don’t have to listen to anything I say. But since I’ve grown up and he’s passed - I learned to take it more like, “Advice is simple.” And if you open your ears to others, you can learn and get better. But it can be worth nothing if you don’t do anything about it, or don’t act on good advice.

What obstacles have you had to overcome in your life?    
Losing the gold medal in dramatic and heartbreaking fashion, in overtime, in Sochi in 2014.

How much time do you spend training each day?
Heaviest days 6-7 hours, lighter days are 2-3 hours.

What’s the most grueling workout you’ve ever done?
Any conditioning workout/challenge on the air dyne bike at IPF gym. Without question the hardest I have ever been challenged mentally and physically in the gym. One of those things that you “hate to love.”

Are there any training techniques you use that could be considered out of the ordinary or experimental?
Meditation and breathing is a huge part of my training and preparation. Not experimental but not necessarily everyone’s favorite thing to do. Always helps me prepare the most efficiently and set the intention for my workout.

What are some of your favorite workout songs?
“Team” by Krewella, “Say So” by Terror Jr, “Needed Me” by Rihanna, “Flawless” by Beyoncé, “False Alarm” by Matoma & Becky Hill.

Are there any misconceptions about women’s hockey you would like to clear up?
Most people think women’s hockey isn't physical or tough because technically we can’t body check. But anyone that has seen us play can attest to how physical each and every game is. Especially the ones between US and Canada!

What’s the coolest, weirdest or most intense thing about hockey that people don’t normally see?
No one except the team sees the in locker-room pregame rituals and handshakes between players. They're sacred, special, and superstitious but I love them so much, I love the ones I have and I love seeing my teammates engage in theirs.

What are your pre-game rituals?

Are you superstitious?    
Again, secret ;)

What is your biggest fear when competing?
Injury during competition.

Who is your most interesting teammate and why?
Kacey Bellamy because she writes poetry and I think that’s incredible. She has a super powerful and creative mind that not everyone see’s all the time but I think it’s extremely interesting.

Who are your biggest rivals? Is it friendly or contentious?
Canada is our team’s biggest rival and it is not friendly.

What is your favorite perk of being an Olympic athlete?
Traveling with my team!

So you like to travel? What’s been your favorite trip?
I love to travel! Favorite trip so far has been Ireland. I went there after the 2014 Olympics in June and trekked around the country with just a little car and a map. No phone, GPS, computer, etc. Stopped and stayed when I wanted. Met and talked with tons of strangers. Saw some pretty incredible views (Cliffs of Moher, etc.), and listened to fantastic authentic Irish music in some really cool pubs. 

Have you been to South Korea? What are you excited to experience in PyeongChang?
No, I have never been there. Just looking forward to learning about the culture and maybe trying some of the authentic Korean food!

Karaoke is popular in South Korea, do you like karaoke? What’s your go-to karaoke song?    
My go-to karaoke song is “Wide Open Spaces” by The Dixie Chicks.

Do you like any Korean foods?
I love kimchi!

What will success look like for you in PyeongChang?
Gold or bust.

Who is your Olympic role model? 
Cammi Granato, captain of Team USA [women’s hockey team] in 1998 and 2002 Olympics.

Where did you attend high school?
Cushing Academy, Ashburnham, MA

University of Wisconsin - Madison. Graduated with a BS in Biology in 2011, and played for four years for the UW Badgers and won three NCAA [National] Championships.

What are your favorite professional sport teams?
Patriots and Bruins fan to the core!! Go Boston!!!!

Do you have a celebrity crush?
Jennifer Aniston, Rachel McAdams, Ryan Gosling

If you are to indulge, what’s your favorite food, snack and dessert?
Vegetable pizza, homemade tortilla chips and salsa and homemade pastry.

Do you have any fears?

What’s something quirky about yourself that people would be amused to learn?
My mother is one of 10, has 5 brothers and 4 sisters, and we have close to 40 cousins on that side!

Do you have any special tattoos?
Celtic Trinity Knot: Got this tattoo with my brother and sister. It signifies “family for eternity.” It’s on my left rib area. Custom design with my best friend Erika Lawler: signifying our friendship, on my right hip. Olympic rings with “Land of the free, home of the brave” in color: on my back right flank.

US hockey forward Meghan Duggan showing off her Celtic tattoo

Meghan Duggan: Celtic Pride Credit: NBCUniversal

What do you think you would be doing if you were not playing professional and Olympic hockey?
I would own/operate my own wellness center. Focusing on health, fitness, wellness, etc. from a natural/homeopathic perspective. Lots of hands on work, nutrition tips, fitness classes, and alternative practices: Reiki, crania-sacral therapy, meditation, etc.

Do you work with any charities or youth organizations?
Special Olympics, Boys and Girls Club – did some visits with them through Team for Tomorrow with USOC – tons of local youth sports programs and schools.

Do you have a personal motto or inspirational quote?
“Ask yourself what is really important and have the wisdom and courage to build your life around the answer.”

What are your favorite movies?
"American President," "Love Actually" and "Lion"

Do you have any hidden talents?
I can sing. :)

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