Almost all young athletes aspire to one day bring home a gold medal for his or her country. Recently, Taft students had an opportunity to meet an olympic gold medalist. Meghan Duggan, a member of the US Women’s National Hockey Team, made a visit to Taft to skate with the Girls’ Varsity Hockey team and deliver a morning meeting speech. After playing at University of Wisconsin, Duggan was selected for the 2010 US Olympic team. She later played in the 2014 Winter Olympics and more recently the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyongyang, where she and the rest of her team earned a gold medal, after two consecutive silver medals against rival Canada.
The Monday before Duggan’s speech, she practiced with the Girls’ Varsity Hockey Team. I asked a few of the girls on the team how it felt to skate with an Olympic athlete. Eva Witkowski ‘23 said that “it was a really good experience to learn from her wisdom mostly because she went through what we are going through now. She was really pushing the team and inspiring us to be the best we could be”. Jenna Guglielmi ‘23 said that “it was awesome having her there because it let us know that we could one day do that, too. She emphasized the importance of hard work and the ability to adapt to change. It was really cool having an Olympian telling us that the hard work pays off”.
Girls’ Varsity Hockey coach Gretchen Silverman agreed that the girls on the team benefitted from Duggan’s coaching. “Meghan was an inspiration on the ice with our team, and everyone had an extra jump in their step during the drills she ran for us,” Silverman noted. Duggan also encouraged the team to “compete every day in practice and to make no apologies on the ice for pushing each other and for holding each other accountable”, which Silverman agrees is an “important message for all female athletes”. Silverman said the team “made a significant leap forward last week in [their] play, and [she] has to draw a link between that growth and Meghan’s message to the team”.
Duggan addressed Taft on Tuesday, reflecting on her lifelong dream and road to success. Duggan’s passion for hockey quickly turned into a dream for a gold medal after watching the 1998 Women’s National Hockey Team win gold, the team that Gretchen Silverman played on. She vividly remembers staying home and skipping school to watch the games. She noted its impactfulness as it was the first time women’s hockey was in the Olympics and shared that Silverman played an important role in her dream of winning the gold.
Her team used the phrase “leave no doubt” as something to motivate them during every practice and every game. After a devastating loss against Canada in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, Meghan asked herself “did I really do everything I could to be ready?” Devastatingly, the answer to herself was no. Duggan revitalized the phrase “leave no doubt”, which interestingly enough was a major motivator for the team in 1998 when Silverman was playing, and it quickly became the mantra of the team. The 2018 team used “leave no doubt” as a reminder to fully commit in and outside of practice towards a total effort of winning gold.
Duggan’s message is important because it reminds us as a school that we can constantly improve in what we do. Even when you are the best of the best (like an Olympic athlete), but fall short of your goal, it requires internal reflection and the ability to ask yourself the hard question: Did I really do everything I could? Duggan reminded us all to be humble, to work hard, and most importantly set goals because, as Duggan said, “you cannot achieve a dream if you never create one.”