A winner of eight gold medals at the IIHF World Championships and two national championships with the Wisconsin Badgers, Knight stands at the top of the mountain in ice hockey. So much so that her hometown of Sun Valley in Idaho named an entire day (May 19th) Hilary Knight Day. That’s how you know you’ve made it.
The highlight of her career, however, may have come when she led Team USA to a gold medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics by defeating the mother nation of hockey, Canada, in a shootout. It was the USA’s second gold medal in women’s ice hockey, and first in 20 years. Canada had won every gold in between.
Now, Hilary is tasked with helping Team USA stay on top in Beijing, and we’re “betting” on her to put up numbers.
At five years old, Knight picked up a hockey stick and told her grandmother she would play in the Olympics. “Girls don’t play hockey,” her grandmother said, and at that point, well, she was right. Women’s hockey wasn’t introduced at the Olympics until 1998, a full 68 years after men’s hockey began and four years after Knight stated her goal.
After winning the gold in 2018, Knight delivered the medal to her grandmother, who had become her biggest fan. “One of my goals was to bring her the gold medal before she passed away, and I was able to do that. I’ll never forget the way she just held on to that medal. She wouldn’t want to take it off her neck,” Knight said.
In her days playing youth hockey, Knight was targeted with insults. Ice hockey was a “boys club” and Hilary was an unwelcome addition. That stuck with her.
In 2017, she helped organize a boycott of the World Championships, demanding an increase in pay for the U.S. Women’s National Team. In the end, USA Hockey agreed to increase the salary for players from what’s believed to have been $1,000 per month to as much as $4,000 per month, which, including bonuses, amounted to roughly $70,000 per year in team compensation.
Facing what will likely be her and final Olympic Games, Knight is ready to lead Team USA to repeat golds for the first time in the country’s history. After scoring a goal and an assist in both the quarters and semis, the assistant captain is on a heater heading into the gold medal game. The opponent? You guessed it, those pesky Canadians.
Canada bested Team USA in the round robin stage, 4-2, and won the most recent World Championships in August. The sportsbooks believe Canada will continue the winning streak as they’re a -220 favorite to win gold (bet $220 → $100). History has proven, however, that you can’t count Hilary Knight out. You can safely say that we’re Team Hil.
1. Because she wrote dope fantasy novels at five years old
Hey Pixar, you up?
2. Because her modes of transportation are inspiring
It looks like she’s riding a Pokemon
3. Because she hugs her dogs even when they don’t hug her back
Looks like me and my Italian mother
4. Because NO ONE wants to ever cook dinner
Just order a pizza like the rest of us
5. Because she fulfilled the promise to her grandma
Girls play hockey