Special Assignment

Hockey: It isn't just a man's world

CREATED Feb 14, 2014 - UPDATED: Feb 14, 2014

  • Print
  • Play

DOUSMAN - The U.S. Women's Hockey Team in Sochi has some Wisconsin connections.  One of those is Brianna Decker.  

Brianna grew up in Dousman playing for local hockey clubs, and now she's hoping for Olympic gold.  Her path pitted her against the boys.  Her parents say even as a little girl she wanted to be an Olympian, but she had to overcome some obstacles to get there.  Her dad realizes, "Most boys aren't going to like it if the girl gets the best of them". 

At home, surrounded by brothers, her mom, Marilyn says she had to be a 'scrapper' just to survive.  "She'd be mad at one of them for hitting her with a stick. And I would say, 'Well don't play with them,' and what would she do...well she would go right back out there."  

Toughness became Brianna's motto.  There is home video showing Brianna at age 5, one of the few girls on the local hockey team.  Later, she went on to be a star player for the Badgers Women's Hockey Team.

It wasn't just hockey. Her mom shows us pictures, saying, "Here again she is the only girl on the football team." 

Starting at a very young age, Brianna was never afraid to push the envelope.  She played linebacker and running back.  All that tackling helped her succeed.

"Oh, I believe she would say it was worth it. 100 percent," Marilyn says.  She adds, "She's so passionate about it, its just what she has always dreamed of."  

Brianna's success helps the sport she loves.  Nina Andersen is a Junior at Homestead.  Nina says, "Everyone knows I play hockey because it is a non-traditional girls sport."  

She and teammate Rose Revolinski both started at a young age, following in their brothers' footsteps, just like Brianna.  They're not alone!  Rose says, "I think having a girls program really invites other girls to join."

Both girls play for the the University School Wildcats--a high school co-op team.  It's one of 33 in the state. 

"People oftentimes think I am very strong and tough, which is true, but I am still a girl," Nina explains.

The girls even practice against the boys.  You can tell them apart by the pony tails.  That's not the only difference.  "I think we think a little more on the ice than the boys do," Nina says

Nina and Rose are both impressed that a hockey player just like them found her way from their backyard, to the Olympic ice!

Brianna's mom will never forget the days of watching her young daughter mature from a kid to a grown woman on the ice.  She is so proud of where she is today.  "This is the Stanley Cup.  This is the highest they can ever go. To them, this is the top of their career."

The whole Decker family, including Brianna's brothers, went to Russia to support their 'scrappy' sister!