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U.S. Olympian Lisa Chesson leading girls' hockey school

by Kristyn Repke / Columbus Blue Jackets

The 17 skaters in girls’ sessions at Blue Jackets Hockey School are learning from one of the best women’s hockey players in the country.

Lisa Chesson, a member of the United States women’s national hockey team, won a silver medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics and will represent the U.S. once again as a member of the 2014 Olympic team in Sochi, Russia. She won a World Junior gold medal in 2009 and also played NCAA Division I college hockey at Ohio State University.

Before any of those impressive accomplishments, Chesson started out just like several of the girls she is teaching at hockey school this week—participating in hockey camps and working on basic skills.

“This week, we’re just focusing a lot on skating and edgework more so than just the hockey aspect,” said Chesson. “The basics are just so important.”

The girls at Wednesday’s session were treated to a two special instructors for part of their session—Blue Jackets prospects Boone Jenner and Cody Goloubef. The two helped demonstrate drills, played games with the kids and signed autographs for the participants.

“Having them here was great,” said Chesson. “Any time we can get someone other than the usual coaches out there is exciting for everyone. The girls had a lot of fun.”

Every other day, Chesson leads the girls Hockey School sessions herself. The girls, ages 8 to 15, have similar backgrounds to what Chesson experienced growing up.

Chesson grew up in Illinois, where she was just one of three girls in her area playing ice hockey. Because there were very few girls’ teams, she often played with the boys’ teams or traveled far for games and practices. Chesson was even the only girl selected to skate in the boys’ varsity all-star game at the high school level in 2004.

After living in Columbus for the past seven years and volunteering with Blue Jackets Hockey School for a few years, Chesson is happy with the growth she has seen in women’s hockey in the area.

“It’s great to see it grow since the first time I came to help out,” said Chesson. “We had just a small handful of girls. Now, you see so many from real small girls to grown women pick it up and there’s even a AAA program in the area. It’s crazy to see how fast it’s grown in the past 10 years or so.”

Chesson realizes that she is a role model to the girls she mentors at Blue Jackets Hockey School because there are still so few women’s hockey players, and remembers being in their role not too long ago herself.

“I remember the first women’s Olympic team in 1998 and seeing them win the gold, and how excited I was to know that there was girls’ hockey beyond college,” said Chesson. “For me to be able to pass that on to the younger girls is a great experience.”

Chesson also hopes that the girls participating in Hockey School will in turn grow into her role one day and usher in the next era of women’s ice hockey.

“Thinking about all the girls I looked up to when I was growing up, what they shared with me and how much that helped me improve my game, it’s all I can do to give back to the younger girls and hope they do the same when they’re older.”

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