Boston, MA --
|Mark Stuart, Phil Kessel, Alicia Sacramone, Tim Thomas and Blake Wheeler.
Standing on the ice for a ceremonial puck drop on Saturday afternoon, just seconds before the Boston Bruins took on the New York Rangers in an all-important Eastern Conference matchup, 5’1 Olympic gymnast Alicia Sacramone served as a good contrast to B’s captain Zdeno Chara
, a defenseman who stands tall at 6’9.
A native of Winchester, Mass. Sacramone is currently a Brown University student, but last summer the young woman captured the hearts of many American sports fans when she competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics and helped Team USA bring home a Silver Medal.
Growing up close to Boston, Sacramone, who has also thrown out the first pitch before a Red Sox game at Fenway Park, said she has always been a Bruins fan and was clearly excited for her chance to drop the first puck at the TD Banknorth Garden.
“My parents used to take me to Bruins games as a kid all the time,” she said. “I’m definitely a fan and I think we always had the games on (TV) at the house if we weren’t going.”
As an Olympic-level gymnast, Sacramone knows what it’s like to play a team sport and, believe it or not, she said the rough-and-tumble game of hockey and the austere physical beauty of the gymnastics world actually share a few similarities.
“I definitely think so,” said Sacramone. “They’re both team-oriented sports and that’s obviously one of the biggest comparisons.
“And it definitely takes dedication to do any sport so I think the motivation and drive that each athlete has to have -- that’s always similar for any athlete.
“But the team aspect is a big one,” she said.
Personally, Sacramone’s favorite moment in athletics came at the Beijing Olympics when she stepped out onto the floor for the first time.
“I think walking out to the first day of competition and just realizing that we were at the Olympic games was probably the highlight of most of [us],” she said. “So, I think just representing the United States and being over in China was awesome.”
When Sacramone arrived at the Garden she was given a Bruins home jersey, sporting Patrice Bergeron
’s number 37, and with her own last name spelled out on the back.
“Three has always just been my lucky number and seven’s my mom’s favorite number so I like that too,” said Sacramone with a big smile.
She may have picked 37 because three and seven are her favorite numbers, but she is also a fan of Bergeron.
“I met Patrice Bergeron
at a fundraiser for Children’s Hospital Boston and he was really cool and just to hear his story was kind of motivating for me,” she said. “He was really awesome.”
Sacramone certainly has fans in the Bruins locker room, as well.
Earlier in the day, the young woman took pictures with the Bruins US-born players – goalie Tim Thomas
, forwards Blake Wheeler and Phil Kessel and defenseman Mark Stuart – who would all relish the opportunity to represent the United States at next year’s Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Walking out towards the Bruins bench, Kessel mischievously pointed to Stuart and, trying to make the defenseman feel uncomfortable in front of the famous gymnast, said, “He’s a big fan.”
But that’s not all that shocking – it’s hard not to be a fan of Alicia Sacramone.