When Kraken pro scout Cammi Granato and her USA women's hockey teammates were competing and winning a gold medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, both Julie Chu and Tamae Satsu were watching closely and drawing inspiration.
Chu was home in the U.S. as a 15-year-old teen practically glued to the television while Satsu, a Team Japan goalie who trained with the national team, admired Granato close up. It was the first-ever women's hockey tournament at the Olympic Games and Granato was team captain of an American team pursuing the iconic gold medal.
To mark Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, the Kraken invited each of these three women to join in a Zoom panel to discuss a wide range of topics: how to grow the sport among Asian youth players and fans; the inspirational impact of the Nagano 1998 Winter Olympics on women's hockey; growing up a girl playing hockey with boys; the popularity of hockey in Japan and lots more.
The panel discussion explores how hockey can be a vehicle for social change, especially how to grow the game among Asians and other youth and adult players and fans of color. It affords Granato a chance to praise Japan as a host country rather than answering the more common question of what it was like to win the first-ever women's hockey Olympic gold.
Chu, the most decorated American women's hockey player with five World Championship gold medals and four Olympic appearances, explains how hockey transformed her life. Satsu talks about being a Seattle Kraken season-ticket holder and becoming a local success story as an aerospace and aeronautical interior designer. Satsu also reveals an entertaining bit of facing Granato on a scoring chance and its unforgettable outcome.
All three panelists discuss adversity they faced growing up as female hockey players in an era when girls playing hockey was not the norm. Chu and Satsu discuss the additional challenge of playing hockey as Asian females.
Chu, Satsu and Granato all share stories about overcoming obstacles and odds to become prominent female hockey players, plus talk about the excitement of the Kraken's inaugural season. Satsu expressed amazement that she was part of the panel with such accomplished international players. But as one of the 32,000 depositors who helped Seattle earn an NHL franchise, Satsu has notched her own place in Seattle hockey history.