Lisa Chesson is making her Olympic debut in Vancouver, after playing at the 2009 World Championships. She spent the 2008-09 season with the women's residency program in Blaine, her first with the national team. In her world championship debut, she helped the U.S. to gold over Canada, scoring a goal and two assists in five games. She played four years at Ohio State University, finishing in 2007-08, and has one year of school left there.
One of the guys
Growing up, Chesson played on boys' teams, as well as a few girls' teams later on. But even in high school, she was still playing on some boys' teams. It was at that point that Chesson started to realize "Growing up you don't really know the difference," she said, "but in high school the guys were a lot bigger than me." The rules permitted contact, but it was often after the whistle that she was hit. "Some of the guys would go after me. But my team was good about protecting me." Now that she only plays with women, Chesson prefers those rules. "They don't let us check, but it gets pretty gritty. There's a lot of hitting."
After the Olympics, Chesson plans to return to Ohio State to finish her degree. She chose the school because it had the two things she wanted: hockey and a meteorology program. Chesson isn't sure exactly what field she wants to pursue, but she is majoring in meteorology and looks forward to returning to college as a "real student," without sports to worry about. She still plans to fit hockey in her schedule, but with the focus on school instead of the other way around.
Figuring it out
Chesson's parents first signed her up for figure skating, but she didn't like it. "I begged them to let me play hockey because my brother and my dad played," she said. "I always wore my brother's hockey sweats to the figure skating lessons and cried at all the competitions." They eventually relented, and Chesson started at about age 5. Her dad didn't start playing until he was older, but she and her brother, Phillip, often watch his men's league games. Lisa and Phillip played on the same team a few times, and she says he and the other guys looked out for her. Phillip played in juniors and at Robert Morris University in Chicago, but was sidelined by a broken ankle.
As the pilot for the USA-1 bobsled, I broke a 62-year gold medal drought when my sled, the 'Night Train" won the Olympic title at the 2010 Vancouver Games. A degenerative eye condition nearly caused me to quit my sport in 2008, but corrective surgery restored my vision to 20-20.