Former Olympian Lisa Brown-Miller thrilled with growth in women’s hockey
HOLLAND – Once people found out Lisa Brown-Miller was a gold medalist American Olympian, and once they realized she was not a gymnast or figure skater, but rather a member of the 1998 United States women’s hockey team, the most common question is sure to pop up.
“Where do you keep your gold medal? “
Alex, his 11-year-old son, saw the United States men’s hockey team overthrow the host of Canada at the Olympics last weekend, and his attention also turned to the gold medal of his mother.
“He asked me to take out the gold medal because he hadn’t seen it in a while,” she said. “I took it out and we watched it. I think it got it all. There’s the Olympics on TV. Mum was part of it. She won a gold medal.”
Morgan, Brown-Miller’s 9-year-old daughter, also quickly understands it.
“It’s a really fun time to talk to them about it,” said Brown-Miller, from Union Lake who has lived with her children in Holland for 10 years.
“To be honest, it brings a lot of memories. It took several years to realize what we had done, the power of it, the impact it had on women’s hockey and women’s hockey.
What: Member of the United States Women’s Olympic Team in 1998, which won the gold medal in Nagano, Japan.
Hometown: Union Lake
High school: West Bloomfield, where she played hockey, basketball and softball.
University: Providence College (1988), where she was a three-time all-conference forward and Eastern College Athletic Conference player of the year in 1988 (92 career goals, 62 assists).
To live: Played forward on six US Women’s National Teams (1990-97 for 30 games with 13 goals, 25 assists), was MVP of the 1992 National Team and was named to four US Women’s Select Teams -United.
Framing: Head coach at Princeton (1991-96), winning two Ivy League titles and winning Ivy League Coach of the Year (1991-92) with a career record of 60-45- 5.
Today: Mother of two and academic quality assistant at the National Heritage Academies head office in Grand Rapids.
Brown-Miller, 43, an academic quality assistant for the National Heritage Academies’ Grand Rapids headquarters, plans to gather the kids in front of the television Thursday night to watch the American women take on Canada for the gold medal at the Olympic Games in Vancouver.
The former Providence College star and Princeton coach marvels that the current women on the team remember watching his team and growing up dreaming of playing hockey at the Olympics.
“The current team, they were about 10 years old, and they looked at us,” she said. “I think about how we became role models in the sports world for them. We didn’t have that, at least women in hockey. We watched videos of Bobby Orr. It’s empowering to see this. team go for gold with the whole world watching. “
In 1998, girls and women had been playing hockey for several years across the world. The World Championships began in 1990, and in 1992 the International Olympic Committee approved women’s hockey as an Olympic sport from 98.
Brown-Miller was 32, a six-team veteran, skating her final year in international competition.
“We were trailblazers, but we didn’t really know it,” said Brown-Miller, who worked as a color television commentator at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City.
“We were in Japan, on the other side of the world, wide-eyed, and everything was very, very different. People would tell us that at home we were talking about the Olympics, but it was hard to believe for us. No one had cared about us before. No one had ever paid attention. “
Brown-Miller, a small (5-foot-1, 128-pound) and quick forward, helped her 98 team win six games without a loss or a tie at the Nagano Olympic hockey tournament. They outscored their opponents 36-8 in all six games, and the series included two wins over rival Canada, including a 3-1 victory in the final.
The performance created a major buzz in American sports about women’s hockey for the first time. A team visit to the White House followed. A photo of the team also appeared on a Wheaties box. In 2009, the entire team was inducted into the American Hockey Hall of Fame.
And a legacy lives on.
A recent report on NHL.com indicated that USA Hockey’s female registrations increased 50 percent in 2000 after the 1998 games, and that continues to grow.
A total of 28,346 women were registered with USA Hockey in 1997-98, or before the Games. This season, before the Games, 59,506 are registered.
“It was truly a monumental moment in hockey for girls and women,” said Brown-Miller, who helps the Grand Rapids Area Hockey Association when she can and meets her competitive needs by participating. to road races.
“The impact was huge, and yet we were just a group of 20 athletes with a group goal to take the gold. All the other stuff was peripheral, a bonus, a ripple effect.”