It is fitting that all the medals won by the Olympians who were previewed by The Improper ended up being team medals. In talking with the athletes before the Winter Olympics in Sochi, they all lauded a collective effort, not simply from their teammates but rather from the people who surrounded them during their formative years in the Bay State.
Meghan Duggan, who captained Team USA to a bittersweet silver medal in women’s hockey, cited her many coaches, but a couple in particular: “When I was in mite instructional, my best friend’s parents coached us. They’re still two of my closest family friends at this point. Tim and Lois Hayes, they’re from Danvers. They’re husband and wife, and their son is my best friend, and they’ll claim that they taught me everything I know. But they did, and obviously you’re so vulnerable at that age and you can learn so much, and they really did a great job with me.”
Steve Langton helped the U.S. snap a 62-year streak with a bronze in the two-man bobsled and followed it up with a similarly dramatic bronze medal in the four-man bobsled on the final day of the Olympics. Langton said his parents were supportive of his athletic pursuits, from track at Northeastern to bobsled.
Emily Cook, who scored a Top 10 finish in the ski aerials event, said having the right support team was extremely important in coming back from an injury in 2002 that left her wondering if she’d walk again.
“It was kind of a matter of relying less sometimes on motivation and more on commitment, and then also surrounding myself with people who related to me that way. Making sure that the people around me were supportive of what I was doing. On those days that were really hard, those were the people who were rallying and supporting me so I could get there,” Coook said “It’s definitely not something I did on my own, but I think I developed the ability to work hard and overcome stuff during that injury. It’s not something I would ever take back. It’s something I’m incredibly grateful for, looking back today.”
Simon Shnapir, who captured a bronze in team figure skating, said that while his parents first got him on the ice, it was his coach who prodded him to compete in pairs.
“When I first worked with Bobby, our coach, I just skated as a singles skater. I wasn’t very good,” Shnapir said. “My coach was a pairs skater, and he got me into it. I loved it, and ran with it.”
Everywhere you looked on TV, there were stories of coaches and family who worked together to mold this current crop of Olympians, who then worked together with other Olympians to bring home medals and experience success on the world stage. It might take a village to raise a child, but all it takes is teamwork to raise an Olympian.