The more I’ve worked on this story with Genny Knowles the more I comprehend its impact. First on myself - I’m thrilled to work with an organization that’s sending someone to the Olympics. Sure, we’ve put hockey players in the NHL, we’ve got famous tennis athletes competing all over the continent, and we’ve got a swim team that’s making waves every season.
But this is the Olympics.
And Genny Knowles will be there in Pyeonchang in 2018 to represent Korea between the pipes.
Here’s the first part of my interview with Genny as she starts her journey. Though as she tells it, being named to the team is just one small step on her path - a path that began at the North Shore Winter Club.
Kelvin: Tell me about the announcement and how the Olympic dream became reality.
Genny: I’ve been playing hockey at Lawrenceville Prep School for a couple years and in the summer of my sophomore year I went to the Yale prospects training camp. My mom had been in contact with Jessica Kizumi at Yale at the time. She saw me at the camp and she heard I was Korean, so she connected us with Sarah who asked us to come to Korea in August to see how my game stacked up. And they liked what they saw fortunately enough.
I went back to school and they invited me back to Korea to play a couple games in their winter league. Then they invited me to tag along with the team during their training camp in Minnesota which was just incredible. I met their goalie coach Rebecca Baker, she’s so awesome. She’s the goalie coach for the Riveters where Sojung Shin, the first Korean goalie, plays. Great person.
After Minnesota I was just training. I was working with a couple goalie coaches, Sean Murray, and a Korean coach, John, based out of Richmond. So lots of training while I was waiting to hear about the next opportunity from Korea. Then I got an email saying they were going to have a goalie evaluation camp in April right after their world championships, which was great because they won. So the training camp was difficult and such a great experience, I love a challenge but it was tough. The competition was stiff but the girls were super friendly. After that it was 10 painstaking days filled with anxiety. All the coaches wanted to make sure they were making the right decision.
And then the call came, which was on my birthday.
Your birthday? Seriously?
(Laughs) Yep! It was a pretty good birthday. I was very anxiety-ridden. Just super nervous. But when I heard the news it was amazing to say the least.
What did they say when they called you? How do you get told you’re going to the Olympics?
They started the conversation by saying they appreciated me coming to Korea, to Minnesota, for paying for the whole thing out of your own pocket.
That doesn’t sound promising.
Nope. But then they said we want you on Team Korea. And then I freaked out. I never once in a million years thought I’d get this opportunity and all of a sudden here it was. I’m still kind of in shock, I haven’t totally processed it. It was great. It was awesome. I probably won’t process it until I actually go through the whole process.
But yeah, I had tears in my eyes. There’s lots of logistical things to think about now, where the imports go, how to get back, when to get back.
And yeah, then there’s the Olympics. I’m going to the Olympics.
Next week in Part 2 with Genny: “My mom just wanted something to take both kids off her hands for a few hours since she was always so busy…”