photo: USA Hockey

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Jenny Schmidgall-Potter

Potter Get's Player of Year Award.

USA Hockey hosted its 2010 Annual Congress from June 10, through June 13, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Colorado Springs, Colo. The four-day event is USA Hockey's business meeting but also a time to celebrate the year's accomplishments which includes two dinners to honor those who have contributed to the success of USA Hockey.

Jenny Potter, Team USA’s national team veteran will receive the Bob Allen Women's Player of the Year presented by Qwest Communications.

Potter is the most senior member of the U.S. Women's National Team and U.S. Olympic team, She was one of Team USA's most dynamic offensive threats throughout the 2009-10 season. Potter logged 11 points (6-5) in five games at the Olympic Winter Games, setting a U.S. Olympic single-tournament record along with Natalie Darwitz. Her 32 career points (11-21) at the Olympics is the highest in U.S. history. Potter also became the first woman in Olympic history to collect two hat tricks. As part of the U.S. Women's National Team, Potter averaged better than a point per game and finished third on Team USA in points (23). She also recorded her 200th career point on Dec. 12,2010.

The Olympics and the Ellen Show.

Jenny Schmidgall-Potter plays for the Minnesota Whitecaps in the Western Women’s Hockey League. She won silver in the 2010 Olympics for Team USA and will play in the upcoming Clarkson Cup. Elizabeth Etue did a Q/A on March 12, 2010.)

What did you take away from these Olympic games?
It was my 4th Olympics. It is tough. I thought about how much I sacrificed and my family sacrificed. And how so many things came together. You represent your country and the Olympics. You are growing as a person. Our team was great on and off the ice…we developed deep friendships. We worked with a staff person, not exactly a sports psychologist to have an atmosphere that was relaxed and encourage us to be comfortable with who you are. I got more comfortable with who I am off and on the ice. It made me more confident. I realized my potential as a veteran who could contribute.

Is this your last Olympics or will you wait to make that decision?

I get that question a lot. For women it is hard. Four years is a long time. Financially it is hard to get by, those questions you ask as a family. My daughter in school, my son is getting older… my husband and I haven’t sat down …. We have been so busy since I got back. We were in a tournament and now I am driving to Rochester for my daughter’s swim meet.

What was one of the fun things that happened to the team?

We were on Ellen show. Whole team was on the show minus 4 players. She interviewed the team and we shot some soft pucks into the audience. The team was dancing and we walked through the crowd. She is super cool, laid back. We were on the show by satellite earlier in the Olympics. If we won she said she would have us on the show for sure. Before the Olympics, my team mate Gigi Martin printed off an Ellen face and said the team were fans and sent it to the Ellen Show then they sent us a flag…so we brought Ellen with us to the Olympics. We all love Ellen. It was something I never expected to do.

How important is the Clarkson Cup and Western Women’s Hockey League for you?
The league is huge. Last year was one of the most fun years…best hockey I have played. We need more of it. Very competitive…big challenge after college to find a place to play. Last year was awesome…the Western League is struggling… not sure of the exact number of teams going forward.

Any thoughts on a pro league?
A pro league is tough. The game is still growing…I am not sure. Don’t think there is a base there. Level needs to be higher. From 1 to 20 players on each team, needs to be higher. Clarkson Cup has 4 really good teams. Lots of Olympic players. More to pick from after college. The international game is still growing, federations need to support the teams. Most countries don’t have a team together like Canada and US…it is challenge. I think having Angela Ruggiero on IOC committee will be helpful. She can help people understand the game.


 

by Heather McIntyre       Dec. 2009

She talked while watching her daughter Madison compete in a football game.

An all star at the University of Minnesota as well as University of Minnesota-Duluth she made Team USA in 1997. A three-time Olympian, with a medal of each color:  gold in 1998, silver in 2002 and bronze in 2006.

In non Olympic years she plays for the Minnesota Whitecaps in the Western Women’s Hockey League (WWHL). Last season, Potter, a forward, notched 16 goals in as many games, finishing with 35 points and the 2009 WWHL Championship.

Eight-year-old Madison is creating her own sports story early. She recently took up football and is a state champion swimmer. “She chose it. She enjoys it," states Potter.

Family time is what Potter focuses on in between practices, games, and workouts in preparation for the 2010 Games – though the Games aren’t the main focus  right now.

“We have a long road ahead of us,” said Potter,
"The team is young,but has the right mix of talent and ability thus far." Many players were born in the mid-to-late 80s playing US college hockey .

The team will measure their skill against Canada, Finland, WWHL teams and Minnesota male high school hockey teams before the head to the Olympics.

Playing against the boys“ definitely makes you play the game faster,” nods Potter, “It’s a totally different game. And it really helps us prepare for a team like Canada.”

It is an intense pre-Olympic schedule for her family which includes husband, Robert and two-year-old son, Cullen. “It’s pretty tough,” admits Potter "being a mom and a national team athlete." 

The team is centralized in Minnesota, which helps. She generally practices in the morning and makes it to her daughter Madison’s games or swim meets in the evenings as long as she’s not travelling or playing away from home.

“I don’t sit around much. I’m pretty busy running around,” says Potter. “But that’s where family comes into play.”

As she paves her way through a successful career and hopefully a second Olympic gold medal, Potter has a important support team  helping her every step of the way.And a daughter who more than just looks up to her, but also wants to emulate her success.

Madison was at her mother's games as an infant  and is already competing with the boys, though with a hunk of pigskin, not frozen rubber on ice. "She hasn’t strapped on the skates to play organized hockey yet," says Potter "but don’t rule it out."