Beijing Olympics

USA Women's Hockey: Suburban Coach Justin Nelson Has Made Big Impact on Trio of Olympians

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The United States women’s hockey team is getting set for their quarterfinal match against the Czech Republic on Thursday, and at suburban Glacier Ice Arena in Vernon Hills, some of the biggest names in women’s hockey left their mark.

“It’s unbelievable,” said professional power skater and skills coach Justin Nelson. “Every four years you could see that they make an impact and you could see the group behind me. The kids get excited.”

Nelson helped train athletes like Savannah Harmon, Megan Bozek, and Jesse Compher on developing their individual skills from skating to shooting.

All three are now members of Team USA, and have played key roles in the Americans’ success in the Olympics so far.  

“They train year-round off ice training on ice training and just the nutrition, the regime that these girls go through to get to this level,” he said. “It’s a full-time job for these women.”

All three players are hoping to get the team to yet another gold medal game, even after a loss to Canada to wrap up preliminary round play.

“For them to get the opportunity to go on and represent the country is really special, and it means a lot to those girls,” he said.

Nelson is extremely proud of his athletes, who are now paving the way for the next generation of young stars.

“I just love playing because it’s like action and I don’t like boring stuff,” said 8-year-old Olive, a student of Nelson’s. “I want to tell them that you play hockey because it’s a really good sport.”

Nelson said it takes drive and determination to compete in a physical sport like hockey, and what this trio has been able to accomplish is something he’ll remember on and off the ice.

“I just wished them the best you know,” he said. “I said this is what you worked for and now you have the opportunity to go out and do it—just be proud and play hard.”

The U.S. Women’s Hockey Team is now 3-1 in the tournament. You can catch them in action Thursday night when they face off against Czechia. Puck drop is set for 10:10 p.m.

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