This past weekend, Cammi Granato was inducted into the USA Hockey Hall of Fame, along with Mike Richter, Brian Leetch and Brett Hull. If you don’t follow hockey, these names might mean little to you, but that’s okay, I’ll cut you a break and get right to the meat of this post. During her whirlwind tour around the Denver Metro this past week, Cammi took part in a hockey event at the Apex, home to the Arvada Girls Hockey program. In attendance were numerous girls from all over the metro, skating, eating, and laughing. One would not really be thinking of marketing in such a setting, but the business person in me could not help but think about it.
Cammi is one of the most marketable, well-known people in women’s hockey. What sets her apart from all others is not just her athletic feats of the past, but this genuine, heartfelt aura she carries with her. I watched 10 year olds pin this 2 time Olympian player up against a wall, while they gazed at her and shared stories of their dogs and events at school. All the while, she smiled and asked them questions, laughing and graciously engaging these kids the entire time. She tirelessly signed autographs and took picture after picture, not once denying a single fan. To me, there is no more fitting an ambassador for the sport of hockey. What is undeniably clear is her love of the sport and because of this, her attitude will inspire girls everywhere to continue or maybe even start to play.
A few years ago, I was outraged when the USA Hockey program decided to replace Cammi with another Captain for their team; at the time, it seemed like they had taken her out at the knees and she deserved far better treatment. What may be the fact now is they did us all a favor and it was probably a blessing in disguise for all female hockey players; she has gone on to build the brand of female hockey in a bigger, better, and more sincere way than could ever been possible. She was no longer bound by any restrictions and her reach is just as significant today as when she was leading the US to gold and silver in the Olympics; in addition, she’s been able to explore all the possibilities for developing “girls hockey” on another level and she is carving a niche’ that has been overlooked, which could also explain her passion for the Bela Hockey line of hockey products. You GO girl.
(Keep an eye out for my interview with Bela Hockey folks to come in a later blog post.)