As the captain of the United States women’s ice hockey team, Duggan is so much more than just the face of its team. She represents a movement that has seen women fight bravely for sporting equality, as evidenced by the national team’s courageous effort in pay equity.
Considering that the struggle of these wondrous female hockey gladiators for fairness, along with the potential boycott of the 2017 IIHF Women’s World Championships in Plymouth, Michigan, making international news, the women of the US national team would have been most worthy of the ESPY’s Arthur Ashe Award for Courage in Sport. Although such an honor was not meant to be, ESPN has definitely acknowledged what such a courageous effort meant for these players, and subsequently, the game’s growth.
Not only was it an opportunity for the sporting community to catch up to Duggan and her remarkable heroics, highlighted by her historic standing as the first captain to lead an American team to gold at the IIHF Women’s Worlds on home soil, there was also the dual purpose of recognizing the athletes featured in the 2017 Body Issue. It was one that included a significant women’s hockey presence, as an unprecedented six members of the US national women’s ice hockey team were featured in its pages.
In addition to Duggan, assistant captain Kacey Bellamy, Brianna Decker, who was recognized as the Most Outstanding Player of the 2017 IIHF Women’s Worlds, Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux, along with goaltender Alex Rigsby (who captured a Frozen Four title in 2011 at Wisconsin with Duggan and Decker as her teammates) redefined team spirit, providing a unique viewpoint. Donning just their skates and a captivating confidence, this “Spectacular Six” turned the world of women’s hockey on its ear, while reinforcing the message that “Strong is Beautiful”.
Traditionally, the evening before the ESPY Awards, features a Body Issue celebration, in which all featured athletes grace the red carpet flashing both a smile and the photo from the Issue. Although Duggan was the only member of the US team that was present, her presence encompassed the positive message of her teammates, extending what has proven to be an empowering year for women’s ice hockey in the United States.
Following it up with a chance to attend the ESPY Awards, the entire experience was one that shall provide Duggan with a lifetime of memories, while affirming her status as one of America’s sporting heroes. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with other female sporting giants such as Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, Kerri Walsh-Jennings and Lindsey Vonn, the feeling of achievement, encouragement and glamor all intersected on the red carpet.
Having also visited the Young Hollywood Studio and the GBK Pre-ESPY Event at Luxe on Rodeo Drive Beverly Hills, California, there was another unique facet for Duggan. The night before the ESPY Awards, Duggan ran into New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter. Although Duggan grew up in Danvers, Massachusetts, gaining the opportunity to grace the mound at Fenway Park an amazing three times in her career, the presence of Jeter may provide a very unique omen.
Leading into the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games, the training camp for the US national women’s team shall take place in the non-traditional hockey market of Tampa, Florida. Taking into account that the Yankees hold their spring training camp in Tampa, where Legends Field serves as the preseason home for so many of the modern greats of Yankees lore, the Tampa connection may be the element of good luck that propels the US team to its first Winter Games gold medal since 1998, which would provide Duggan with the ultimate milestone that would help enhance the fascinating journey which also included the ESPY Awards.