Branford native and two-time Olympic medalist Caitlin Cahow headed to Sochi for the 2014 Winter Games, but not to compete.
Cahow, a former U.S. women’s hockey player and openly gay athlete, was chosen to be a part of the U.S. delegation to Russia and attend the Closing Ceremony in Sochi. She also filled in during the Opening Ceremony when one of her idols, Billy Jean King, couldn’t make it.
“Any time your president gives you a phone call and asks you to represent him, it’s a pretty amazing opportunity and something I’ll never forget,” Cahow told NBC Connecticut’s Kevin Nathan.
President Barack Obama’s decision not to attend the Sochi Games only led Cahow to take her responsibility more seriously.
“We are not sending a major diplomat in the sense that we have in the past, so I think that puts a little bit more pressure on the rest of us and the delegation to represent the entire country and support our athletes,” she said.
Cahow explained that the Olympics are about more than sports and said she strives to be a leader and role model in all areas of her life.
“For me, [coming out] really wasn’t a question,” she said. “I knew when my hockey career was done… that I could be doing more for people out there. … It was in part motivated by some of the Russian LGBT policies that were becoming worldwide, and in part it was because I speak with a lot of young athletes all the time and I want to be honest with them.”
Cahow grew up in Branford and competed in the Torino and Vancouver games. She graduated from Harvard and is finishing a law degree at Boston College, but said no matter where she goes, she takes a little piece of Connecticut with her.
“My Olympic dreams started in my driveway playing street hockey with my friends on Short Beach [in Branford], so I always carry that with me wherever I go. When I walk out into the Olympic stadium again for the third time, I’ll be carrying the Nutmeg State with me in my pocket.”
She’s joined in Sochi by fellow Branford natives Alex Deibold, who brought home the bronze in men’s snowboard cross, and NBC Olympics executive producer Jim Bell.