To be the best on the ice, you have to be willing to work harder than anyone else.
That’s why on a Sunday morning in front of empty bleachers you’ll find some of Connecticut’s best youth hockey players putting in a little extra.
They’re not playing for fortune or fame. Even if they make it to the highest level, there’s a good chance few people will notice.
“We do it for ourselves, and for each other as a team,” said Wolcott native Avery Flynn.
Her team, the Connecticut Polar Bears, boasts nine Olympians past and present, and more than 235 college placements. Between school and club, many of them train seven days a week.
“It’s kind of a commitment but I love it and I want to get better,” said Cheshire’s Emma Lange.
But what’s the goal in a sport that professionally offers roughly $25,000 a season? It depends who you ask.
Seventeen-year-old Lange has yet to see the US Women’s National Team win a gold medal in her lifetime. For her, the once every four year hype is enough to think, "What if?"
“It’s a dream to be there,” said Lange.
At one point, it was her coach Janice Yang’s dream too.
“I never made it that far, to the National Team but definitely, growing up, that was my goal to play in the Olympics,” said Yang.
For most of the players, including Flynn, the game will pay off in other ways.
“Ultimately I want a good education in college so I’m looking at a college that has a really good education,” said Flynn.
And sometimes, it’s not about what you get out of the sport, rather, how you can pay it back.
“You rely on good people and coaches that invest their time into you and that’s one of the reasons why I came back is because a lot of people invested their time and their efforts into me,” said Yang.