Hockey player Josephine Pucci hopes to beat Canada, take gold
A concussion left Josephine Pucci, 23, unable to attend school or play hockey for Harvard during the 2012-2013 season. Pucci could barely exercise, let alone play a game, after her injury in August 2012, but she didn’t let that stop her from gearing up for Olympic tryouts in June.
“When I was finally able to exercise fully and read and mentally exert myself, I got back into shape and played my first game at the tryouts,” she told Metro. “I went in without playing the whole year.”After making the cut, the Pearl River, N.Y. native has spent all of her time working out and practicing. “Every single day is so mentally and physically challenging,” she said. “We’re being pushed to the limits almost every day and the expectations and demand are so high.”
But she said the hard work paid off when she found out she was joining the U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team. “It’s an indescribable feeling,” she said. “I can’t explain it. It’s so surreal.”
Now, Pucci gets to play with mentors like captain Meghan Duggan and three-time Olympian Julie Chu, as well as head coach Katey Stone, who also coaches Pucci at Harvard.
“Coach Stone is a great leader and coach and the entire team respects her,” she said. “Meghan Duggan – she’s someone who leads by example. She works her butt off every single shift and every practice. And Julie Chu – this will be her fourth time at the Olympics and she went to Harvard, too, so I knew a lot about her and it’s been great to get to know her. She’s so positive and full of energy.”
Pucci has been waiting for this moment at least since she was in the eighth grade. “In my yearbook, one of the questions was, ‘What is your goal in life?’ and I put down, ‘To play in the Olympics.’” She started skating when she was five years old and always had a passion for watching the Olympics.
Pucci credits her family for her success. “It’s all because when I was younger, my dad coached me and my family taught me commitment,” she said. “My parents were my backbone and strength and support system. Whenever there was a new challenge, they believed in me and it gave me more confidence to move forward.”
She added that she has also felt overwhelming support come from the people of Pearl River. “It brings back so many memories from over the years playing youth hockey and basketball and soccer – all these sports that helped me become a complete athlete,” she said. “It’s so great to hear from all of my old coaches. I always thank them because they played a role in this.”
That support has allowed Pucci to grow with her team, and she said they have their eye on the gold and aim to beat Canada. “In the early games against Canada, they beat us three times but we came right back and practiced and watched videos and beat them four times in a row,” she said. “We continue to work hard and grow as a team. We just need to go and execute.”