Olympians Impact in the NEK

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Amanda Pelkey ThumbnailAROUND THE NEK- Vermont is known for maple syrup, Ben and Jerry's, and being the state where Bernie Sanders is from. Athletes? Maybe not so much. But one Vermont athlete recently returned from Pyeongchang, with a serious piece of hardware around her neck.

"That's the million dollar question everyone's been asking. I think it was above and beyond what I ever dreamt of it being," said Amanda Pelkey, a member of the US Women's Hockey Team.


"I think the excitement and the overwhelming feeling of finally getting to the Olympics and the having the end goal of winning an Olympic medal, it's cliche to say, but it was everything you've ever dreamed of."


Pelkey, a former stand out at the University of Vermont, played in all five Olympic contests, recording two assists. And while she may not have scored any goals, her impact was felt both in South Korea, and in the United States.

"it was just gratifying for us as a family to see her joy and tears of happiness when she has the gold medal around her neck," said Lyndon Institute Girls Hockey Coach Michael Matteis.

"I can't even describe it, it was amazing," added his daughter Olivia, who plays for LI. "Just knowing that someone from around here was a part of that team and experienced that with other people with her skill, it was just amazing."

Growing up, Pelkey's role models were hockey players like Cammi Granato, Karyn Bye, Angela Ruggiero, and Julie Choo; women that inspired her to push through adversity when she was growing up.

"I was leaving Friday, I was gone, I'd come back home for classes on Tuesday. And that was when I was really little. 2nd and 3rd grade is kind of when it started," added Pelkey. "But then again, you're that young and you don't know 'Is it really possible?' So when I was 15 is when it all kind of hit that this was going to be a possibility and from there, every single year is a work in process. So it was kind of like a staircase up to the highest level and I think 4 or 5 years ago, I made my first women's national team roster. Ever since then, it's been a battle. It definitely hasn't been easy but it's everything I ever dreamed of it being."

Coming from a small town in Vermont, being a gold medal athlete is something Amanda Pelkey only dreamed of. But now seeing that dream come to fruition, it's her turn to be a role model for the next generation of athletes in the area.

"That's what people say. I try to be. I think that's what it's all about," noted Pelkey. "Winning a gold medal, the last person it's for is for me. That's a powerful message that our team, our coaching staff really put out there. It just say a lot about the type of group that we have."

"Amanda, she's grown up locally from Barre, right in Vermont, and she's worked her way through. Just seeing her win the Olympics for women's hockey is just outstanding," added Olivia Matteis.

"You talk to pretty much any female youth hockey player in the state, and they know the name Amanda Pelkey, and it's always in a positive tone," added Coach Matteis. "Her attitude towards helping others and her work ethic, and her love of the game has really helped the women's sport side of it. Anytime you see or hear Amanda Pelkey's name come up, it's always a happy thought or a cheerful moment to think that 'hey we've got one of our own from the state of Vermont being able to play at that higher level."

As a role model, Pelkey has a particular message she hopes to spread.

"The biggest thing is to be fearless and setting whatever you want; cliche goal setting, but being fearless and having a vision and just running with it," said Pelkey. "Doing everything possible, whether that means, there's going to be many sacrifices that you're going to have to make. But the feeling of actually achieving that overrides all those sacrifices that you had to do when you were really little. I think that's my message and just have fun with it."

And she looks like she's having fun with that gold medal.