Olympic Gold medalist Gigi Marvin described what it means to live by faith in her message to students who gathered for the Day One assembly on Tuesday, Aug. 3, at Sacred Heart School in East Grand Forks.
Marvin, who grew up Warroad, Minn., known as “Hockey Town USA,” is a member of the U.S. women’s hockey team that captured the gold medal during the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The Day One assembly is meant to start students off on the right track on the first day of school, said Carl Adolphson, president of Sacred Heart School.
Marvin said she accepted the invitation to speak at the school because she wanted to bring a faith-based message to students about “how faith plays a role in my life, to meet the kids and be able to talk with them and tell them my story.”
Speaking before a few hundred audience members in the school gym, Marvin recalled her feelings when her team won the gold medal last year.
“It’s such an amazing moment for everyone involved,” said Marvin, noting that, in the aftermath, “everywhere we went, people had a piece of the story. It’s so much bigger than you.”
It’s “amazing” to play for Team USA, she said. “This is exactly what I was made for, what I was born for.”
Born and raised in ‘hockey town’
Looking back on her childhood, it was only natural that Marvin was drawn to hockey, she said.
“I was born in Hockey Town and to a hockey family. My dad always brought me to the rink," she said.
Marvin, who played most recently for the Boston Pride of the National Women’s Hockey League, has traveled worldwide, visiting countries such as Korea, Switzerland, Canada, Russia and Sweden.
As a member of the U.S. national women’s ice hockey team, she won a silver medal at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games and the 2014 Winter Olympics.
She is also a three-time participant in the International Ice Hockey Federation World Women’s Championships. She won gold in 2008 and 2009 and silver in 2007.
In her Day One talk, Marvin described some of her experiences in the world of competitive hockey and how her faith has helped her to handle the highs and lows of her career.
She recalled that, after the 2014 Olympics, she took a year off to recover because “every single attachment at the hip was shredded,” she said. “You go from the peak of (winning) the Olympic gold, when everyone knows your name, to a low point in mind-numbing rehab.”
“(In life) there will be pitfalls,” she said. “How do you handle that? I don’t know how you handle it other than to turn to the Lord.”
She realized that “no one is more valuable because of what you do,” she said. “You are so much more than anyone says you are.
“Every one of you has good qualities,” she said. “(You need) to acknowledge those and bring them to life.”
Faith and success
Discussing how faith and success are interrelated, Marvin said the calm she exhibited in the nail-biting finale, a shootout in the final Olympic hockey game in 2018, stemmed from her prayers that morning and meditation on a biblical verse.
“It’s OK to be scared, but just because you have a thought doesn’t mean you have to agree with it or act on it,” she said.
During the 2018 Olympics, “in the close-up of me on camera, there’s a smile on my face,” she said. “People ask, ‘Why are you smiling?’ I had such great peace. This is going to be awesome; we’ve got this.”
Marvin also emphasized qualities of leadership and how students can become leaders by taking action, rather than merely noticing, when they see the needs of others.
She also credited “the generosity of the generations who came before us” and the culture of her home community, which built and maintains hockey facilities where children are welcome to practice anytime without charge.
“I never heard of paying for ice time,” she said. “The doors of the rink are always open.”
After Marvin’s talk, Isaac Telle, 16, a sophomore at Sacred Heart School, said the talk was “very, very good. I learned a lot about leadership.”
He was also impressed by “how calm she was in the shootout” at the 2018 Olympics.
“I’ve been playing hockey for about seven years," he said. “If I was in that situation, I’d be pretty nervous.”
His father, Scott Telle, who was born and raised in Warroad, said: “It’s been fun to watch Gigi and the Marvin family” over the years.
He praised the Sacred Heart School administration for an “excellent choice in bringing Gigi here,” he said. “As a competitor and a leader bringing a faith-driven message, (she gave a talk that) fits perfectly with the motto of the school -- to build the mind, body and soul of each student.
“And the fact that she has achieved her dreams gives students the opportunity to try their best and do everything they can to make their dreams come true.”