London calling for Olympian Angela Ruggiero

The four-time ice hockey medalist is one of 12 athletes designated to speak for the wrestlers, runners, swimmers, skaters and other competitors in the hierarchy that governs the Games.

Angela Ruggiero

Angela Ruggiero, four-time ice hockey Olympic medalist, is a member of the Athletes Commission of the International Olympic Committee. (Tom Dahlin/Getty Images / August 26, 2009)

Valley native and four-time ice hockey Olympic medalist Angela Ruggiero — one gold, two silvers, one bronze — was elected in 2010 by her fellow Olympians to the Athletes Commission of the International Olympic Committee. She's one of 12 athletes designated to speak for the wrestlers, runners, swimmers, skaters and all the other competitors in the hierarchy that governs the Games. Next week's London Olympics are her first as a member of the IOC, but she's already working far ahead: on the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea, on the 2016 youth Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, and on her MBA at Harvard, her alma mater. The proponent of women's sports is off the competitive ice but on the larger Olympic team.

What will you be doing in London at the Games?

We have meetings the week before. I'll get to run the torch in one of the boroughs, Richmond upon Thames. I'm going to try to get to as many events as possible. And I get to give out medals. I don't know which yet; I'm a newer member, so I wait to see what events are left after the senior members select.

LONDON 2012: Olympics Now

The amount of detail that goes into planning the Olympics has been surprising. As an athlete, you show up and everything is great and you have everything you need, and you don't really think about all the work that goes into it. Being a member now and seeing plans that were developed 10 years out is pretty incredible.

Questions have been raised in Britain about whether there is adequate security for the Games. Has the IOC talked about this?

We get daily briefings, but I'm not concerned at all. I leave on Saturday; I'm confident in London, and I know they'll do a really good job.

You retired from the U.S. ice hockey team and international competition in December. Was it hard to hang up your skates?

Yeah, I've been playing hockey since I was 7, so to step away from it, there's a bit of a void. I told my team that I will be in Sochi [Russia, site of the 2014 Winter Olympics] cheering you on, and I hope I'm the one who gets to give you your gold medal!

How about those Kings, winning the Stanley Cup?

It was my childhood dream to see them win. I wanted to be on the Kings when I was little. There was no women's Olympics [hockey], and I didn't really see women's NCAA hockey because it was all on the East Coast, so the Kings were it for me.

California has three NHL teams, more than any other state. When I started playing, there were [only] a half-dozen rinks. Now there are many more rinks, yet it is harder [than] walking to a soccer field and picking up a ball. It takes lots of dedication on the parents' part and the kids' part. With the success of the Kings, hopefully a lot of young kids were inspired.

Is it true you went to second-grade Career Day dressed as a hockey player?

White Oak Elementary [in Simi Valley]. I showed up in my gear. No one had seen that before.

It's the 40th anniversary of Title IX, which bans discrimination against women in education, including school sports.

Everyone in women's sports in the U.S. is indebted to Title IX. The government really took a stand: Of course we should provide equal opportunity. People all the time ask, why do American women do so well in the Olympics? And I point to Title IX.

Encouraging women to play sports has had other benefits too.

You earn higher wages, you have more confidence, you're less prone to domestic violence, have better eating habits, lower obesity.

Sport in general is a universal right, in my opinion. Everyone should have the opportunity to try sport, to try activities that lead to healthier living.

Yet London is the first Olympics in which every competing country will include women on its team.

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