Megan Bozek has long dreamed of making it to the Olympics.
Now that she’s heading to Sochi, Russia, to represent the U.S. as a member of the women’s ice hockey team, she has a single goal in mind.
“To win the gold medal,” she said without hesitation.
It’s a goal that the Buffalo Grove native believes is “absolutely” within reach of her team, made up of the 21 top players from around the country.
“We have a phenomenal team this year. If we perform how I believe we can perform, I think the sky’s the limit for us,” she said.
Her confidence may not come as a surprise to those who know Bozek, whose mantra is “whatever it takes.” Her desire to be the best extends well beyond the rink, explained the 22-year-old defenseman.
“Being the best sister, friend, cousin I can be, I’m willing to do whatever it takes to be that,” she said.
Still, this lifelong athlete knows she is only part of the equation when it comes to earning her team’s most coveted medal.
“You’re representing what’s on the front of the jersey,” she said, in reference to Team USA, “not what’s on the back.”
Bozek, who attended St. Mary School in Buffalo Grove, graduated from Stevenson High School in 2009. She graduated in 2013 from the University of Minnesota, where she also played hockey, with a degree in sport management.
She now lives in Concord, Mass., where she’s been training with the U.S. women’s national hockey team since August. She has played on the team for the past three years.
She learned Dec. 20 that she’d been among its members chosen to represent the U.S. in the Olympics.
“[I’ve] worked [my] whole life to make this a reality. Now that’s it’s happening, it’s just incredible,” she said.
Bozek started skating at age 3 after watching her two older brothers on the ice.
“I have two older brothers that played. I was always at the rink, so my parents decided to put me on skates,” she said.
A couple of years later, she joined a hockey team in Glenview. A few years after that, she was playing on a boys team in Bensenville. She finished her high school years with the Chicago Mission Youth Hockey Club's girls team.
Bozek admits that she's made a lot of sacrifices over the years, heading to the rink for 5:30 a.m. practices and skipping events such as school dances so that she’d get enough rest for the next day’s hockey game.
Looking back, she said she has no regrets.
“I’d rather be getting ready for a world game than getting ready for a dance my sophomore year of high school,” she said.
These days, she’s living with a host family in Boston and sticking to a rigorous training schedule, which includes daily gym workouts and two-hour practices.
She’ll leave Feb. 1 for Russia’s Olympic Village, which will be her home for more than three weeks. While friends will be cheering on the team from home, Bozek’s parents, Tom and Patti, and her brothers, Stephen and Danny, will make the trip to Sochi.
Hockey games will begin Feb. 8. She said she plans to remain in Sochi until Feb. 24.
“I’m just excited to get to the [Olympic] Village and experience all that and see how much work and time and money Russia has put into the Games,” she said.
“I’m looking forward to it. It’s been a long time coming,” she said. “I’m counting it down, day by day, hour by hour.”