It’s a shame that today our news seems to be dominated with the negatives, which swirl around us. Even though I’d like to simply ignore it at times, it requires me to speak to it on a regular basis, whether through the articles I write to inform our readers or in the column like this one which allows me at times to digress from some of the more serious accounts of the day.
Whether it deals with the terrible tragedy which occurred last week in Parkland, Florida, just two hours away from us or the problems here on the island regarding our recently hired city manager, it gives no one pleasure to write about these things. The general public requires we do so, to allow them to stay informed, no matter how difficult it is to read about these things.
One piece of news gave us the opportunity to take our minds off some of the senseless tragedies we are see taking up the front page of our papers or as lead stories on the radio or television. That ray of sunshine came because of the remarkable play of the American Women’s Hockey Team when they won the gold medal in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
This was kind of special to me, for it was 20 years ago during the 1998 Winter Olympics held in Nagano, Japan when a young lady from Concord, New Hampshire was on the last team to win the gold at the Winter Olympics. Young Tara Mounsey, a graduate of Concord High School and who will turn 40 in March, was a born athlete, playing a number of sports, including Little League Baseball alongside the boys of her age. She went on to be an outstanding softball player, a standout in field hockey and she led the boys’ high school hockey team to the state title in 1996, when she was named the best player in the state in the boys’ division.
Her academic record was as good, attending Brown University, but she chose to take a year off from Brown University to try out and make the Women’s National Hockey Team. This began her quest for the Olympic team when Women’s Olympic Hockey was introduced in 1998 to the lineup of competition.
The U.S. would go on to win the gold that year against Canada and their rivalry remains as strong today as it did when they first met.
Mounsey would go on to the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah where TEAM USA would win a silver medal, and that would end her Olympic career, but not her love for the sport or athletics.
She would continue to play hockey at Brown after the Nagano Winter Olympics and have an outstanding run as both a hockey and field hockey collegiate athlete winning high recognition in both college sports.
Today she has two young boys, five and six years of age. She helps to coach them in their Milton, Massachusetts Youth Hockey League and sits on the league’s board of directors. In addition to that she has a full professional schedule as a nurse practitioner at New England Baptist Hospital.
All of this was kind of ironic, as a nice family moved in next to us for a week’s vacation. They are using a home that belongs to their childhood friend from Braintree, Massachusetts. One of their boys had inadvertently casted their fishing line a little too far off their dock and got tangled around one of our pilings. I went over to help them dislodge the line and began a conversation with the dad and we chatted some as he said he grew up south of Boston.
Then he told me that his wife grew up in New London, New Hampshire. I inquired of him where his wife went to school, and low and behold she had been a student of one of my roommates in college at Kearsarge Regional High School “You know Mr. Brown,” she’d inquire and I told her the story of how we had attended Plymouth State College together and we spent a considerable time sharing stories.
Marty had been a mentor of hers and helped steer her in a direction to follow her dreams.
Then I mention Tara’s name and the hockey connection and she told me that they played the sport together, but she was quick to point out that Tara was always destined for greatness due to her focus and drive.
It was a nice day, thinking about what you can accomplish if you set your mind to it. It was also very satisfying to me to pick up the phone and call Marty and tell him about the conversation with a gal he made a difference with and the connection we made. It made me smile after a tough week of otherwise depressing news.
Steve Stefanides, well-known by his nickname “Stef,” is an experienced award-winning reporter of local civic and public interest news. Stef’s More Straight Talk column (and its predecessor, Straight Talk), on a variety of subjects, is a favorite of readers who trust him to bring them the facts. A Marco Island resident, Stef contributes to the community in many ways, having served on a number of city committees, charitable groups, boards and local organizations. Stef@coastalbreezenews.com