Every Olympian takes his or her own unique journey to athletic stardom on the world's biggest stage. Some train from the time that they can walk; others become prodigies by picking up and ascending to the highest levels of a sport within a matter of months. Some follow in the footsteps of their parents; others surprise their families by forging an unexpected path.
Broc Little, who will compete for the United States in the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics, has a story that is in some ways expected, and in others rather miraculous. You see, Broc is an ice hockey player... from Arizona. When he skates out for his first match on February 14th against Slovenia, the 29 year old will become the first native of his home state to play for the United States men's hockey team.
There's a reason that so many players in the National Hockey League are from places like Boston (if they're American), Canada, Russia, and other Eastern European countries: access to lots of ice! In Phoenix, where Broc grew up, there weren't many places where a kid could strap on ice hockey skates and train. But that didn't stop Broc, who is the son of a hockey fan from Boston, from pursuing his dream of playing. As a kid, Broc would roller skate until the wheels wore down. His parents would shuttle him to other cities to play at their ice rinks. And eventually, when Broc's skill became too impressive to ignore, the family relocated back to Boston to help him follow his dream.
Broc was a star on his high school hockey teams, and went on to an impressive four years at Yale, despite his relatively small size (5'9" and 170 pounds). After a short stint in the training leagues for the NHL, Broc decided to pursue more playing time at a higher level in Europe.
While it was disappointing for Broc to not go to the NHL, it ended up being the key to his ultimate trip to the Olympics. Because this year, for the first time since 1994, the NHL has declined to halt its season and send its athletes to the Olympics. So the U.S. men's team recruited Americans playing overseas—including Broc! We wish the best of luck and will be rooting for Broc, who didn't let anything in his story slow down his dream!