Q&A with Brianna Decker

Q&A with Brianna Decker

Team USA's Brianna Decker poses in front of hockey net during photo shoot

What is your earliest memory of playing hockey?    
My earliest memory was when I was 5 years old and I was playing Mini-Mite hockey. I watched my older brothers play before I started to skate, and I knew I wanted to be just like them. I decided to dedicate my life to hockey because when I am out on the rink I have fun and I feel so free.

What is your first memory of watching the Olympics? 
I vaguely remember the 1998 Olympics, but I remember watching the 2002 Olympic Games and I wanted to be in the shoes of those women at that moment.

Do you remember a “breakthrough” moment in your hockey career when you realized you could make it to the Olympic Games?
In 2007, I made the first ever U18 USA team and I think that was the first time I realized that I could reach one of my goals of playing in the Olympics.

Who in your family has had the biggest influence on your life and athletic career? 
My parents were very influential in my athletic career. They were the type of parents who were very positive, but also knew not to sugar coat anything thing. They are my biggest supporters and have travelled all over the world to cheer me on.

My grandfather, Robert O’Bryan, is probably one of the most influential people in my life. He is the strongest man I know and has supported me every step of my career. He has been through major heart surgery and cancer and not once would you ever question if he were going to make it through. He never gives up and always puts his family before himself.

Within the hockey world, who has had the biggest impact on you?    
My high school coach, Gordie Stafford, who coached me for four years at Shattuck- St. Mary’s. He has had the biggest influence one me because he has never stopped caring about me as an athlete or a person. He always has the right thing to say and knows the right way to guide me through my struggles.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?    
Never let a coach take confidence away from you, let alone let anyone take confidence away from you.

Did anyone ever try to dissuade you from pursuing your goals in hockey?    
I had one coach when I was younger that just struggled with me being better than his son. He treated me different and I will never forget it because he thought that is was unfair that I was playing on a boys’ team and girls’ team in the same year. Instead of being supportive, he blamed games on me because he thought I was tired from the girls’ games that I played that weekend. I guess I proved him wrong.

What obstacles have you had to overcome in your life?    
One of the biggest obstacles I have overcome in my life would be falling short at the 2014 Olympic Games and taking home silver. It was one of the biggest disappointments and it took me a long time to get over it and begin training again.

How much time do you spend training each day?
I usually spend about 3 hours in the weight room about 4 times a week, along with 5 days a week of 1.5 hours on the ice.

What’s the most grueling workout you’ve ever done?
The most grueling workout I have ever done was when we had an over speed/high tempo skate the same day as a heavy leg day in the weight room which ended with a bike sprints.
What kind of training do you like to do outside of the rink or gym?

When the weather is nice in the summer we will go on team hikes up different mountains around [Boston.] This is not only great for team bonding, but also a good workout in itself.

What are some of your favorite workout songs?
While training I enjoy listening to hip hop/dance. “The Mack (ft. Mark Morrison & Fetty Wap)” by Nevada, “Call on Me (Ryan Riback Remix)” by Starley, “The Greatest” by Sia, “Party Monster” by The Weeknd, “Run Up (ft. Partynextdoor and Nicki Minaj)” by Major Lazer.

Are there any misconceptions about women’s hockey you would like to clear up?
One major misconception is that many people think that the women’s game isn’t as physical as the men’s game. However, if you watch us play, bodies are being thrown around more often than not.

What’s the coolest, weirdest or most intense thing about hockey that people don’t normally see?
I don’t think people realize how much fun we have in the locker room before we step in the ice. I don’t think people realize how superstitious players are when it comes to tying skates, taping sticks or particular songs we choose to listen to before games.

Are you superstitious?    
Yes I am. Before I get the rink I elevate my legs and read a reading from a book that I read awhile back, when I get the rink, I tape my stick to the same song every game, get my equipment on in the same order, I pray, and Before I step on the ice I do my hand shakes that I have with other teammates.

What is your biggest fear when competing?    
My biggest fear is letting my teammates down in any way.

Who is your most interesting teammate and why?    
Hilary Knight is probably the most interesting teammate because she’s just a goofball, and mumbles a lot. She has a story in her head and then just says a part of the story out loud expecting me to follow, but I get lost because it’s mid-story. It makes me laugh every time.

Who are your biggest rivals? Is it friendly or contentious?    
Team Canada is our biggest rival and it’s definitely a contentious rival. Most of us know each other from either national team experiences, or from playing with or against each other in college. Though some of us may be friends off the ice, we are not friends on the ice.

How do you unwind after a competition?
Unwinding after a competition is one of the hardest things to do. If I can get a massage that is that best way for me, or listening to peaceful music.

What is your favorite perk of being an Olympic athlete?    
My favorite perk is that I am an Olympic athlete and not every one knows it. I might get served at a restaurant, at a hotel front desk, or checking out at the grocery store and people do not realize that they are talking to an Olympic athlete.

What are you most looking forward to with the Olympic Games being hosted in South Korea? 
I am excited because I have never been there and I am excited to see the different culture. I am excited to try their food. 

Karaoke is popular in South Korea, do you like karaoke? What’s your go-to karaoke song?    
Yes, I love it! My go-to song is “Jack and Diane” by John Mellencamp.

What will success look like for you in PyeongChang?    
Winning a gold medal.

Who is your Olympic role model?    
Serena Williams is a boss.

Where did you attend high school?    
Shattuck-St. Mary’s

College?
University of Wisconsin. I played for the Badgers from 2009-2013.

Who are some of your favorite professional athletes? 
Phil Mickelson, because his mental side to the game shows in every shot. When he hits a bad ball, he always manages to hit the next ball perfect. His last shot never affects his next shot. Aaron Rodgers, because of his competitiveness. You can just tell he hates losing and one thing that I love the most is how much he expects out of his teammates. He expects every one to be ready to go every play. Connor McDavid, because he is so young but plays like a veteran player. He is one of the most consistent players and uses every ounce of skill he has. Jaromir Jagr is my all-time favorite player because of his consistent work habits and he sticks with what he knows.

Do you have a celebrity crush?    
Aaron Rodgers and Ryan Reynolds. 

Do you have a nickname?    
Decks, short for Decker. Deck Dog, from my current roomies. Dicky, teammates in high school called me it for some reason. Pooky/Pooks, my dad gave me this when I was younger and he still calls me it.

If you are to indulge, what’s your favorite food, snack and dessert?    
Pizza, Goldfish crackers, ice cream

Do you have any fears?    
I am scared of snakes, spiders and most of all I hate flying.

Do you have any special tattoos?
I have a cross on my left ribs that stand for my brother Brendan that was born in 1997, but unfortunately couldn’t survive without a breathing machine. It was a very hard time for my parents and family. I have the Olympic rings on the ring back shoulder, representing the first time I went to the games.

Do you have pets? 
My family has two dogs, Bentley and Whiskey. Both are Great Pyrenees, and one cat, Lulu. My dogs are a huge part of my life. Although they live in Wisconsin and I live Boston, they are a symbol of home to me. They bring a comfort and are the bet cuddle buddies ever. They are my family’s protectors! 

What do you think you would be doing if you were not playing professional and Olympic hockey?
I would be coaching or working with kids in one way or another.

Do you work with any charities or youth organizations? 
I support and help out with the Alzheimer’s Association which I got involved with through a former USA speed skating champion Bonnie Blair. MDA (Muscular Dystrophy Association), I got involved right after college through some former Badger alums.

Do you have a personal motto or inspirational quote?    
“Do Whatever It Takes”

What are your favorite movies? 
“Remember the Titans,” “The Notebook” and “Ace Ventura Pet Detective.”

What’s something quirky about yourself that people would be amused to learn?    
I like folding laundry.

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