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Hilary Knight Inspires Passion Among the Slap Shots
Hilary Knight took time for a picture with Shya Geffen.
Tuesday, June 11, 2024


A warm summer breeze leant itself to swatting tennis balls and golf balls. But the action in Sun Valley this past weekend was inside Sun Valley’s Indoor Ice Rink.

There, 44 adults and youth were spending three days with Hilary Knight—the face of women’s hockey—as she showed them how to protect the puck and how to catch and transfer it in the manner that earned her the International Ice Hockey Federation’s first Female Player of the Year award in 2023.

The HK TwentyOne hockey camp was a rare chance for avid hockey players to learn from USA’s 2022 Hockey Women’s Player of the Year. And, though the camp was co-ed, it was Knight’s chance to inspire young female players with the passion she has for the game as she seeks to grow the sport of hockey in Idaho and, in particular, Sun Valley.

The youngsters show off their Hilary Knight camp jersey with the Sun Valley sun and mountain scenery.

“It’s fun to do these,” said Knight, whose family lives in Sun Valley. “Everyone’s extremely excited about getting better. And it’s especially wonderful to have the camp in this beautiful, amazing place.”

At 34, Knight is a four-time Olympian who has one gold and three silver medals to hang around her neck. She has a storied career, having been the first American-born player to win the CWHL’s most Valuable Player Award and one of first players in sign in the new Professional Women’s Hockey League when she signed with PWHL Boston in September 2023.

At 20, she was the youngest member of either the men’s or women’s teams when she competed at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

From Friday through Sunday she became a coach to 14 adults, the average age being 50, and 30 youngsters playing U8 through U18 hockey. Players got six hours of on ice training, three hours of dryland training, a chance to ask questions of Knight and a swag bag that included a HK21 jersey, T-shirt, and Bauer drawstring filled with signed goodies.

Shya Geffen, Brileigh Thompson, Grayson Herrick had a bunch of things for Hilary Knight to sign, including Knight’s new book.

Knight is holding four camps this year—in St. Louis, Mo.; Lakeville, Minn., Sauk Prairie, Wis., and, of course, Sun Valley, Idaho. It’s rare for professional hockey players to give back like this, said Izzy Germain, who works with Knight.

“It’s fun to see the youngsters’ light up around Hilary,” she added. “They see her on TV all the time and to be able to spend time with their idol one on one, then see how generous she is with her time and her attention, is pretty amazing.”

The Sun Valley clinic drew plenty of Wood River Valley adults and youngsters, but it also drew hockey players from Idaho Falls, Seattle and even Michigan.

“I was amazed how fast the drills were,” said Gavin Deal, a local hockey player.

Kendra Abeles and others got a chance to see what it felt like to wear one of Hilary Knight’s medals around their necks.

“Lots of the drills we haven’t seen before,” added his mother Shumi Deal.

Kenley Bozzuto said she dreams of playing professional hockey some day and this was a good first step.

“It was so cool skating with professionals,” she said.

“They put so much work into what they do,” added Bozzuto’s friend Addee Hall. “They’re really dedicated to the sport. As for me, I learned how to skate in control better, how to work on edging step by step.”

Addee Hall and Kenley Bozzuto were among those taking part in the camp.

“It’s so amazing to spend time with her,” said Shya Geffen. “She has a passion for the sport and it gives passion to others like me.”

Geffen’s mother Kirstin Geffen, who also plays on a women’s hockey team in Sun Valley, said it was one of the best camps she has attended.

“Hilary taught a lot about how to work on skills. To have her in the community—someone who the kids follow and the women’s league, too—is amazing.”

Knight said this won’t be the last camp she does in Sun Valley.

“I want to come back every year,” she said.

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