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U.S. Coach Provides Some Good Advice

WINTER OLYMPICS 1998 | SPORT-BY-SPORT REPORT : HOCKEY

February 17, 1998|HELENE ELLIOTT

Members of the U.S. women's hockey team have already been asked what they'll do after the Games, but they're not prepared to think about that yet.

But to be sure they seize the moment, Coach Ben Smith gave them a speech that stuck in the mind of forward Karyn Bye.

"He warned us, one of our first days back [from their Christmas break] in January," she said. "He said, 'The day is going to come that you'll hear birds chirping and the sun comes up and this will be over. Don't let this slip through your fingers. Cherish this. Work hard and have fun.'

"That really had an impact. We're all just focusing on one day at a time and whatever's going to happen will happen."

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Smith once dreamed of playing on the men's Olympic team but never made the cut. Coaching the women's team is almost as good.

"I was fortunate enough in 1988 to work with the men's team in Calgary [as an assistant coach] and one of the reasons why I took this job was personal and selfish," he said. "I wanted a chance to be back in the Olympic setting.

"I obviously wanted to be a player and I'm so envious of these kids and happy for them."

He also said he has enjoyed this experience more than he did in 1988, when the men's team finished seventh.

"The outlook these women provide and the promotion of the sport are more exciting," he said. "I'm thrilled for it because I think it's a wonderful sport for young girls and women."

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