GETZVILLE, N.Y. — Hayley Scamurra's road to the Olympics began in her backyard in Getzville.
Some of her earliest memories involve skating around a homemade rink with her family, learning how to play hockey.
"It was was just so much fun, and I just wanted to join in with my big brothers," she said. "They would put me in net and shoot at me."
What You Need To Know
- After a process she described as "nerve-wracking," Getzville native Hayley Scamurra made the cut for Team USA's Women's Ice Hockey team at the Olympics in Beijing
- Scamurra played college hockey at Northeastern before playing professionally in Boston and New Hampshire
- Scamurra has represented Team USA in international competition since 2019, but was one of 28 women competing for 23 spots on this year's Olympic team
Her four older brothers didn't hold back, perhaps traumatizing her out of a career as a goalie.
"I think that probably scared me off of it," she laughed.
Scamurra may have been frightened out of the crease, but it would take a lot more than that to drag her off the ice entirely.
"I had this booklet with the Wheatfield Blades (Scamurra's youth team). It was like 'what do you want to be when you grow up?' All my other teammates, because I was on the boys team, they all said 'NHL player.' I said 'Olympian.' "
Scamurra pursued her dream, much to the delight of her father, Peter. He was Buffalo's first hockey player drafted into the NHL, and never complained about the long drives to and from practice.
"He did most of the driving," she remembered. "I never ended up driving, so that part I was grateful for. But it was exhausting balancing high school and sports and traveling. It was three and a half hours a day of driving. Lot of miles on the car, and I would just sleep."
Those drives paid off, as Scamurra earned a scholarship to play at Northeastern before embarking on a professional career. After bouncing between professional leagues in Buffalo and New Hampshire, Scamurra got a call from Team USA. She played at Worlds for three straight years from 2019 to 2021, but she still had to sweat out the final selection process for the Olympics. The American residency in Minnesota had 28 players, with just 23 of them making the cut for Beijing.
"It was nerve-racking for sure. You weren’t sure where you fit on the team," she said. "I was hopeful and optimistic that I would be on the team, but it was definitely still a huge relief once it was officially made."
Hayley heard the good news at a team meeting.
"Shock. Excitement. Disbelief," she remembered thinking. "It’s just so exciting. I know my dad’s super excited and very proud. He would do that ten times over. He loved every minute of it, and he loved being a part of my hockey career and supporting me. I think he has that extra proud moment knowing that he was there through it all."
Her first chance to represent Team USA comes February 4 during the Opening Ceremony.