When Claudia Gagnon heads to the rink on Sunday afternoons, she knows she always needs to bring her A game. Every Sunday, as soon as her skates hit the ice, the UW-Eau Claire hockey standout is surrounded by other skaters who are counting on her to help them achieve their dreams — or at least to help them stay upright on their hockey skates. Claudia is among the women Blugold hockey players who volunteer their time with the Eau Claire Parks and Recreation Mini-Mites, a youth hockey program that helps young kids learn the basics of hockey. Claudia welcomes the chance to be part of the community program because she got her start in hockey as a young girl in a similar program in her hometown of Duluth, Minn. She remembers being inspired and motivated by her idols, young men and women who taught her how to skate while also instilling in her a love for a game that continues to be a huge part of her life. A sophomore business management major, Claudia loves hockey for the competition it offers as well as the lifelong friends she continues to make through her sport. As she works with young skaters in Eau Claire, she keeps in mind the many ways that hockey has enhanced her life and is shaping her future. Through hockey, she's learned to work hard to reach her goals. She's also learned the value of teamwork, as well as how to lead and motivate her peers. As a collegiate student-athlete, she has to manage her time well and set priorities so she can be successful in the classroom as well as on the ice. All of these are skills that are making her a more successful student and will someday make her a more valued employee. Her hope is that years from now one of these young skaters she works with on Sundays will remember her as the Blugold hockey player who inspired her to chase her own dreams. Through her success as a scholar-athlete and her volunteer work with area youth, Claudia Gagnon is making plays AND motivating kids, and that's pretty powerful!
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- Claudia Gagnon
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