COLOGNE, Germany -- American Angela Ruggiero was formally enshrined into the IIHF Hall of Fame here today, along with players Saku Koivu, Uwe Krupp, Joe Sakic and Teemu Selanne, and builder Dieter Kalt as part of the the IIHF Hall of Fame Class of 2017.
The Class of 2017 is the 20th in the history of the International Ice Hockey Federation. Ruggiero has been previously inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.
From the school room to the board room to the arena, no woman has commanded the respect and accomplished as much as Angela Marie Ruggiero. Playing hockey as a teenage girl in California was an unlikely starting point for someone who has reached such lofty heights, but Ruggiero always thought big and aimed higher.
She made her debut with the U.S. National team as a 17-year-old at the 1997 Women’s World Championship in Kitchener, Ontario, and by the time she announced her retirement, on 28 December 2011, she had produced a career worthy of the Hall of Fame.
Unlike many female players of her era, Ruggiero was big and strong. As a defenceman she used those skills at both ends of the ice and became the cornerstone of the American blueline corps for more than a decade.
Without a doubt, her greatest thrill came early. The youngest player on Team USA at the 1998 Olympics – the inaugural event for women’s hockey – Ruggiero helped her team stun Canada in the gold-medal game.
As special as that moment was, though, she experienced frustration repeatedly at the Women’s Worlds, finishing runner-up time and again. But in 2005, the final game another Canada-United States showdown, it was Ruggiero’s goal in the penalty-shot shootout that proved the margin of victory, the first Women’s Worlds gold for the Americans.
Ruggiero went on to win three more World Championships, and her name was a virtually constant presence at every end-of-tournament all-star team or Directorate Award announcement.
By 2011, though, having accomplished all that she could on ice – and feeling the effects of injuries to her 31-year-old body – Ruggiero retired from the game. She was, however, only starting her career in sport administration.
Indeed, education was always more important to her than hockey. She attended Harvard University from 2000 to 2004 where she graduated cum laude with an undergrad degree in government while also being named the Patty Kazmaier Award winner in 2004 as the best female hockey player in the NCAA.
Ruggiero later earned a master’s degree in sports management from the University of Minnesota as well as an MBA from Harvard Business School. In 2010, Ruggiero was named to the evaluation commission for the 2018 Olympics, one of only eleven athletes who would inspect facilities for prospective hosts for those Olympic Winter Games.
This proved only a starting point for her involvement with the IOC at an executive level. In 2013, she was named to the IIHF Athletes’ Committee, and in 2016 she was promoted from Vice-Chair to Chair of the IOC’s Athletes’ Commission as well as being named to the executive board of the IOC.
She was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto in 2015. A champion player on the ice, Ruggiero is proving to be equally successful off of it in the name of promoting and enhancing sport worldwide.