Emily Matheson spent the winter months during her childhood following her older brothers around an outdoor rink in her hometown of Buffalo, New York. Now, her family is following Matheson’s illustrious career with the U.S. Women’s National Team.
“I think I just always loved playing hockey,” Matheson said. “It has always been something I’ve always done and really enjoyed doing.”
It started at a young age for Matheson, whose father David built a backyard rink every winter for Matheson and her older brothers Matthew and Thomas.
“My brothers would be out there and I would be crying to go out, so my parents finally bought me a pair of skates,” Matheson said. “The only thing I have to look back on are our family videos, so it’s funny to see my brothers playing a game, and by the time I got to one end, they were already at the other end. But they always included me. I think I just wanted to play with them.”
The outdoor backyard rink was something Matheson looked forward to every winter. The fun largely continued into high school until Matheson’s schedule filled with increased hockey. But just about every weekend previous during the winter, Matheson has fond memories of playing hockey in the backyard rink with her older brothers.
“It was just my favorite sport, and it obviously still is,” Matheson said. “When hockey season was over, it was time to put the hockey gear in the basement and start a new sport, but I always looked forward to going back to hockey.”
Now, Matheson’s family looks forward to following her career with the U.S. Women’s National Team. She captured a gold medal at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. Matheson has also earned four additional gold medals during the IIHF Women’s World Championship action from 2015-19, along with an IIHF Women’s Under-18 World Championship gold in 2011.
Matheson’s oldest brother was with her when she won her first world championship in 2015 in Sweden, and her whole family made the trip to PyeongChang for her Olympic debut.
“It was just awesome to share that experience with them because they were a big reason why I was there,” Matheson said. “It was part of their dream, too. I remember after we won, I saw my brother right at the glass, and it was pretty special. It was one of the most special times in my career and my life, and it was really cool to be able to celebrate with them.”
Emily Matheson takes a shot on goal against Canada during the Women's Gold Medal Game of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
Now, Matheson will take on a supporting role in the coming weeks, as her husband Mike Matheson competes as a member of the Florida Panthers in the upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs. A standout defenseman, Matheson and the Panthers open the playoffs on Saturday against the New York Islanders in Toronto, Ontario.
“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch,” Emily Matheson said. “I think everyone’s definitely missing hockey, so it will be really fun.”
Matheson, as a fellow elite athlete, understands the grind her husband is currently enduring.
“It’s fun to watch each other play and to be able to know what one another is going through,” Matheson said. “For [the women’s world championships], we’re gone for about three weeks, so I think that’s the longest stretch of time where we’re gone. Hopefully, it’s longer for him. We’ve both been in similar situations. I’m looking forward to watching the team play.”
Matheson has currently been able to work out on the ice twice a week. The couple also turned one of their four bedrooms into a makeshift gym while quarantining during the COVID-19 pandemic, they bought a stationary bike and have also broken out their roller blades to stay sharp.
Regardless of how the coronavirus pandemic turns out, Matheson realizes 2021 is an important year leading into the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, China.
“Obviously, we’re in a very interesting time right now,” Matheson said. “I’m just working as hard as I can every day with what we have. It’s different than a normal year, but for now I’ve been working on parts of my game and hopefully I can help contribute to our team. It’s exciting and we’re almost there. It’s going to be a fun year.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.