Not everyone can say they had a grandfather who played on the world’s highest stage.
But for Cate McCoy, having a front row seat as her grandfather recounted his experience at the 1964 Olympic Winter Games has had a monumental impact on her young playing career.
“He was kind of like my role model,” McCoy said during this week’s USA Hockey – Biosteel Girls 15 Player Development Camp. “I always wanted to play good for him. He would always come to all my games. He was always there for me and was my biggest supporter.”
Thomas James (Jake) McCoy, Cate’s grandfather, was a defenseman for the Team USA squad in Innsbruck, Austria.
The stint on the team left Jake with vital information, and he was delighted to share those memories with his grandchildren, as well as the many kids he coached for 50-plus years in Minnesota.
As her confidence and skills have continued to grow, Cate has used the advice from her grandfather, a Minnesota Hockey Hall of Fame inductee, to propel herself forward in her own development.
Jake may have passed away two years ago, but Cate still lauds her grandfather’s ability to keep her level-headed and remain even keeled through the various ups and downs of playing sports.
Jake’s unflappable personality has undoubtable brushed off onto his granddaughter, and Cate reminisces on his constant uplifting support.
“I just play my own game and know that he’s always watching me and things like that,” said Cate. “Just knowing not to get down on myself and know that I have someone to look up to.”
Her grandfather’s encouragements can be seen in her game today. The memories Cate has playing Minnesota pond hockey with Jake not only provided her with cherished moments, but excitement that she incorporates on the ice today.
Even though her grandfather excelled as a defenseman, Cate found her calling in being a forward. Their difference in position allowed Cate to understand a unique perspective on the game and learn a variety of skill sets.
“We had a rink out in our old house, there was a big pond and we skated out there,” Cate recalled. “I remember skating on it with him and practicing my backwards skating. He always wanted me to be a good backwards skater since I never played defense, and he did.”
Cate’s time at the USA Hockey – Biosteel Girls 15 Player Development Camp has allowed her to showcase her prowess and use the guidance her grandfather has passed on to her. Describing herself as a team-first playmaker, Cate’s had a crucial hand in the Green Team’s success this week at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, as the group has outscored their opponents 9-3 over three games as of Friday morning.
Although physically unable to cheer on his granddaughter anymore, Jake McCoy made sure his presence would always be felt by his granddaughter in a variety of ways, but especially in the case of a special notebook.
“I always remember after the games he would hug me and say I played a really good game,” Cate recalled. “When he passed away, we discovered he would always bring a notebook to my games, and he would write in the book every game: ‘best game she’s ever played.’ Even though it probably wasn’t, he would still write it was my best game ever. It’s kind of cool to have that, re-reading his notebook, and to be able to see his intake on when he got to watch.”