With three Olympic Winter Games under her belt, a lot is known about U.S. women’s hockey forward Hilary Knight. Her impressive playing abilities started at the age of 5 when she first picked up a hockey stick — even though she was born into a skiing family. Her parents only tried skates for the first time when their daughter took up the sport.
Fast-forward 15 years and at 20 she was the youngest U.S. player competing at Olympic Winter Games Vancouver 2010. Her long resume includes nine world championship medals (only two of which are not gold), 11 Four Nations Cup medals (six of which are gold) and three Olympic medals – two silvers and a gold that was earned last month and returned the U.S. to the top of the Olympic podium for the first time in 20 years.
Impressed already? Here are five more things you didn’t know about Knight.
Hilary Knight celebrates after defeating Canada in the women's ice hockey gold-medal game at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on Feb. 22, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea.
1. She’s Terrified Of The Dark
Despite now being one of the older players on the team, Knight admitted that at 28 years old, she is still “terrified of the dark.” In fact, she even sleeps with some form of nightlight.
With a hectic travel schedule that keeps her on the road for most of the year, she said there are a couple reasons why she doesn’t travel with one. “Now they have little lights in the bathroom, and my phone charger has a light on it,” she said.
If you think she fears teasing from her teammates, she said think again.
“I haven’t heard anything from my roommates — probably because I’m older. They’re like whatever, seniority,” she laughed.
2. She Has Seven Tattoos, And She’s Not Done Yet
While she has spent the past decade focused on winning medals, there is something else the Idaho native collects: tattoos. She has a lot of them — seven, to be exact. And she said she’s not done adding to her collection, either.
“I’ve talked about maybe getting some sort of a sleeve,” she said, “but the verdict is still out on that one. I have an idea of what I want to do but it depends on if I want to commit to that. It’s there forever. You can never regret doing it.”
So, what else does she have on her body forever?
The first tattoo she ever got is on her hip.
“I got it like my first week on college campus. It was a ‘don’t tell mom’ tattoo,” she remembered.
Her most painful tattoos were the two mustache tattoos she got on her finger, she said.
“The first one I got rubbed off because it was during the season and the equipment would rub it. The scab didn’t have enough time to heal,” she explained. So, naturally, she got it done again.
The reason she got it in the first place was because “during a very intense Olympic year, one of my former teammates and I would always try to bring the best out of one another. So I used a sharpie to draw a mustache on my finger. And then before we’d go into a draw, I’d turn back to her with a little mustache on my finger, and she’d laugh and I’d laugh. Finally, I was like, Why don’t I just get this tattooed so I don’t have to keep using a Sharpie on my finger?”
Her other tattoos include: the Olympic rings on her right shoulder, a tattoo on her forearm, one on her wrist and one down her rib cage that says “dum vigilo curo,” which is the motto under the coat of arms on her mom’s side of the family. It means “while I watch, I care” in Latin.
And then, surprisingly, her least painful tattoo was the third tattoo she got, and the first one she had done in her mouth.
“I’ve had it since college,” she lamented. “It didn’t hurt at all!”
3. Her Dog Is Her Best Friend
If you follow Knight on Instagram then you already know about her “chunk of love,” also known as her English bulldog, Winston. But when her self-described “big boy” — who weighs around 50 pounds — was younger, many didn’t know she would travel with him, even on airplanes.
“When he was a puppy, I traveled with him all the time,” she said. “Going through customs at the airport they didn’t even know he was in my bag. He’s so even-keeled and calm.”
She said she chose that breed for that exact reason.
“After I’ve trained all day, I don’t want to come home and exercise again,” Knight said. “But he is super active, and probably gets me to go outdoors more than I would if I didn’t have him. He likes to lounge, too.”
While having a dog is hard with her training and traveling schedule, she said she’s “really lucky to have friends and former teammates who want to babysit him when I’m gone. If you really want something, you can make it work. He’s the perfect life balance for me.”
4. She Struggles Hardcore With Downtime
Even between training, competing and everything else that comes with being an elite athlete, there is some downtime as well. Unfortunately, idle time is not something Knight knows how to handle.
“The name of the game right now,” Knight said leading up to the PyeongChang Games, “is to stay healthy and continue to train, which is probably the hardest thing to do …
“I feel like a child in many ways because I can’t sit still. It’s crazy. Usually if we’re on the beach or something I’ll be the one digging holes and trying to build stuff, just to keep myself occupied. I love throwing around a Frisbee or a football. I have to be doing something.”
Even in her car, she said, “I have to do something. I do a lot of books on tape, especially when I’m driving. Especially with traffic you’re just wasting your time in the car. So I’ve done the language learning programs, too. I speak Swedish, and I used to speak Spanish but I’m not as good. But I’m learning French right now.”
It was Knight’s first Olympic experience, in Canada, that piqued her interest in learning French.
“I heard it in the 2010 Olympic Games and I was like, what is this language? It sounded like they were singing,” she said.
5. She Must Always Have Access To Oatmeal And Yogurt
Olympic athletes are all about routines. So when it comes time to fuel up, Knight sticks to her trusted go-to foods.
“Oatmeal is kind of my thing on game days,” she revealed. “It’s just what I do. To make it not boring I add maple syrup and walnuts. And cinnamon is the key. …
“When we’ve traveled to different countries — especially when I was younger and had never been there before — I was super concerned that they wouldn’t have oatmeal. So I probably brought 10 boxes with me. Half of my suitcase was full of oatmeal.”
She has since stopped traveling with it, thanks to the team’s trainer who ensures it’s always available.
But Knight’s new obsession is yogurt. Hopefully she’s not trying to travel with that in her suitcase, too!