Keeping focus through hours and hours of grueling practice. Pushing your body through fatigue and frustration to perfect every move. Putting every aspect of life on hold to pursue a goal that only a handful of people in the world will ever accomplish.
This is the life of the Olympic athlete, a life of hard work and sacrifice dedicated to the quest for a gold medal.
Former Princeton women's hockey head coach Lisa Brown-Miller exemplifies this dedication, representing the United States at the Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, as the oldest member of the American team.
Still undefeated in the Olympic debut of women's hockey, Brown-Miller and her teammates are expected to secure a berth in the gold-medal game against rival Canada. The team has already soundly defeated China, 5-0, and Sweden, 7-1.
But the road to Nagano and the chance for Olympic gold required Brown-Miller to live a life singularly devoted to her sport, placing both her professional and personal lives on hold. A member of the National team since its inception in 1990, the 31-year old forward from Michigan gave up her coaching position at Princeton to train full-time, and eventually won a position on the Olympic team. Between coaching Princeton and training, little time remains to spend with her husband of three years.
Because of Brown-Miller's sacrifice and passion for the sport, she was a role model for her young Tiger players. She came to Princeton in 1991 after an outstanding collegiate career at Providence College where she was selected to the All-Eastern College Athletic Association team three times.
"She taught us about what you have to give up to be on a college team," said junior forward Erin O'Dea, who was a freshman during the last year of Brown-Miller's tenure at Princeton. "We got to see someone do it instead of just say it. You could see her dedication."
Brown-Miller led the Tigers to a 65-45-5 overall record in seven seasons. As a former college player, she could identify with her young team.
"I hadn't seen that many women players," O'Dea said. "She had so much experience. She had been in the same position as we were as college players."
Brown-Miller also understood the difference between men's and women's hockey, a distinction that is surfacing more recently in light of the women's game's first appearance at the Olympic Games. While very intense and physical, the lack of bodychecking in women's hockey creates more fluid play that utilizes strategy and play development more than forceful contact.
As a veteran on the Olympic team, which includes several current ECAC players, Brown-Miller will be relied upon to fulfill a leadership role as the team advances through the tournament and towards their expected appearance in the gold-medal game.
And if Brown-Miller and her team are atop the medal podium when the Star-Spangled Banner is played, she will know that all her sacrifices have paid off.