It's Wednesday morning at Planet Ice and Sage Smith is getting ready for the biggest week of her life.
"I've always loved it," Smith admits. "Waking up, working out, skating everyday. There's always room to improve. You can never be like the best."
The Lafayette native is one of 72 hockey prospects heading to the Team USA select camp for girls under 18 years old. And Smith is only 15.
A part of the team that helps Smith train is Dominique Kremer, who is a star with the Buffalo Beauts in the Premier Hockey Federation (formerly known as the NWHL). Kremer, who was once invited to the Team USA Camp, explains the significance.
"This is huge. This is massive," Kremer said. "I wasn't even close to that when I was her age. I made the U-18 camp when I was older. And I was, so scared and so intimidated. (She's) like 3 years younger than I was going into that. And way better, way more prepared, way more mature. (She's) ready across the board."
So how does someone from South Louisiana fall in love with hockey? For Smith, it all starts with family.
"My dad he was always into hockey," Smith explained. "Always had stuff to do with hockey. He played a little bit, but not much. My mom, she was also in competitive sports. She played basketball at LSU and UL."
Smith took the next leap toward her passion in the 8th grade, when she decided to attend Shattuck St. Mary's in Minnesota. The boarding school has one of the top hockey development programs in the world.
"I wanted to get in very bad," Smith confessed. "I was very nervous, wasn't sure. When I got in, it was one of the happiest days. When I came home, my parents were like, you made it? We were all screaming in the kitchen."
At Shattuck, Smith led her age group in points last season. And with Team USA this summer, she's one of only 5, 15 year olds invited to this camp. It's safe to say, Smith is on the right path to her ultimate dream.
"I wanna play in the Olympics," Smith said. "That's the goal for me. That's always been the goal for me since I started."
"We'll see her in the Olympics," Kremer added. "Sage is not just going to be a name and a face on the team. She's going to be the name, the face of the team. I genuinely believe that."
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