Megan Bozek may be an Olympic athlete who’s competed on the world stage, but her ties to her hometown of Buffalo Grove remain strong.
An estimated 500 of her local fans and supporters turned out Sunday at the Buffalo Grove Park District’s Community Arts Center to welcome Bozek back from Beijing, where she won a silver medal with the U.S. women’s hockey team.
Bozek signed autographs and took photos, and even let some fans try on her medal. It’s Bozek’s second medal, having also won silver at the 2014 Sochi Games.
Among those who showed up were family members and former neighbors from the Rolling Hills neighborhood where she grew up.
“It’s so inspiring for the kids to know that someone from our area can go on to greatness,” Buffalo Grove resident Patricia Gobel said.
Buffalo Grove village Trustees David Weidenfeld and Gregory Pike attended, as did Park Board President Scott Jacobson and state Sen. Adriane Johnson.
Denice Monell, Bozek’s second grade teacher at St. Mary School in Buffalo Grove, had her former student sign a hockey puck that she had given her as a present.
“Just knowing that I’ve got their support really makes me want to give back and share it with them,” Bozek said.
She met and shared advice with several young athletes, including hockey players.
Asked what motivates her, Bozek said, “The love of doing it.”
“You have to love something to do it for this long, right?” she said. “I’ve been skating for almost 28 years. The moment I don’t love it is the moment I’ll step away.”