One of Meghan Duggan’s most prized possessions is a cereal box. It’s not just any cereal box, though.
The box depicts the gold medal-winning U.S. women’s hockey team from the 1998 Olympics in Nagano. It’s an important piece of memorabilia from her youth, something that helped inspire her career as a professional hockey player. The current captain of the U.S. national team also seeks out a gold medal of her own.
“When I set the goals and dreams for myself to make this team, I used to look at that box a lot and think how cool it would be to be on a box like that one day,” she said.
Now Duggan is living out that dream of seeing her likeness on boxes of Special K and Corn Flakes as a member of Team Kellogg's and the #GetMeStarted campaign, which strives to help people accomplish their goals. Heading to her third Olympics, she’s one of four athletes the cereal giant has put on their boxes in the lead up the to PyeongChang Games, along with figure skater Nathan Chen, snowboarder Kelly Clark and Paralympic snowboarder Mike Schultz.
“I would say it's one of the coolest things I’ve seen in my career,” she said. “To see my face on a cereal box, I know my family loves it and they think it's really fun. It's an honor to be a part of it and it was pretty cool to see for the first time.”
As cool as it is for Duggan and her family, she hearkens back to what her prized cereal box means to her, and how seeing her likeness could help inspire the next generation of Olympic athletes.
"I was inspired by powerful women on a cereal box when I was a kid, so I think having an opportunity to be that powerful woman on a cereal box that kids can look up to and be inspired by is something that fills my heart," she said. “Myself and my teammates, we talk a lot about being a part of something that's bigger than ourselves, and that's a part of our mantra within our team, and with that comes inspiring the next generation. Our team takes that incredibly seriously.”
Look no further than the USWNT boycott of the IIHF Women's World Championships earlier this year. The team’s biggest asks of USA Hockey– fair wages and equitable support– centered around helping future players and improving things for those who pull on the Team USA jersey next. The team’s unified front and passion not only led to an agreement with USA Hockey, but also provided a tighter bond and a championship performance over rival Canada at the Worlds.
It was the latest sterling performance for Duggan and her teammates at the IIHF tournament, though the U.S. has had considerably less luck against the Canadians when it comes to the Olympics. The Americans have settled for silver in 2002, 2010 and 2014, as well as a bronze in 2006. Despite falling in a heartbreaker of a final in Sochi in 2014, Duggan insists there’s no weight on her shoulders as the U.S. looks to break the Canadian grip on gold.
“It's no secret to the sports world or the women's hockey world that our team in the last Olympics came up short of our ultimate goal,” she said. “I think in life, when you come up short of your ultimate goal, what you need to do and what we did, was took time to look ourselves in the mirror. As individuals, as a team, as a program and just ask ourselves why, 'Why did that happen? Why did we not achieve what we wanted to achieve?' And continue to ask yourself those questions.”
"What's important to me, what's important to the team: What am I made of? What are we made of? Being able to answer those questions over the last three and a half years, at team events or training camps or meetings, has really shaped the culture and the mindset of our locker room and how we show up and go to work every day. How we prepare and how we've put ourselves in a position going into the next Games to achieve the ultimate goal of winning a gold medal.”
With the Olympics rapidly approaching, Duggan is leading her teammates through a series of friendlies with their border-sharing rivals, as well as a title run at the Four Nations Cup (the U.S. won the final game over Canada, of course). While PyeongChang gold is their ultimate goal, the captain is careful not to get ahead of what's already right in front of her.
"The media and everyone loves to talk about the U.S. and Canada rivalry," she said. "It's certainly a historic rivalry. You can't overlook any opponent, you can't always look to a gold medal game or look to a certain game."
It takes a day-by-day process, and for Duggan that means finding inspiration to start things off. It means writing down her goals in a fresh journal entry, meeting, practicing and working out with teammates, preparing for that next game.
And yes, even finding inspiration in something as simple as a box of cereal in the morning.