ST. LOUIS — 2022 is not Jincy Dunne's first skate for Team USA's women's hockey team.
The O'Fallon, Missouri, native made the national team when she was 16 years old. But it didn't go as well as she had hoped. She was cut, and then other opportunities followed though.
Dunne later won gold at the IIHF U18 Women's World Championships in 2015, dropped a puck at a St. Louis Blues game and played college hockey. Then the pandemic came, changing everything.
"When my season in college was canceled, I really did consider quitting and kind of hanging up the skates," Dunne said.
But her family helped her keep those skates on the ice. Skating with her five brothers and sisters reignited her desire for the game. Dunne realized she loved the sport too much to give up on it. Besides, family is how she got her will to win in the first place. Dunne said everything was a competition and everything was a contact sport in her family, including meals.
"I mean if you weren't reaching your hand in there quick, you weren't eating," she recalled.
Now, the St. Charles County native is once again competing with Team USA. She got back on the team this past June and is living out the dream she had as a little girl.
"Watching the 2010 Olympics, watching the women, I thought to myself, 'That's something I would really like to do,'" she told 5 On Your Side.
And now Dunne's finally doing it.
The pursuit has been long. Disappointments made for some rough ice, with Dunne admitting she was discouraged many times. But those tough times also made her stronger. She said at the end of the day, as long as you're grateful, those rough spots are really going to refine your character.
And as Team USA fights to defend its title, with the members competing for gold, Dunne hopes her journey to the Olympics will serve as an example. She wants her play and her attitude to bring inspiration to other girls with big dreams.
"Being a role model, it's a big deal and not something to be taken lightly," she said, adding that it's a privilege she wants to steward well.