AYER -- "U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!"
That was the chant students at Page Hilltop Elementary School used to welcome two special guests on Tuesday.
Olympians Molly Schaus and Shelly Picard, Massachusetts natives on the U.S. Women's Hockey Team, talked about the Sochi Olympics and what it took to get there to a crowd of students eager to hold their silver medals. Schaus is from Natick and Picard is from Taunton.
Schaus, who has been to the Sochi and Vancouver Olympics, said she wanted to play hockey with her brothers when she was younger. But the only way they would let her play, she said, was if she was in the net.
"So I've been a goalie for the last 17 years and my brothers take all the credit for it," she said.
Picard's brother was also a source of inspiration.
"I was just always there watching my brother play and I wanted to be just like him," she said.
Picard said she first wanted to compete in the Olympics when she watched the 2002 Olympics at age 9.
"Right then, I knew that's what I wanted to do," she said.
Schaus said she was also 9 when she woke up at 6 a.m. to watch the gold medal game of the 1998 Olympics in Japan. She later went to school and told everyone her plans.
"It was in the back of my mind always," she said, but added that it does not happen overnight.
Students learned about the hours of training and years of preparation that the athletes must endure.
One student asked the two Olympians their favorite part of the Sochi Olympics.
For Picard, it was the first time she stepped onto the ice and saw "Sochi 2014" everywhere.
"Just sharing that moment with my teammates, that we were finally here, finally able to play the sport we loved," she said.
Picard, 20, is attending Harvard University and is already back to training for the school hockey season.
Meanwhile, 26-year-old Schaus, who graduated Boston College in 2011, said she is trying to figure out what is next.
The two were part of the U.S. team that took home the silver medal this year in Sochi, Russia. Students later got to take turns holding the medal and posed for pictures with the two athletes.
Fourth-grader Sergio Soto said it was cool to meet the hockey players. The amount of time they practiced shows that they were not fooling around, he said.
"It shows that they really worked hard on it," he said.
Fourth-grader Lorelei Folger said, "They had a goal and they needed to achieve it, and that's really cool," she said.
Principal Fred Deppe left students with an applicable message that they can learn from the two star female athletes.
"Nobody can tell you not to go after your goal and not to achieve it," he said. "These girls are living proof of it."
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