By Brad Schlossman, Forum News Service
WARROAD — T.J. Oshie moved from the Seattle area to Warroad as a high school sophomore.
The coaching staff had several weeks to watch Oshie skate and evaluate his play before the prep season started.
“Quite frankly, when he got to Warroad, either I’m an awful judge of talent or he wasn’t very good,” said Cary Eades, the head coach of the Warriors boys team at the time. “I put him on our fourth line.”
Oshie was barely a varsity player when the season started. By the end of the year, things had changed quite a bit.
“He was pretty scrawny and he started to grow,” Eades said. “He started to get ice time every day. Being the rink rat he is, he took off. By the end of the season, he was one of the most dominant players in the state. He was a big reason why we won the state tournament that year.”
Oshie figured out the secret to success in Warroad — unlimited ice time.
His female classmate, Gigi Marvin, figured that out years earlier.
By the time Oshie arrived, Marvin was one of the state’s most dominant players already. She spent hours on ice every day honing her skills and developing into an elite forward.
“Gigi was at every open hockey,” Eades said. “She skated outside a lot. She was extremely committed. A lot of her inspiration was Natalie Darwitz. She was up a few times in Warroad both with the Olympic team and doing other things. Those were the first two women’s players, at that time, that I came across who were that committed — equal to or higher than the highest boys players.”
Talent, skill and countless hours on the ice in Warroad have led Oshie and Marvin to hockey’s biggest stage — the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
They are Olympians No. 7 and No. 8 from the small town near the Canadian border, and they are the first Warroad High School classmates to compete in the Olympic Games together.
That’s also good karma for the U.S.
The American men have never won Olympic gold without a Warroad player on the roster.
In 1960, it was Billy and Roger Christian. In 1980, Dave Christian was on the Miracle on Ice team.
Now, it is Marvin’s and Oshie’s turn.
Marvin and Team USA women opened play early Saturday morning against Finland. Oshie and the American men start Thursday morning against Slovakia.
It’s quite the climb for Oshie, who nearly ended up on junior varsity when he moved to Warroad.
“He was the biggest rink rat,” Eades said. “He would be out there with the squirts, doing drills with them. It was great interaction. You would almost have to throw him out of the rink (to get him out). It would be scary to count up how many hours he spent there — mostly in the Olympic rink, which wasn’t very nice at the time.”
It’s Oshie’s first Olympic Games and Marvin’s second.
And their story is beginning to be told nationally. They have appeared in ESPN The Magazine and the New York Times,
“It’s a pretty neat honor for such a small community to have two people in the same class playing in the Olympics together,” Eades said.