In a five-day span, Kendall Coyne marched in the frigid South Side Irish Parade, visited her old stomping grounds at Palos South Middle School, visited the Palos Heights Library, where she met U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski and was given a street sign in her honor by Palos Heights Mayor Bob Straz.
On the sixth day last week, she was treated to a huge hero's welcome at her high school alma mater, Sandburg, as thousands of screaming students crammed two assemblies in the Eagle gym to pay homage to the Olympic silver medal hockey player.
"It's definitely amazing to come back and see the support from everyone back home," she said after the second assembly, before getting ready to take a host of photos with students and teachers. "Of course, we didn't come away with the color of medal that we wanted to, but to come back here and share this experience with everyone here is great. They are all so excited and I hope it inspires someone who wants to follow their dreams one day.''
The Sandburg event featured some comedic moments as Coyne was able to shoot goals against Mike White, a longtime coach of several sports at the school. White was introduced as being from Canada and in the first assembly he sounded like a pro wrestler.
"The way I look at it, it's not real hockey like men's hockey," he said. "I will win!''
He then chided the U.S. Hockey team's effort against Canada, the eventual winner, to try to rile her up some more.
"I thought we won the gold because we were up with two minutes to go," he said.
Well, she shot more than a dozen pucks past him and the two shared a laugh after it was over.
During the second assembly, he abbreviated his comments to "I will win…maybe.'' and the result was similar.
Coyne graduated from Sandburg in 2010 and is attending Northeastern University. She is interning with the Chicago Blackhawks and was scheduled to be honored before a game against the Dallas Stars.
In the Olympics, the 21-year-old was a presence as she had two goals and four assists. Since, she's been getting a lot of attention and more is undoubtedly on the way.
"It doesn't get old," she said. "I think of all the hard work paying off and it's great to be a part of the experience. It's a real humbling experience. I'm glad I could put a smile on someone's face.''Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun