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Girl hockey player has right stuff

April 19, 1999

Alli Zube on iceBy ANDREA BROWN-HURLEY / Staff Writer

photos: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer




WILLIAMSPORT - The gold medal implies it, but the T-shirt spells it out: Don't Tell Me What I Can't Do.

Nine-year-old ice hockey player Alli Zube lives by the motto emblazoned on her shirt, following in the footsteps of her idol, Olympic gold medalist Cammi Granato.

The third-grade honor student at Salem Avenue Elementary School is the only girl on her team, which plays in the Hagerstown Youth Hockey Association at the Hagerstown Ice and Sports Complex.

She doesn't mind at all.

Energetic and articulate, Zube plays hockey, soccer, baseball and has a purple belt in karate. She said she believes she can be anything she wants to be.

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"I might be a teacher, or an artist, or a hockey player," she said. "Or maybe all three."

To remind her of her limitless potential, Alli keeps a limited edition replica of Granato's gold medal on her desk. The medal was a gift from the registrar of the U.S.A. Hockey Association, said Judy Zube, Alli's mother.

Alli and her medalHe sent the medal after Alli's aunt wrote him to request a Granato poster for her niece's March 17 birthday, Judy Zube said.

She said the registrar was touched by the letter and called Alli's aunt.

"He said the medal was just collecting dust on his desk, and he would rather Alli have it to inspire her," Judy Zube said. "In its place, he wants to put a picture of Alli holding the medal," she added.

Alli said the medal is really special because Granato has one just like it.

She said her appreciation of the gold medalist bloomed as she followed the Olympic Women's team during the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan.

Granato proved her leadership abilities as the team's captain and her athletic prowess as the high scorer. The Olympic champion might be in a different league than her young fan, but the commemorative medal isn't Alli's only link to her hero.

"She's sort of like me," Alli said. "When she started playing, it was with all boys."

At age 4, Alli said she watched her father play hockey in a Frederick, Md., league. Her interest was sparked.

"It looked really fun," she said.

She began learning the basics of the sport at age 6 and has been playing in the Hagerstown league ever since. She loves zooming across the ice and being part of a team.

Alli said she doesn't get treated differently because of her gender.

Her Beanie Babies rest in the shadow of the homemade hockey stick stand in her bedroom, outnumbered by hockey posters, trophies and team pennants.

Much of a recent family vacation in Canada was spent exploring that country's rich hockey heritage, Judy Zube said. Her daughter and husband spend countless evenings glued to televised hockey games, she added.

Alli said she held her own at an all-male hockey camp last summer. She said her skating was timed at 15 mph. She strengthened her leg muscles by donning a harness and pulling coaches across the ice.

The sharp-skilled Alli served as the assistant captain of a team that placed second in a tournament held in Bowie, Md., on March 27-28.

Her jersey for that match bore Grenato's number.

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