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Being at the Olympics 'never gets old' for Simi Valley's Angela Ruggiero

February 11, 2010 | 12:55 pm

Angela Ruggiero
Four-time Olympic hockey player Angela Ruggiero said Thursday she hadn't become blase about participating in the Games even though she made her debut 12 years ago in the inaugural women's Olympic tournament at Nagano, Japan.

The 30-year-old defenseman, who began playing hockey in Simi Valley but moved east with her family to further her hockey career, said at a news conference Thursday that she considered quitting after the U.S. team won the bronze medal at Turin four years ago.

However, she said she renewed her love of the game after taking a few months off, and she joined Jenny Potter here as the only four-time hockey Olympians on the team.

"It never gets old," said Ruggiero, who returned to Southern California to work out last summer. "Having the experience of putting on this jersey and representing your country is like no other feeling in the world.

"Even as I look around this room, there's translators from four countries," she said, referring to the simultaneous translation provided for non-English-speaking journalists. "You go to the dining hall and there's all the other nations are there. Having that experience -- you're representing your country, but you're also bringing the world together, and it's one of the most amazing feelings.

"And especially being with this team. Hopefully, everyone gets to know our team. It's an unbelievable group. Really, a huge reason why I'm here is the chemistry that we have and the fun that we have in the locker room and the smiles that we share. And that's one of the most powerful parts about being in the Olympics, having that team unity."

More later on the women's team -- especially on Coach Mark Johnson, who last participated in the Games as a member of the champion 1980 Lake Placid team -- at www.latimes.com/sports.

-- Helene Elliott in Vancouver

Photo: Angela Ruggiero laughs while videotaping herself before a press conference in Vancouver. Credit: Kyle Terada / U.S. Presswire