Among those cheering on team USA to a gold in Women's Hockey was a little girl from Pekin. One of the reasons she's so passionate about the sport? She plays. And, now she and her dad are sharing their story and their unique bond in the hopes of raising money for their local ice rink, Pekin Memorial Ice Arena.
At just 5 years old, Kynlie Billingsley's hockey equipment is almost a third of her body weight.
"She probably weighs 48 pounds. And I carry that bag home. It's heavy! So I mean, I bet it weighs 10-15 pounds!" exclaims her Dad, Phil.
Having played since she was 3, the weight of the gear doesn't seem to bother her. Although, if she had to pick the toughest part of the sport? When asked what the hardest part of playing is, she simply replied, "Holding the stick."
Of course that hasn't deterred this pint-sized player from following in her father's ice skates. Now Kynlie's coach, Phil once played at the same rink in Pekin, going on to win State and place second in the nation. But, believe it or not, it wasn't her Dad who inspired her. Instead, it was an animated movie featuring a little girl who loves ice hockey.
"She was watching the movie Inside Out one day and she goes, 'Dad, I want to play hockey.' I'm like, 'well, she's my last child, the youngest, let's do it,'" Phil explains.
One of seven kids, Kynlie is actually the only one who plays, making for some special daddy-daughter moments.
"It means the world to me. Not only do I get to come out here and to that with her, but she's playing in the position that I played," her Dad shares.
As a goalie just like Phil, Kynlie's eyes were glued to team USA and especially their goalie during the Olympics. And watching the women skate away with the gold has only reinforced her love for the game.
After being asked if she wanted to continue playing, Kynlie nodded. And when we asked for how long, she replied, "Till I'm 500!"
You can vote for this daddy-daughter duo in a contest on pure hockey dot com, here: https://www.purehockey.com/homeice?hostedapptype=fbcontestsisotope&showentry=2819960#_=_
"If you go there and vote for our story we will get $5,000, that all comes back to this rink. Upgrade for boards, glass, equipment, whatever else," says Phil. You can vote once a day, every day, till the contest ends March 31st.