Quite possibly the most popular American women’s hockey player today, Hilary Knight continues to capture the imagination of hockey fans the world over. From serving as one of the catalysts on the offensive squad for Team USA, Knight’s efforts recently culminated with the prestigious Bob Allen Award from USA Hockey.
While Knight is emerging as a role model and an inspiration for many young players, Knight’s allure has taken on a different complexion. For the 2014 edition of ESPN Magazine’s Body Issue (released on July 11), Knight was among a group of over 20 athletes (male and female) to grace its pages.
By the magazine’s release, the article on ESPNW concerning Knight’s appearance had over 35,000 likes, evidence as to her status as one of the shining stars for female sport in America. Of note, Knight joins other famous female athletes that have appeared in ESPN’s Body Issue over the years such as Ronda Rousey, Diana Taurasi, Abby Wambach and Serena Williams.
Taking into account that the athletes who appear in the highly popular Body Issue are out of uniform, appearing in such condition is a highly personal move. Of the three photo shoots that Knight engaged in, the iconic image selected for the Body Issue was a locker room photo. Wearing only her skates, while her famous USA Hockey jersey with the number 21 gracing its glorious back hangs in the distance, an undressed Knight is captured lacing up.
Of note, the popular Canadian television talk show “The Social” actually discussed Knight’s appearance in the Body Issue. The focus of the discussion was on the diversity of the athlete’s body types, including burly baseball player Prince Fielder (who appears on one of the collectible covers) along with Paralympic bronze medalist Amy Purdy.
Popular host Melissa Grelo would tap into the love that the widely Canadian audience has for hockey by mentioning Knight’s appearance. She talked about how Knight increased her body mass to 185 pounds, adding muscle to her frame for the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
Discussing Knight’s perception of body image (how she felt muscular may not have been feminine), Grelo wraps up by adding how Knight felt it was ok to be fit and healthy and comfortable within your body. It would result in a heartwarming round of applause from the audience and the panel.
In a career filled with remarkable highlights, scoring titles and championships at the NCAA and IIHF levels, Knight’s photo is a visual commentary on body image myths and the ability to proudly show that muscle and definition can be feminine and beautiful. The ability for Knight to display remarkable courage by sharing her own struggles with body image while providing an empowering and courageous tableau for the ESPN Body Issue represents a remarkable internal strength and confidence may certainly be her greatest and most inspiring victory.