GREENWICH, Conn. — Strauss Mann never expected to be called on to represent his country in the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Mann, 23, has played hockey all of his life starting in Greenwich, CT, then going to the University of Michigan where he made All Big-10 First Team and Second Team, and currently playing for Skelleftea AIK (SHL) in Sweden, going to Beijing for the Olympics is something he never could have imagined.
"It's pretty special getting to represent your country is one of the biggest honors there is and it's not something I never really thought about," says Mann. "To do it now at 23 for the first time and on this stage, representing smaller communities in Connecticut or my old schools or just coaches or friends, it's just pretty cool to see other people rally behind you."
Mann has been playing in Sweden for the past year for SHL and currently leads the league in save percentage at .930. He says that his experience playing professionally will help him in the Olympics.
"I think with every year you grow as a player and a person, so I feel prepared, but with the Olympics specifically, for sure it's paid huge dividends to be out here," Mann says. "Now I've been in Europe and there's a lot of guys in my league or in other leagues that we played with the Champions League that will be on these other countries teams. So it's not something I haven't seen before."
With the Olympic committee and NHL not coming to an agreement to allow NHL players to participate in the Winter Olympics for a second straight time, it allows college athletes as well as Americans who play abroad like Mann, to get an opportunity to represent their country and showcase their talent.
"I think with a lot of the college guys on my team it will be kind of shell-shock to understand the different styles of play they're gonna be going against and maybe going against some older guys, but I definitely have gotten to that learning curve a little earlier," says Mann.
Mann says that even with the team's overall lack of experience, due to the nature of the tournament being so short, he thinks that as long as Team USA plays their game it doesn't matter the expectation, you have a chance.
He says his family will be planning to get together in New York City to watch him play, as well as meeting in Utah with many other Olympic families to watch.
Mann will be flying out to Beijing on February 2nd and he'll meet up with the rest of his teammates who have already arrived in Beijing from Los Angeles once he gets there.
Daniel Dashefsky is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Have a story idea or something on your mind you want to share? We want to hear from you! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
HERE ARE MORE WAYS TO GET FOX61 NEWS
Download the FOX61 News APP
iTunes: Click here to download
Google Play: Click here to download
Stream Live on ROKU: Add the channel from the ROKU store or by searching FOX61.
Steam Live on FIRE TV: Search ‘FOX61’ and click ‘Get’ to download.