A coffee barista from the Washington, D.C. suburbs is set to take the ice for her first Olympics in women’s hockey. But she won’t be suiting up for Team USA.
24-year-old Jessica Lutz, a former player for the University of Connecticut, instead will be playing for Switzerland, which is looking to improve upon its fifth-place showing four years ago in Vancouver. Lutz can do so because of her father’s nationality and her own status as a dual citizen.
She moved to Bern after graduating from UConn in 2010, taking note of the lack of opportunities to make the U.S. national team but still wanting to fulfill her Olympic dreams.
“I wanted to play at the highest level that I could,” Lutz said to National Public Radio. “It was always a goal to go to the Olympics, and so I figured out that my chances in Switzerland would be a lot better.”
Lutz has played for Swiss clubs DHC Lagenthal and EV Bomo Thun over the last three years, which fulfills a requirement for players outside of the country that they must compete for at least two seasons in the Swiss women’s hockey league before they’re eligible for the national side.
Last March, she moved back to the States, where she’s played for a mixed-gender team in a D.C.-based league and taken up morning shifts as a barista for a local shop called The Coffee Bar.
The two extremes are certainly quite different but to Lutz, who is now preparing for Sochi with the Swiss team, there’s an important common thread between them as well.
“Everyone needs to be on, doing their job and working well together. I think that’s the same for a hockey game,” she also said to NPR. “Everyone has to be doing their individual job for the team to succeed.”
Switzerland, a threat for the bronze, begins its Sochi schedule with a tough match-up on Feb. 8 against gold medal contender Canada.