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Indigenous hockey player from the Soo "Roques" the Winter Olympics

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Nancie Battaglia/Nancie Battaglia
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Abby Roque

SAULT STE. MARIE, MI— A Sault Ste. Marie native is making a huge splash on the ice in the Beijing Olympics.

Abby Roque, 24, is a rookie forward on the U.S. women’s hockey team. But she’s also the first Native American to play for the women’s team and one of only a few Indigenous people ever to compete in the Winter Games for Team USA.

Roque’s father Jim was the head hockey coach at Lake Superior State University from 2004 to 2015. Her uncle Larry is Chief of the Canada-based Wahnapitae First Nation. And Abby Roque wants to use her visibility to get more young minority players involved in the sport.

The City of Sault Ste. Marie urged residents to show their support for Roque during Team USA’s first game Thursday with window decorations and good luck messages. It seems to have worked, as the U.S. beat Finland, 5-2.

Nicole was born near Detroit but has lived in the U.P. most of her life. She graduated from Marquette Senior High School and attended Michigan State and Northern Michigan Universities, graduating from NMU in 1993 with a degree in English.