Olympian Hilary Knight on Creating ‘A Better Path’ for Women Athletes

Hilary Knight is passionate about empowering other women athletes. The hockey player is gearing up for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing, but recently spoke with PEOPLE about how she believes the sports world can better help other women athletes.


Knight told PEOPLE that “being strong was sort of a knock against my femininity.” Though she has come to realize that, “it's one of those things that you realize, ‘oh my gosh, that's ridiculous!’” she said of the outdated notion that women in sports must choose between being feminine or athletic.


The athlete also believes there is still more work to be done in the sporting world in terms of gender equality.


“I don't think that I'd be waking up every single day, along with my teammates, trying to pave a better path for the next generation at the professional level and the national level [if things were equal]. Women do not have the same footing that men do right now,” Knight stated. “And I think that's just another hat that we wear… and hopefully that will change.”


Knight is an outspoken advocate of women's sports equality. She attributes her confidence in standing up to her support system, which she credits with giving her the courage to do so even when external pressures try to convince her otherwise.


Years ago, the athlete claims she received her “first taste” of the strength of women’s support when she jokingly shared a photo of herself on a gym scale.


“It was something that I felt uncomfortable with, just as a person,” Knight said of being urged to gain weight for her sport. “But I knew it was important for my role on the team,” Knight continued. According to Knight, the social media photo resulted in an outpouring of support from strangers everywhere.


In terms of the future, Knight is preparing for her first Olympic Games since competing in the global sporting event in 2018.


“It's crazy to think about, but I think I'm more hungry than I was before,” said Knight. “And I think a lot of that is [from either] COVID providing perspective in just wanting to be around the team even more, because we weren't allowed to, or if that was coming back from a foot surgery and saying I really want to do this and I want to come back better.”


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