INDUCTEE 2013 – In 1976, the town’s skating rink in Byram was named in honor of Dorothy Hamill after the Riverside native won the Olympic figure skating gold medal. Twenty-six years later, a second resident’s name was added to the facility when the roadway leading into the rink was named Sue Merz Way in tribute to the two-time Olympic medalist with the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team.
Merz, a Pemberwick native, was defenseman on the U.S. team that won the gold medal in 1998 when the sport made its debut in the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, and then brought home the silver medal following the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.
As a 13-year member of the U.S. Women’s National Team, Merz has been among some of the pioneering figures in women’s ice hockey. Growing up in Greenwich, she tagged along with her brother, Jean-Claude, to play in neighborhood pick-up games and, with no organized league for girls at that time, she played with the boys in the Greenwich Blues club program and at what was then Western Middle School. While attending Greenwich High School, where she played field hockey and softball, Merz joined the Hartford-based Polar Bears, an under-18 girls team that won the 1990 national midget title.
While a senior at GHS, Merz, at the suggestion of her Polar Bears coach, attended an open tryout for the U.S. National team in 1990 and went on to play for the U.S. until retiring following the 2002 Games. Merz earned an ice hockey scholarship to the University of New Hampshire, where she recorded 53 goals and 54 assists in her four seasons before graduating in 1994 with a degree in psychology and sociology.
Merz was selected to the U.S. team for the 1998 Winter Olympics, tallying a goal and five assists in six games as the U.S. beat Canada, 3-1, to win the gold medal — the only one the U.S. has won. Merz was again back on the ice as a member of the U.S. team in Salt Lake City, but this time it was Canada defeating the U.S. for the gold, 3-2.
Merz has six world championship silver medals to go with her Olympic gold and silver. She and her 1998 gold medal teammates were also inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009. The Town of Greenwich honored Merz in a ceremony on Dec. 9, 2002 at the Hamill rink, where her No. 7 jersey was retired and hoisted to the rafters and town officials announced they were renaming the street leading into the rink as Sue Merz Way….