By Andy Merritt
The Aly Raisman World Tour came to TD Garden in January, and the Needham, Mass., gymnast who won Olympic gold in London last summer traded her red, white and blue leotard for a custom Bruins jersey to support the hometown team.
Raisman and her U.S. gymnastics teammates became the center of the sporting world’s attention after winning the second women’s team gold medal in U.S. history (Raisman followed up with gold in the individual floor exercise and bronze in the balance beam). The self-dubbed “Fierce Five” garnered attention from various different corners of the media world, as well as endorsements and invites to meet dignitaries including President Obama.
For the first two games of the Bruins’ season, the dignitaries on Raisman’s itinerary were the Bruins themselves. The gymnast visited the locker room after the season-opening win over the New York Rangers on Jan. 19, and two days later enjoyed a standing ovation from the crowd, plus a stick tap from the team, while dropping the ceremonial first puck before the B’s shootout win over Winnipeg.
It was a thrill for the longtime Bruins fan. “Yeah, I used to come to the Bruins games with my dad all the time when I was little,” said Raisman, whose father, Rick, also played hockey — as does her brother Brett, 15. “To be back and to be able to cheer them on means a lot.”
Raisman drew a little extra attention last year after she and Tyler Seguin shared some mutual admiration over Twitter. Asked to name her favorite Bruins, past and present, Raisman said, “Well, I think everyone knows who my favorite player is now,” with a sheepish grin.
While the rumors of romance between the two young athletes may have been just rumors, Raisman did get to join Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton for one of his famous boxing training sessions during the lockout.
“He’s a really nice guy. All of the players were so nice, so down to earth,” Raisman said. “It was just really cool and exciting to be able to meet them because I’m obviously a huge fan.”
Raisman trains at the same gym as Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli’s daughter, Talia.
This article originally appeared in the February 2013 issue of New England Hockey Journal.