Look and listen closer — this one has a heavy medal backgroundA hockey mom from Wisconsin named Bonnie Cruikshank was in the area for most of the weekend.
She spent some time at the Arctic Ice Arena in Orland Park with her husband, Dave, cheering on their son, Grant, in a hockey tournament.
She wore bells.
She had horns.
“You have to come with your toys,” she said.
For the most part, she was able to roam around without people knowing that she was more than just a hockey mom.
Her maiden name is Blair. Bonnie Blair.
Yes, that Bonnie Blair.
Blair is a former Olympic speedskater who is one of the most decorated athletes in United States history with five gold medals and one bronze in her collection. She competed in four Olympics with her last one coming 20 years ago.
For a span of a decade, fans of the Olympics seemingly watched her grow up before their eyes and then she was gone from the public eye for 20 years, save for winning awards, bring named to various Halls-of-Fame and giving motivational speeches.
Blair took some time on Friday to stop by in Palos Hills and give a speech to Stagg High School students, hours after watching her son play. She is a couple of months shy of 50 and many people walk by her without knowing they were in the presence of a legend.
But she said some do recognize her.
“There are some people who do know who I am and people are very good to me,” she said. “They will come up and either congratulate me for representing the country or compliment me about my son.
“I’m pretty approachable and I didn’t do anything bad. But there are a lot of people who walk by me and they don’t know. It has been awhile. But the funny thing is that my voice can sometimes be a dead giveaway. People will say ‘I know that voice from somewhere.’ ”
Around the Orland and Palos area, she is known as Aunt Bonnie to some.
Blair’s niece is Christine Collins of Orland Park. Her great nieces are Shannon Collins, a former Stagg student now attending St. Xavier University, and Amanda Collins, a junior at Stagg who helped bring her famous aunt to the school to speak to some of her classmates in the school’s auditorium.
Although Shannon and Amanda never took to ice sports, they are both proud of their aunt’s accomplishments, even though all of her history was made before they were born.
“It is very cool because you go to her house and she has this huge coffee table with all of her gold medals,” Amanda said.
Blair also has a daughter named Blair.
“Don’t worry — she is Blair Cruikshank not Blair Blair,” Blair said.
Blair Cruikshank is a gymnast and Blair said “It’s different being involved in a sport where you are being judged,” she said.
And being a hockey/gymnastics mom is a learning experience.
“There are so many emotions you go through sitting there and you can’t control anything,” Blair said. “Now I know what my mother has gone through all of those years.”