Thursday, November 09, 2006

Apprentice TV Show contestant hits the ice

Angela Ruggiero can't say, on pain of litigation, if Donald Trump fired her.
Ruggiero, a veteran defenceman on the U.S. women's hockey team, is one of the candidates on Season 6 of The Apprentice that starts airing in January.
The Apprentice is an NBC reality television show in which ambitious entrepreneurs showcase their business skills and try to one-up each other, in hopes that business-guru Donald Trump will hire them.
Candidates are eliminated when Trump tells them: "You're fired."
Ruggiero is currently playing for the U.S. team at the Four Nations Cup in Kitchener, Ont., and her lips are contractually sealed as to whether she avoided Trump's axe and became the next Apprentice. That will be revealed in the final episode in May.
"I won't even tell my mother," Ruggiero said. "I don't want their lawyers mad at me. I signed a big, fat agreement."
The three-time Olympian and gold medallist at the 1998 Olympics is arguably the best female defenceman in the world. Ruggiero was named top defenceman at the world championships in 2004 and 2005.
But did her hockey skills translate to the boardroom?
"I will say, I'm a huge advocate for girls playing sports, or anyone for that matter, because you learn so many skills that translate into the business world: team skills, having confidence, working with individuals under pressure," Ruggiero said, choosing her words carefully.
"There's all these things as an athlete I'm hopefully going to take that into my next career. It definitely helped."
But Ruggiero (ruh-JEER-oh) also has a degree in government from Harvard. She and Canadian forward Jennifer Botterill were Harvard teammates.
All teams had Thursday off at the Four Nations Cup. The round-robin concludes Friday with Canada (2-0) meeting Finland (0-2) and a game between the U.S. and Sweden (1-1).
The most recent edition of The Apprentice was taped in June and July in Los Angeles so, Ruggiero, born in Panorama City, Calif., felt right at home.
"I'm a valley girl," she laughed. "I went to Valleyview Junior High. I said 'like' all the time and 'dude.'
"I can tell you this is a totally new Apprentice. The tasks are totally new. It's L.A. style completely. They threw all these new twists in."
Ruggiero was voted onto The Apprentice in an NBC online poll during the Olympic Games in Turin, Italy. She received more votes than 11 other athletes put forward.
She and her brother Bill, a goaltender, became the first brother and sister tandem to play together in a professional hockey game in North America on Jan. 28, 2005, when they both played for the Central Hockey League's Tulsa Oilers.
The 26-year-old Ruggiero is coming to the end of her hockey career and she saw the opportunity to be on The Apprentice as a way to make the transition out of the sport.
"I'm trying to figure out my life right now, if I'm going to keep playing or not," she said. "Having this, maybe I'll win and maybe I won't."
Ruggiero has also been hired by New York Islanders owner Charles Wang to oversee Project Hope.
Wang, a Chinese-American, wants to develop hockey in China by building rinks, providing coaching and bringing Chinese players and teams to North America for development.
Ruggiero says Hockey Canada has helped with the project by providing its coaching manual for translation into Chinese.
The Chinese women's team has shown promise in the past, but hasn't been able to sustain it. Ruggiero says one goal of Project Hope is to develop youth hockey to strengthen China's national teams.
"If we can get it in place, five or 10 years from now they will have a great men's and women's program," she said.


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