Granato grew up in LaGrange, Illinois, in the 1950s playing catch
with her dad, who played minor league ball. However, because there
were no sports for girls, Natalie became a cheerleader and sang
in the school opera. She also met Don Granato. Their first date
was a Blackhawks hockey game.
They had six children,
all of whom played hockey. Cammi began playing hockey to fill in
for her three older brothers who needed a fourth teammate. It was
then as a youngster that Cammi assumed she would become a Blackhawk.
It never occurred to Cammi (or her brothers at that point) that
girls could not play professional hockey.
Tony overcame a
life-threatening injury in 1996 to return to active duty with the
San Jose Sharks. He retired from hockey last year and is now color-commentating.
Cammi won an Olympic Gold medal in 1998 and a silver in 2002.
Natalie says that
she has influenced Cammi that she can be a lady no matter what she
does - and that Tony can achieve anything if he works hard enough.
Natalie has estimated
that she has driven at least 48,472 miles to and from hockey games,
yelled herself hoarse at over 10,000 games and kissed 349 hockey
boo-boos. She is still counting....