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Lake Zurich hockey prodigy invited to Olympian Mark Johnson’s camp

MadisZack 10 was captaVernHills Ice Dogs all-boys hockey team last seashas now been invited Olympian Mark Johnson's hockey camp. |

Madison Zack, 10, was captain of the Vernon Hills Ice Dogs all-boys hockey team last season and has now been invited to Olympian Mark Johnson's hockey camp. | Photo courtesy of the Zack family

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Updated: June 26, 2013 2:33AM

At age 10, Madison Zack of Lake Zurich already earned the rare distinction of being captain of her all-boys hockey team in Vernon Hills.

Now, she has her eyes set on the Olympics and a path to get there.

Madison earned an invite to U.S. hockey Olympian Mark Johnson’s youth hockey camp, which will happen in early August at the University of Wisconsin. Johnson, a former NHL player, coaches the University of Wisconsin–Madison women’s ice hockey team.

Madison outlines her goals bluntly:

“I want to play for Mark Johnson at the University of Wisconsin and then play in the Olympics some day,” she said.

Madison, who skates at Glacier Ice Arena in Vernon Hills, first fell in love with hockey when she was 4 years old and her family attended a relative’s high school game in Wisconsin.

“She immediately asked why she wasn’t playing,” said Tony Zack, Madison’s father. “We thought the urge would go away and it did for a year until we took her back to Wisconsin the next year. She was relentless after that and so we signed her up.”

As her little league hockey career progressed, Tony said the family began watching college hockey with Madison. Because her extended family lives in Wisconsin, Madison started favoring their college teams.

Wisconsin’s women’s team won the national championship in 2009 and 2011 and lost in the championship game in 2012 — that’s when Madison’s admiration for Johnson began.

During a recent interview on the “Steve Harvey Show,” Madison was shown a video message from Johnson himself.

“He congratulated her for the hard work and told her to never stop working for something she wants,” Tony said. “A former Olympian giving a private invite is astonishing.”

Madison’s Olympic goals were briefly in jeopardy when the fourth-grader recently saw a documentary that showed the U.S. Olympic hockey team running up a mountain in Colorado.

“She was stunned at first but eventually decided she could do it,” Tony said.

For now, Tony and his wife Kim are waiting to decide when Madison should switch into an all-girl league. They said body growth and the use of more contact over the years will make their decision.

Madison joins a new age group next season and will be on the younger end of the spectrum.

Tony and Kim also have an 8-year-old daughter who plays hockey, too.

“Being a father of two girls, I was always told that girls can do anything: be a mom, a captain of a boys hockey team or even a company CEO,” Tony said. “That’s the advice I’d give to other dads. Your girls can do anything.”

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