Jan 27, 2022 - Sports

7 Floridians on Team USA in 2022 Olympics

Data: TeamUSA; Map: Axios Visuals

Florida is sending seven athletes to the Winter Games in Beijing next month, far more than any other southern state.

  • One athlete from the Tampa Bay area, Nathan Smith of Hudson, will play for Team USA in men's hockey.

What's happening: Smith, a junior center for Minnesota State, is believed to be the first NHL draft pick born in the Tampa Bay area and graduated from a local high school, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Why it matters: A product of the Lightning's youth program, his success is a win for pro hockey development in Tampa Bay.

  • Smith started playing roller hockey at 6, then ice hockey at 11 with the Tampa Scorpions and later at Mitchell High.
  • He was a prolific scorer in the Lightning High School Hockey League and played a few years for the USHL's Cedar Rapids RoughRiders before joining Minnesota State.

πŸ’­ Ben's thought bubble: We could see him in a Lightning jersey someday β€” a notion that seems all but impossible without a few decades of hockey building in Florida.

The rest of Team USA's Floridians:

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