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Grand Rapids Griffins staffer follows dreams of going pro

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- It's certainly not just the players of the Grand Rapids Griffins that have skills on the ice - their staffers do too.  Tara Boliard is well on her way to showing that.

Boliard works as a season ticket sales account executive for the Griffins during the regular season and now is being invited to be on the ice with the National Women's Hockey League. The 28-year-old forward and defenseman will be showing her stuff on the ice in one of the three free agent camps that the NWHL offers in Buffalo, New York on June 24 to 26.

"It took a good 24 hours to process," said Boliard after she read her email invitation. "I'm in between obviously staying for a career and pursuing hockey as a career."

Boliard began playing ice hockey at the age of 13, after playing roller hockey with neighbors when she was 9. She went on to captain the Davenport University Panthers while earning her Sports Marketing Degree.

"I really just play every chance that I get," said Boliard. “Lots of morning gym time, morning skates, lunch skates, drop ins, men’s league which I’m in.”

During the end of her academic and athletic career at Davenport, Boliard spent the 2014-2015 season with the Griffins as an inside sales intern. She finished her internship as the top ticket and revenue-producing group sales intern in the department's history.  Her last season with the AHL is ending with the projection that she will finish third in new season ticket sales.

“It really is just a family," Boliard said. "The office is a family and I mean just being around hockey, I can’t really argue, that became a career for me.”

In preparation for her big moment at the first round of try outs next month, Boliard will be resigning from her position with the Griffins Friday to start full-time training on and off the ice.

“My biggest thing is I want to be as good as the best person in the league," said Boliard. "I know there’s Olympians and you know if I’m going to compete in the league I have to be as good as them."

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