As hockey fans await the PWHPA Dream Gap showcase in St. Louis on Apr. 11 and 12, let’s look back on the impact of the tour’s New York and Chicago stops, and one of the most impactful players on the ice: Kendall Coyne Schofield.
Coyne Schofield was the name of the game in Chicago for Team Adidas. After the Saturday game in New Jersey, Team Adidas and Team Women’s Sports Foundation took to the ice in New York on Feb. 28 with a single-minded determination: to play incredible hockey, and earn points for their PWHPA hubs.
Team Adidas entered New York and Chicago with a 3-0 lead in total points, and left the showcase the same way they entered it, leading the PWHPA in points. Coyne Schofield’s on-the-ice leadership, big goals, speed and, yes, constant breakaways led her team to the sweep.
However, the PWHPA New York and Chicago games were more than just world-class hockey.
For some fans, this may have been the first time they’ve seen someone who looks like them play hockey on a national broadcast. The impact of these players and what they stand for is unmatched, and their impact on the future of the game for the next generation of hockey players unparalleled.
“When I go to the Blackhawks youth hockey camp, I want to be able to work with one of the boys and one of the girls and know that they can have the same dream as professional athletes in this game,” said Coyne Schofield, who works Chicago’s NHL franchise.
As awe-inspiring as these two weekends were, the real success is the one found in the community, not on the ice. By playing competitive games on international broadcasts in world-famous venues, the PWHPA is making sure everyone knows girls belong in hockey.
“I know what that feels like, and I would encourage them to get in the game, and encourage them to find those who support you, who support your journey, who support your dreams and your goals,” said Coyne Schofield. “There are going to be people who tell you, ‘You don’t belong,’ or you don’t see people who look like you, or you don’t see the path or the vision … I want a young girl to know she has a place in this sport, and she can make a living doing it, just like her brother, just like her teammate who’s a boy, just like anybody.”
Coyne Schofield’s emphasis on support shows just how important visibility and representation is for inspiring young hockey players. Coyne Schofield herself is an incredible role model for young players to look up to with her illustrious NCAA career at Northeastern University and an award-laden professional hockey career since 2007.
As a member of the USWNT, Coyne Schofield has six gold medals from the IIHF World Championships, and an Olympic gold medal from the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Her on-ice success is what led to her pursuing a role with the Chicago Blackhawks organization as a player development coach for their AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs.
Coyne Schofield is no stranger to breaking barriers in North American hockey — in 2019, Coyne Schofield skated in the NHL All-Star Skills fastest-skater challenge, becoming the first woman to ever compete in the NHL All-Stars weekend.
However, Coyne Schofield’s influence isn’t only in hockey — she’s a significant part of the NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars new investor group. This group is dedicated to investing in the development of a successful, world-class women’s professional sports team, which is a cause close to Coyne Schofield’s own personal experiences.
Her husband, NFL athlete Michael Schofield, will also be involved with the Chicago Red Stars leadership.
“As two professional athletes ourselves, we’ve had two very different experiences in the professional sports world … Our involvement is beyond capital,” Coyne Schofield told the Chicago Sun Times. “It’s about bringing awareness to the disparity between men’s and women’s professional sports.”
That passion and drive for highlighting the systemic inequalities between women’s and men’s professional sports is evident every time Coyne Schofield steps onto the ice for the PWHPA.
The organization made history when they held a game at the historic Madison Square Garden venue on Feb. 28, marking the first time professional women’s hockey has ever been played at MSG.
The next PWHPA showcase will be held in St. Louis, Miss. on Apr. 12. Hosted by the St. Louis Blues, this will be the first PWHPA 2021 season match-up featuring fans in attendance.