American gold medalist’s skate inspired young girls to play hockey
Kendall Coyne Schofield became a trailblazer for women’s hockey with her skate at the NHL Skills Competition on Jan. 25 in San Jose. She replaced Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon in the fastest skater competition because he was out with a foot injury, becoming the first woman to officially compete in the skills competition.
With a time of 14.346 seconds, Coyne Schofield finished seventh out of eight skaters, ahead of the Arizona Coyotes’s Clayton Keller. She finished a second behind Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers, who’s won the event three years in a row.
The most impressive part of her skate was how she kept her feet moving all the way around the rink, and didn’t glide at all. Coyne Schofield is 5’2”, so she doesn’t have the same stride length that the 6’1” McDavid has. Any youth hockey coach should show their players Coyne Schofield’s skate to demonstrate what the perfect skating form looks like.
What Coyne Schofield did was more than just compete in a skating competition. She pushed the growth of women’s professional hockey a step further. The women’s hockey Olympic final is one of the most-watched hockey games in a calendar year—over 3.7 million Americans watched last year’s final, more than most NHL playoff games in 2017. Yet, the sport is almost forgotten in the years between Olympics.
Now, hopefully that will change. People are finally talking about women’s hockey outside the Olympics. Coyne Schofield’s skate also inspired girls watching, including one five-year-old who told her dad she wanted to do that.
Having role models to look up to is so important for the growth of women’s hockey. We just don’t hear enough about these hockey players, so when a girl sees one on TV and becomes inspired, it can make a world of difference.
— Lori Laurito Betz (@LoriLB73) January 26, 2019
There’s a lot more that needs to be done to expand women’s professional hockey to its full potential, such as merging the National Women’s Hockey League and Canadian Women’s Hockey League. Big TV companies also need to start broadcasting more games, or at least showing highlights on the morning sports shows, and there’s always the need to have more fans at games. NBC also had Coyne Schofield as an analyst during a broadcast on Jan. 30, which in itself could do wonders.
Women’s hockey still needs to get the recognition it deserves, but this is a start.