Ice hockey-PWHL triumph bigger than trophies, says Coyne Schofield

By Thomson Reuters Jun 6, 2024 | 3:46 PM

By Amy Tennery

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Kendall Coyne Schofield collected a fine piece of hardware at the end of the Professional Women’s Hockey League’s (PWHL) inaugural season but the real prize for the three-times Olympian may have been building a path forward for her sport.

The Olympic gold medallist scored in her Minnesota team’s 3-0 Game 5 victory over Boston last week to hoist the Walter Cup in front of a sold-out crowd.

“For me, with this league, it was never about playing in it. It was never about winning it. It was about building it,” Coyne Schofield told Reuters.

She was a founder of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA), a non-profit organisation that brought in some of the world’s top players frustrated by inadequate pay and resources elsewhere.

Years of fighting for her sport yielded results in July, when Coyne Schofield helped negotiate a collective bargaining agreement less than six months before the puck dropped in the league’s first game on Jan. 1.

“We were all drinking from a fire hose,” said Coyne Schofield. “With more of a runway going into year two and having a year under our belt, it’s only going to get better.”

The year has also brought personal satisfaction, as the six-times world champion gave birth to her son 11 months ago.

She worked out daily until the day before giving birth, staying on the ice through 31 weeks of her pregnancy and scooping up a free agency spot as a new mother. Remarkably, she played her first PWHL game in January.

“I did go to Minnesota as a kind of a single mom because my husband (NFL player Michael Schofield) was in Detroit… that’s kind of the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” she said.

“I just realized how resilient moms are and, how honestly we’re capable of doing literally anything.”

(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York, editing by Ed Osmond)