Kendall Coyne Schofield has never forgotten the impact Cammi Granato had on her childhood.
Coyne Schofield was 7 years old when she attended a hockey camp and met Granato shortly after the latter led the U.S. to its historic first Olympic gold medal in 1998. The encounter shaped Coyne Schofield’s career to the point where she is now where Granato once was: captain of the U.S. Women’s National Team. Coyne Schofield has captured six Women’s World Championship titles and won an Olympic gold medal of her own in 2018.
“I was one of those kids at the grassroots level of the game, looking for a role model, looking for someone to inspire me, to fuel my dream, and that was Cammi when I was 7 years old,” Coyne Schofield said. “I always think to myself, what would I be doing if I never met [Granato] in that moment, if I never saw her Team USA jersey or her Olympic gold medal. It always reminds me of how important it is to be accessible to the kids at the grassroots level, and the experience Cammi gave me as a 7-year-old at her hockey camp.”
Coyne Schofield did the same with three different girls teams in September, in addition to her fifth annual Kendall Coyne Hockey Camp during the summer. Coyne Schofield worked with the Chicago Mission — for which she played growing up — in addition to the Chicago Hawks and the Wilmette Hockey Program, while also donating her time to raise funds for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana.
“My favorite part of the game is being in front of and accessible to the future of the game,” Coyne Schofield said. “If I can continue to be accessible to kids, and create opportunities for them, it’s my mission to do so because I know how much this game has to offer beyond wins and losses. The experiences that I’ve had playing the game, traveling the world, meeting my best friends are so far beyond winning and losing. I want to continue to build those opportunities for these kids, so they can have better experiences and grow the game.”
Coyne Schofield said that she was one of more than 100 girls at Granato’s camp in 1998. But Granato still created such a memorable experience and a lasting impression that Coyne Schofield carries with her to this day.
Almost 20 years later, Coyne Schofield enjoyed another memorable moment with Granato after winning a gold medal during the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.
“I got back to my room at the Olympic Village in PyeongChang and I had a text message from [Granato] telling me congratulations, and it brought a tear to my eye,” Coyne Schofield said. “I hope I can be a similar role model for one of the young girls I come across. I’m itching for the moment that I see a young girl who came to the Kendall Coyne Hockey Camp at 7 years old, wearing a gold medal around her neck. I want to text her congratulations in that moment because that’s the moment I had with Cammi.”
Coyne Schofield sees a visibility in girls hockey that wasn’t really prevalent while she was growing up, playing on youth teams mostly with all boys. She didn’t see many female officials, coaches, locally, or women within National Hockey League organizations either.
That has most certainly changed, as the growth of the women’s game is more common now than it was 20 years ago. Over the past 10 years, girls and women’s hockey participation has grown by over 35 percent. Coyne Schofield has witnessed the continued rise in popularity of women’s hockey in the United States, but she feels there’s more room to grow.
“I see people getting excited about the women’s game, and asking how they can grow the game,” Coyne Schofield said. “That truly excites me, but there’s much more work to be done. Being in front of these young girls, it’s important to show them that this is where my journey started … this is exactly how it started, this is exactly where it has taken me and it can take you to the next level.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.