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U.S. Women’s National Team Welcomes Two Familiar Faces in Scout, Player Development Roles

By Heather Rule, 12/15/23, 1:45PM EST


Former players Haley Skarupa and Ellen Weinberg-Hughes bring experience to staff

New scout Haley Skarupa brings something to the U.S. Women’s National Team that not many others do: She was once a member of the team as a player. 

“That is a very unique perspective of overall experience of what these players, their mindsets, what they’re thinking about and how to facilitate them on and off the ice,” Skarupa said.

With the 2023-24 Rivalry Series now underway, Skarupa is one of two familiar faces stepping into a new role with the U.S. Women’s National Team. Skarupa is a full-time scout, and Ellen Weinberg-Hughes also joins as a player development consultant.

Skarupa spent a decade on the U.S. Women’s National Team from 2009-18, winning three IIHF Women’s World Championship gold medals and an Olympic gold medal in 2018. She played four years at Boston College before competing professionally in the National Women’s Hockey League. Most recently, she played with the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association from 2020-23.

With her playing days behind her, Skarupa wanted to get back into hockey in some capacity when the scout position came along.

“And what better team and organization than the one that I grew up playing with?” Skarupa said. “I was super excited about that.”

Skarupa will look to find a balance for the U18, national senior women’s team and Olympic teams to build a pipeline for them. She’ll also attend events, as she was in Tempe, Arizona, on Nov. 8 to watch the U.S. defeatCanada 3-1 in the first Rivalry Series game of the year. 

In the long term, Skarupa will watch U18 players on their various teams to help funnel those players up to the U.S. Women’s National Team.

Skarupa is familiar with a lot of the current players seeing as she played with and against many of them. She’s excited about helping the next generation, specifically at the U18 level because she remembers being in their shoes. 

Skarupa is most enthusiastic to help the players. As someone who understands the level of stress and what it takes to play at the international level, she hopes to be a great resource for the players.

“I’ve been in every situation on the team,” she said. “Being cut, being an extra forward, being a top forward. I do have a good sense of all those situations.”

Even though this is Skarupa’s first venture as a scout, she said the most valuable role in preparing her for the position is being a player. She’s also worked for the Washington Capitals for a year on the marketing side.

Outside of hockey, she worked in a sales role for a software company in a “complete, drastic pivot” that taught her a lot of skills outside of sports and hockey.

“But then after doing that for a bit, you kind of get the itch to get back into hockey,” Skarupa said. “It’s everything that I’ve done my whole life.

“It’s just always a part of you. You never can really get rid of that.”

Like Skarupa, Weinberg-Hughes has been around hockey her whole life, and she said this new player development consultant position was perfect timingfor her. 

As a player, Weinberg-Hughes played for the University of New Hampshire and was the alternate captain on the U.S. Women’s National Team which won a silver medal at the 1992 IIHF Women’s World Championship.

Weinberg-Hughes described her position as being a sounding board who can provide additional information for athletes. She’ll provide resources to help them become better in areas they want to improve and that the coaching staff asks them to focus on.

“I’m really trying to help each player become the best versions of themselves,” Weinberg-Hughes said. “At the end of the day, the best players are always trying to become better. That’s what makes them so special, and that’s why they’re the best.”

Weinberg-Hughes is excited to come on board and help the entire group. She’s already raised three successful hockey players in her sons Quinn, Jack and Luke Hughes, who are all thriving in the NHL. However, she was also there to see the roadblocks and obstacles they occurred during their developments into NHL stars. She helped each of them overcome those challenges and that kind of experience can be an asset for her in helping theU.S. Women’s National Team.

Player development runs in the family as Weinberg-Hughes’ husband Jim, has spent the last 15 years in various capacities in helping players navigate their careers.

“It’s always been a passion of mine,” Weinberg-Hughes said. “It’s always been something that I’ve been heavily involved in.”

And whether it’s helping lend her expertise either on or off the ice, Weinberg-Hughes is fully embracing her role as someone national team players can turn to “for whatever it is that they need to get help with” to become the best they can be.

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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