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Kendall Coyne Schofield Focused On Returning to Team USA Stronger Physically and Mentally

By Heather Rule, 02/14/24, 11:15AM EST


The 31-year-old played in three Rivalry Series games after more than a year away from the U.S. Women’s National Team

Kendall Coyne Schofield battles for the puck on ice during a Rivalry Series game

After giving birth to her son, Drew, in July, Kendall Coyne Schofield put on a Team USA sweater for the first time in more than a year on Feb. 7 to play in the Rivalry Series. 

Coyne Schofield, 31, said she came back mentally tougher than she’s ever been before, which helped after Sunday’s 6-1 defeat vs. Canada at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.

“I’m going to leave here, and the greatest gift in the world is going to be excited to see me and not know mom lost a hockey game,” Coyne Schofield said. “He’s going to smile. He’s going to light up my world.”

“The balance that becoming a mom has provided me has actually made me more mentally strong as an athlete.”

She’s physically stronger, too, because she’s “constantly carrying around 20 pounds all day, every day,” she said, lightheartedly, referring to her 7-month-old son.

Coyne Schofield’s teammates were thrilled to have her back on the ice.

“It’s incredible to have her back,” said Hayley Scamurra, adding that she “hasn’t missed a beat.”

“You really feel her energy on the ice out there, and it’s contagious,” Scamurra said. “And it kind of helps propel me. When I go out on the next shift, I see her buzzing out there. It makes me want to keep going.”

The Rivalry Series wasn’t the first time Coyne Schofield returned to competitive hockey since her son was born. She’s also the captain of the PWHL Minnesota team after she was instrumental in helping to get the league started. Coyne Schofield has three goals and one assist in her first nine games with PWHL Minnesota, which dropped the puck on its inaugural season in early January.

“Each game I’ve played in the league, I feel like I’ve gotten better and better each game,” Coyne Schofield said. “I knew it wasn’t going to be perfect. If I had that expectation of myself, I was crazy.”

She spent a lot of time skating by herself, and sometimes other people, before and after her son was born. But getting reps with the unpredictability, pace and contact of the game were important for her to get back into form.

Coyne Schofield is also known for her speed, an element she said is back within her game. While she doesn’t have any specific benchmarks for her return to play, she wears a tracking device on her shoulder pads that’s shown her speed is where it was in the past, which she said is reassuring.

“For me, there’s no reason I can’t keep getting better and stronger and faster,” Coyne Schofield said. “It’s continuing to get better each game.”

Although the Rivalry Series didn’t go the way Team USA wanted at the end, these seven games aren’t the only competitive games these players will playuntil the 2024 IIHF Women’s World Championship this April in Utica, New York. The United States and Canada rosters are stacked with plenty of PWHL players, and they get right back into their seasons this week, avoiding a long layoff like in the past.

“This Rivalry Series would end, and we’d be like, ‘Alright, when’s our next game?’” Coyne Schofield said. “We’d be waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting. But now, it’s you turn around and we’re playing on Wednesday [with PWHL Minnesota]. With different teams, different jersey, different colors, different meaning.”

With so much overlap with the national teams and PWHL, Coyne Schofield finds herself playing with PWHL Minnesota teammates but also PWHL opponents. They’re also playing against PWHL teammates and opponents on the Team Canada roster.

That doesn’t change the intensity of the rivalry between the two countries, though. There are just more games to go around with the professional league. Post-graduate players went from a ton of college hockey games to only a few games here and there, Coyne Schofield said, but now they’re all getting a ton of games.

“I think you’re just seeing players in better game shape,” she said. 

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc

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