Like many young girls hockey players, Kendall Coyne Schofield often played with and against boys growing up in the Chicago suburbs.
Skating with the guys toughened her up. It molded her into the hockey player she is today. She’s now solid and well-rounded on the ice — one of the best players in the world.
Coyne Schofield, who was a member of the gold medal-winning U.S. team at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, is getting a chance to skate again with the guys this summer. In the new Chicago Pro Hockey League (CPHL) that had its first night of competition this past Wednesday, Coyne Schofield is the only woman on the four teams.
“I think it’s an awesome opportunity just to stay in shape and get ready for the upcoming season,” said Coyne Schofield, who is from Palos Heights, Illinois. “Obviously, a lot of people are talking about it because I’m the only woman playing in an all-men’s league. It’s the guys I grew up playing with around Chicago and I’m excited to see all of them and just get some good skates in this summer.”
When Coyne Schofield was lacing up her skates on Wednesday for her team, it didn’t cross her mind she’d be the only woman on the ice. It was hockey as usual.
Coyne Schofield scored two goals to go with one assist last February in PyeongChang
“Throughout my whole hockey career, I’ve never viewed myself as different,” Coyne Schofield said. “I know others did because I had a ponytail coming out of my helmet, but to me I was just Kendall. I was just playing the sport I love and that’s what it’s going to be all summer. And I think the biggest part too is not only do I not view myself as different, I don’t think any of those guys do either.”
The highly competitive league, which has 20 NHL players on its rosters, gives the players a shot to keep their on-ice skills sharp during the offseason. The CPHL is in action every Wednesday until Aug. 15 at the MB Ice Arena, the practice facility of the Chicago Blackhawks. The playoffs will be Aug. 22 and 23. Fans are able to attend the games for $5.
“It will definitely prepare me for the upcoming season,” Coyne Schofield said. “I haven’t announced where I’m going to play [professionally next season]… Having the routine skates day after day in the summer, they can get kind of boring. So, to mix in a game against arguably the top competition in hockey is pretty cool.”
Coyne Schofield celebrates after Team USA wins gold in PyeongChang
Coyne Schofield heard about the formation of the CPHL in early June and contacted her agent Kevin Magnuson.
“She texted me after reading an article about the league and wondered if she could play,” Magnuson said. “And right away I said, ‘Of course. Let me just get the final approval from Anders.’”
Anders Sorensen, who runs the league, knows how talented Coyne Schofield is on the ice. He wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to have a hometown hero play in the league. When Coyne Schofield played with the Chicago Mission girls teams throughout her high school career, she would also skate with Mission boys teams coached by Sorensen.
Having the CPHL start up this summer is a blessing for Coyne Schofield. She hasn’t had a whole lot of time recently to concentrate on hockey. On July 7, the 26-year-old married Super Bowl champion Michael Schofield, who plays for the Los Angeles Chargers.
“It’s been really busy, but obviously super fun and exciting,” Coyne Schofield said. “Can’t complain.”
With Coyne Schofield playing in the CPHL, she’s opened the door for other women’s hockey players to possibly skate in future years if the league continues. Coyne Schofield loves being a trailblazer for her sport.
“By me playing in the league with all men just shows you can do anything you set your mind to regardless of gender,” Coyne Schofield said.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.