Kendall Coyne Schofield has added another first to her hockey resume.
The Olympic women’s hockey gold medalist will join the Rockford IceHogs staff as player development coach and youth hockey growth specialist, the Chicago Blackhawks announced Monday. She’s believed to be the first female full-time coaching hire in the Hawks organization.
On Jan. 25, 2019, the Palos Heights native made headlines as the first woman to compete in the NHL All-Stars skills competition, timing at 14.326 seconds in the fastest-skater challenge.
Coyne Schofield has been part of the Hawks organization in various roles for seven years, and she said male players and staff have been very supportive.
“No matter who walks through the door, whether it’s a new coach, a new nutritionist, a new strength coach, as a new coach you need to earn the trust and the respect of the players, and I plan on doing that regularly through the work ethic that I will show,” she told reporters in a Zoom call Monday. “That’s how I made it as a player and that’s how I plan on making it as a coach.
“While I might be the first female coach a lot of these players have worked with, I don’t see it being an issue. I see them as seeing me as someone that’s going to help them aspire to get to the next level to fulfill their NHL dream. I’m going to do everything I can to get them ready to do that.”
The Hawks also announced the hiring of Erik Condra as an IceHogs player development coach and Juan Gonzalez as strength and conditioning coach.
“Adding talented people with diverse and multifaceted backgrounds like Kendall, Erik and Juan enhances our operations as we assess the changing landscape of hockey at all levels and continue to build and maintain a system of elite hockey,” Hawks general manager Stan Bowman said in a statement. “Each of these individuals brings unique experience to their position, and we are excited to welcome them to the Blackhawks family.”
Coyne Schofield becomes part of a wave of female pioneers in professional hockey.
Dawn Braid made history in 2016 when the Arizona Coyotes hired her as skating coach — the first woman to hold a full-time coaching position in the NHL.
Last year, the Seattle Kraken expansion franchise hired former U.S. Olympic team captain and Downers Grove native Cammi Granato as the league’s first female pro scout.
Earlier this month, Emily Engel-Natzke was named the AHL Hershey Bears’ video coach, making her the first female coach in the Washington Capitals organization.
Coyne Schofield has served as a community liaison for the Hawks for several years. As a player development coach, she will help IceHogs coach Derek King and his staff with “evaluating, assessing and scouting potential prospects,” according to the Hawks statement.
The Sandburg High School alumna also will be involved with community work, building on her “Golden Coynes” all-girls program as well as overall youth outreach through grassroots programs and clinics.
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