The IX: Hockey Friday with Erica L. Ayala, February 8, 2019

Finding light in the darkness—Winny Brodt-Brown interview—Must-click women's hockey links

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For Metropolitan Riveters forward Madison Packer, there is a lot to be excited about as she prepares for her third NWHL All-Star Weekend in Nashville. Spending time with past and present teammates, seeing what the crowd will be like in a new city (the Skills Competition is already sold out), the chance to reset from a trying year with the Riveters.

However, there is one thing that might beat out all the others. Well, one person: Kyle Pavone. On August 25, 2018, Kyle died of an accidental overdose. 

Kyle was Packer’s childhood friend from Michigan. While she went on to travel the world playing hockey, Kyle traveled the world as a musician. He was the front man for the band We Came as Romans. 

Just shy of six months since Kyle’s passing, Packer’s career will take her to Music City. Instead of focusing solely on hockey, she and fiancee Anya Battaglino are teaming up with Kyle’s family to raise awareness for the often silent but very destructive epidemics of drug addiction and mental health. 

The two don’t always go hand-in-hand, but the line of differentiation is often very thin. The loss of Kyle and other family members at the hands of either drugs or suicide has been devastating for Packer. Now, as she steps into the light with the story of her friend and his family, she hopes others will find the resources they need. 

This weekend, Madison and Anya will be seen wearing hats with the letters “KPF” to remember Kyle, and others. If you see her in Nashville, or come across her social media feed, go ahead and ask her about Kyle, or about being a Project Semicolon Ambassador.

Starting a conversation is exactly what she wants to do!

For more information about Kyle Pavone, visit: https://kylepavonefoundation.org/


This Week in Women’s Hockey

Liked this from Annie’s Soccer Mondays, so thought I’d add it too:

Remember: first, the underlined words are the links. Second. CLICK these, even if you’ve already read them. Clicks = Attention from editors, producers and webmasters. Third, if you want to push out stuff you’ve written or read, email me! erica@ericalayala.com.

It’s Black History Month and every hockey fan should know the name Angela James! Here is a great short film on the first Canadian female to enter the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Liz Knox discusses the backlash from the CWHL All-Star Game, new commissioner Jayna Hefford, and why fans shouldn’t fear #OneLeague in my latest for The Victory Press.

Sportsnet spoke to Sarah Nurse about Angela James. Katherine Rutherford and John Kreiser also wrote about Angela James to commemorate Black History Month.

Hockey in Society blog presents Renaissance Women Part 2: NWHL edition! Amazing read on players like Miye D’Oench, Kelly Babstock, Tanja Eisenschmid, and more. Here is the link for the CWHL Edition from last month.

“Not only were they now Olympians but diplomats, too.” A look back at the 2018 Unified Korean women’s ice hockey team and the players role in politics.

Sounds like the New York Rangers hosted a great panel for National Girls & Women in Sports Day. I only wish they’d publicized it beforehand (said the grumpy New Yorker who totally would have loved to hear from these AMAZING panelists).

Maddie Elia joins the NWHL All-Star Game Snub Club, my thoughts.

The Calgary Inferno split their most recent series with Montreal, clinch a playoff spot and home ice advantage in the semifinals.

Hockey officials Cianna Lieffers and Katie Guay make history, pave the way for other women.

The Hockey News has several NWHL All-Star features out leading up to Nashville this weekend. Learn more about Katerina Mrazova, Madison Packer, Gigi Marvin, and Lee Stecklein.

Stecklein has nothing but admiration for her role model and now teammate Winny Brodt-Brown, as evident in the aforementioned features by Jared Clinton. Learn more about pioneer, mother, and member of the first player Minnesota Whitecaps Winny Brodt-Brown, our Five at The IX feature athlete this week.

From a Q & A with CWHL commissioner Jayna Hefford: “I believe that any sport, regardless of gender, is built around its superstars. If we could fault women's hockey in the past, I think it's that we haven't developed enough of those. It was always about one or two players, that's the only people that the fans knew.”


Tweet of the Week

How is she not an NWHL All-Star?!


Five at The IX: Winny Brodt-Brown

Around this time last year, Winny Brodt-Brown served as one of the coaches for the 2018 NWHL All-Star Game in St. Paul, Minnesota. The skills competition and the game were the first of many sellout crowds packed in to watch NWHL hockey at TRIA Rink. Today, Brodt-Brown is still playing elite hockey 10 days away from her 41st birthday. She and the team her family founded are 10-4-0 in their first NWHL season. I caught up with Whitecaps captain last month in Boston.

Erica L. Ayala: You and your family have been with the Whitecaps organization since its inception. And how did the Whitecaps get started? Let's get a little bit of the history.

Winny Brodt-Brown: Yeah, a little background to why it started about 14 years ago was I was graduating from college and still playing with the U.S. National Team and training and trying to make a U.S. team and there was really no outlet to play. So, my dad and Dwayne Schmidgal all who also had a daughter Jenny Schmidgal at the time who is now Jenny Potter. We had graduated and they were like OK let's start a team because you guys need competitive hockey to continue your training and being able to play at the top level. So that's how the Minnesota Whitecaps were formed.

ELA: The Minnesota Whitecaps have of course been a part of multiple different women's leagues but spent a bulk of time kind of being a barnstorming team. So what were those years like, trying to find games to play to, as you said, keep options open for Olympians?

WBB: Yeah the Whitecaps have gone through a lot different phases and we're still here which is awesome because of my dad and everything that he's done and trailblazed to get it here in. Back in the day, we were in the Western Women's Hockey League which was really exciting really fun. We played [for] the Clarkson Cup, won that. And then after that the Western Women's Hockey League disbanded, we didn't have a league to play in for numerous years. We just got a lot of the college teams to support us which was huge because that's how we were able to keep going. I think all those college coaches understand, they had all those female athletes and they think that we have an opportunity and we should have an opportunity to keep playing. So they were probably also a big reason for why our team was able to stay alive.

ELA: Which is amazing in and of itself. As you see women's leagues in all sports really struggle and go through multiple different iterations, here where the Whitecaps, surviving it all to still being an option for women to play after college and maybe even to fine tune as they're looking to make a national team. And now you've found a home with the National Women's Hockey League. Talk a little bit about what it took to really keep the Whitecaps franchise alive throughout those times?

WBB: I think what really kept it alive is just the passion in Minnesota from all the players that had grown up playing in Minnesota. Watching the players go through the college ranks all over the U.S. and the opportunity that those girls had gotten and when the girls finished, they still want to play. So with the Whitecaps being there, we always had enough players to form teams — which is you need players to play hockey (laughs). So we definitely had enough and we were able to just keep those players passion going and giving them a place to play.

ELA: Here we are now. Not only are the Whitecaps settled in the NWHL, but also doing a pretty good job. You went undefeated for a six-game stretch and go up against the Boston Pride in what was an amazing battle today, a five-to-four result in favor of Boston. These are teams, throw the Buffalo Beauts in the mix, that are really looking for that number one spot heading into the playoffs. Your thoughts about remembering what it took being there from the beginning and now seeing how this team is thriving in a new league?

WBB: Yeah. And this league has been just great for women's hockey in general because you have the you know top teams Boston and Buffalo and in any game that you dropped the puck anyone could win. And that's what you want, and that's what the fans want and that's what the sport is. It's very competitive and it's just going to get better and better as the years come.

ELA: You're back on the ice tomorrow afternoon. What would you like to see from your team with that quick turnaround?

WBB: I think we just have to you know start out strong and like our coaches were saying we got to play three periods. Our team has kind of struggled the last month with putting out three periods. But when we put three periods out, we do really well. It just looks like in today's game we didn't come out to play in that first period and put us down. We battled back which is a huge huge thing for our team, and scored [late] goals. That's what we need to do and now we just gotta pull it together and play three good periods against Connecticut tomorrow.

Note: The Whitecaps went on to defeat Connecticut 4-1 to begin a three-game winning streak at the All-Star break.


Mondays: Soccer

By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women's Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By Lindsay Gibbs, @Linzsports ThinkProgress
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal High Post Hoops
Thursdays: Golf
By Carly Grenfell, @Carlygren PGA.com
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster