William Douglas has been writing The Color of Hockey blog for the past eight years. Douglas joined NHL.com in March 2019 and writes about people of color in the game. Today, he profiles Kiana Scott, the first woman scout hired by an Ontario Hockey League team.
Kiana Scott revealed something that teenage daughters rarely tell their parents.
"Not a lot of people say, 'Oh, yeah, I want to become a hockey scout,'" said Scott, who is now 20. "When I told my parents, they were, like, 'OK.' They knew it was going to be a bit of a harder job to accomplish because I'm young, I'm a woman, I'm also a minority."
The Barrie, Ontario, native achieved her dream job recently when Erie of the Ontario Hockey League hired her to scout bantam players, making her the OHL's first female scout.
"This opportunity gives me the chance to be the scout I've always dreamed of being," she said. "I started my scouting career from the bottom and have worked very hard and overcome a lot to get where I am today."
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Scott is part of a growing list of women who landing scouting positions in hockey at all levels. Cammi Granato, a Hockey Hall of Fame inductee in 2010 and Olympic gold medalist in 1998, became the NHL's first female pro scout when NHL Seattle hired her in September.
The Los Angeles Kings tapped former NWHL defenseman Blake Bolden in January to be a pro scout for the Pacific region. She's believed to be the first black woman to scout for an NHL team.
The Toronto Maple Leafs hired Noelle Needham, co-founder of Legend Hockey, as an amateur scout in 2018. The Anaheim Ducks made Gabriella Switaj, a former Boston College goalie, an amateur scout and team services analyst for the Ducks this past August.
"Work" is the operative word when it comes to Scott. Erie general manager Dave Brown and Scott Grieve, the team's assistant director of hockey operations, offered her the job after seeing her almost everywhere they went.
"When we were going to rinks, scouting ourselves, we kept noticing Kiana at the rink," Brown said. "One day we had gone to multiple rinks and every rink we went to, she was there."
Brown has a message to those who may look at Scott's youth and scoff.
"Hard work doesn't tell by age," he said. "She was outworking a lot of guys currently in the industry."
Scott managed to get around to major bantam AAA, major midget AAA, and junior level games for two seasons while holding down two jobs.
"I really wanted this," she said. "I told myself that every time I had a day off or worked one shift that day I would head to Toronto and find a game to go to. I would go to three different games at three different rinks. I would travel all over."
Amateur scouting isn't glamorous. It can be a thankless, sometimes lonely job with lots of time in frigid rinks, long drives to small towns and lots of reports to write.
Scouting bantams, players younger than 15 years old, isn't always viewed as a prestigious job, Brown said.
"It's a position that, when we talked to some people about it, they turned their heads at it because they were more concerned about being around other scouts," he said. "Kiana jumped at it right away when it was offered to her."
That's because scouting was something Scott has wanted to do since her early teens, although she didn't fully realize it at the time. She played minor hockey for 11 seasons, including four seasons on boys teams, and wanted to have a career in the game beyond playing. But she didn't exactly know what she wanted to do.
"When I was 13, my parents just brought this up the other day, I started scouting my brother's games," Scott said. "I would tell him what he needed to correct, what his assets and weaknesses are. I would also tell him about the other team and what he could do to get advantages. I didn't even know I was scouting until later on, looking back."
Scott was unaware of hockey jobs available to her, so she enrolled at a makeup artistry college after graduating from high school. But hockey was still on her mind.
"Every day I would sit back and say, 'What am I doing?'" she said. "I knew I wanted to do something in hockey, but I just didn't know how to go about it and if it was possible."
She began asking questions, looking for hockey programs or internship opportunities with junior teams to try to get her foot in the door. Scott eventually enrolled in an online hockey general manager scouting course. She joined the International Scouting Service Hockey's mentorship program in 2018 and scouted for two years for the service.
"She has an unbelievable passion for scouting, and an attention to detail," said Dennis MacInnis, director of scouting for ISS. "She had a good eye."
Scott hopes that eye for talent eventually takes her to the NHL. She would love to be an amateur scout for the Vancouver Canucks, her favorite NHL team.
"It's amazing what I've accomplished so far," she said. "Hopefully, I'll be an NHL scout, but that's very far in the future."