NHL.com's Q&A feature called "Five Questions With …" runs every Tuesday. We talk to key figures in the game and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.
The latest edition features Kendall Coyne Schofield, who helped the United States win the gold medal in women's hockey at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.
Kendall Coyne Schofield has had quite a year.
The 27-year-old recorded a time of 14.346 seconds in the Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater competition in the 2019 SAP NHL All-Star Skills on Jan. 26 in San Jose. She and the Minnesota Whitecaps won the Isobel Cup, the National Women's Hockey League championship, on March 17. Two months later, Coyne and approximately 200 other women's hockey players helped form the Professional Women's Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) to promote, advance and support a single, viable pro women's hockey league in North America. In September, she was added to the San Jose Sharks TV broadcast team as a color commentator for select games this season.
Video: Coyne on fastest skater competition and inspiration
"It's been an exciting year," Coyne Schofield said. "It's been an exhausting year, but it's been a year of growth, especially in the women's game. I've been fortunate to be part of some of those stepping stones that we've seen in our game the past year, but I think collectively all players are really feeling the pressure to leave this game better than it was. And I think that's what's so special about our group right now of over 200 players."
Coyne Schofield spoke with NHL.com at the Magellan Corporation Women's Hockey Showcase, the final installment of the PWHPA's Dream Gap Tour, in Chicago on Oct. 18. The Tour, which had stops in Toronto in September and Hudson, New Hampshire, in early October, was a series of showcase events played with the mission of closing the gap between what boys and girls can aspire to achieve. It's a busy time, but Coyne Schofield said it's worth the effort to help get the women's game to a better place.
"You have to have a vision, and I think we all have such a strong vision in what we want to create and what we want to do. I wake up every day wanting to fulfill that," she said. "It's not been easy. I miss my husband [Michael Schofield] dearly. But we have to do it now or it'll never happen. It's a lot of travel, but what's been really cool for me is all the opportunities that will lead to the next one for the next young girl who may say, 'I want to do broadcasting,' or, 'I want to be a competitor in the [NHL] All-Star Skills Competition.' Each step of the way, it's really awesome. It's tiring but it's really exciting because I hope I'm creating a path for the next generation to fulfill it, but also be better and do more."
Here are Five Questions with … Kendall Coyne Schofield.
What kind of feedback have you gotten for the Dream Gap Tour?
"It's been great. I think what's really exciting is the feedback from the players, saying they feel like they're being treated the right way. At the end of the day, not one player is making a dollar off what we're doing this year. But we know what we're doing is so much more important than any dollar can give, so we're excited about that. But we're also excited about the amount of people who are asking us to stop in their city and NHL organizations wanting us to be a part of their weekends. And so I think just seeing how many people want us to be involved shows that there is a market, and if you build it they'll come."
Chicago was the last stop on this tour. Are there any more in the works?
"We're planning a few more stops on the tour; they're not public yet, they haven't been released. But we'll continue to play each other and we're organizing things as we speak. This was the last stop that's publicized, but there are definitely more to come. Whether we're in national team jerseys or not, I think this is more exciting because it shows what the future can look like for women's professional hockey. We have so much talent here. It makes me so excited because we've never been able to have the best talent on the ice because we've been siloed due to the lack of resources."
How much are you enjoying being part of the Sharks broadcast team?
"It's exhilarating. The preparation that goes into a broadcast is the same that goes into playing a game. I'm still trying to figure out my routine, trying to figure out my style, my niche. How do I like to prep? How do I like my notes to look? So each game I do, I'm piecing those things together. But I've also been surrounded by so many amazing people in the broadcast world who have taken me under their wing, whether it's [Eddie Olczyk], Kenny Albert, Randy Hahn, Jamie Baker, Brett Hedican, the list goes on and on. AJ [Mleczko] and Cassie [Campbell-Pascall] have been huge allies in giving me positive comments and feedback. It's learning from them, just as you would a player -- you look up to your veteran players and see how they became a professional and learn from them. There's a lot of similarities, but I'm excited to continue to grow and learn and get better each game."
You competed in the fastest-skater challenge during the All-Star Weekend in San Jose. You're doing broadcasts for the Sharks. Is San Jose becoming a second home to you?
"And my husband won Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara [with the Denver Broncos], so that's right there too. Every time I go to San Jose, I think of all the amazing moments that have happened in that city. The people, the fans; the community is just incredible. A lot of good things have come in San Jose for myself and also for my husband, so we're definitely big fans, that's for sure."
Video: Coyne-Schofield opens eyes in Fastest Skater event
Speaking of the fastest-skater competition, how pivotal was that for you and women's hockey?
"What I think was so pivotal about it was the fact that the NHL said yes to it. It wasn't planned, [Colorado Avalanche center] Nathan MacKinnon was injured and couldn't skate, and they could have gone on without him. The show would have gone on and no one would have known. But they decided to take that step, and I think the reason they took that step is because they believe in the women's game. They've seen the product we've put on the ice over the last 15 years and knew we could seize that opportunity. While I happened to be the one skating it, it was a combination of all the efforts of all the women's players over the years showcasing that, hey, this game is real. We can skate, we can shoot, we can pass. We're physical. And that was a combination of all of it in that 14.346 seconds."