ARLINGTON, Va. -- Haley Skarupa was named hockey ambassador for the Washington Capitals on Monday.
In her new role, Skarupa, a Rockville, Maryland native who helped the United States women's national team win the gold medal at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics and titles at the IIHF Women's World Championship in 2015, 2016 and 2017, will assist the Capitals in developing and engaging with the youth hockey community across Washington, Maryland and Virginia.
"I grew up in the area, in the D.C./Maryland area, and I've always been a huge Caps fan," Skarupa said. "I interned in their community relations department when I was in college at [Boston College] and always kind of remained involved with the organization just because I was really passionate about it and I thought it would be a great idea to continue growing the game in the area, they've done such an amazing job of that."
Skarupa, a 25-year-old forward, was drafted by New York Riveters of the National Women's Hockey League with the No. 9 pick in the 2015 NWHL Draft and has played three seasons in the league after playing four seasons at Boston College and earning her degree in psychology.
She previously served as director of Boston Junior Whalers Hockey, coaching youth hockey players in various premiere and select tournaments in Massachusetts. She also worked as a skills development coach for Eagles Elite Sports, coaching youth hockey players in clinics, camps and private skills sessions throughout the New England region.
As hockey ambassador, Skarupa will team with the Capitals youth hockey department to drive growth across the sport. Skarupa will establish additional female programming that encompasses both street hockey and on-ice sessions.
In addition, she will work to enhance the Capitals' existing initiatives across youth and high school hockey, as well as serve as the team's core liaison with USA hockey.
"Kind of after the Olympics and these past couple of years we've been talking and thought it would be a great opportunity for both me and [the Capitals] to kind of team up together, have this mission to continue the growth of girls and boys hockey in the DMV area," Skarupa said.
As part of the IIHF World Girls Hockey Weekend, Skarupa will help host two free Washington Capitals Girls Hockey Clinics at MedStar Capitals Iceplex on Oct. 5.
"We are excited to welcome Haley as our new Hockey Ambassador to our organization," Monumental Sports & Entertainment Founder, Chairman, Principal Partner and CEO Ted Leonsis said. "Her talent on the ice and her dedication to engaging participants in the sport make her a terrific role model for aspiring athletes. Over the past several years, we have seen a tremendous increase in youth hockey participation across the area and we believe her addition will continue to spur growth among young participants."
According to USA Hockey, there's been significant growth in youth participation in the D.C. area. Participation in the region has increased over the past five seasons to 22,144 players, coaches and officials. Since Alex Ovechkin was drafted, participation by youth players has increased by 221 percent. There are approximately 40 ice facilities in the area, with a total of 53 sheets of ice.