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Gender Equality Month

Tappen, NBC set to make history with all-women NHL broadcast in U.S.

Anchor 'overwhelmed with emotion' ahead of Blues-Blackhawks game

by Tracey Myers @Tramyers_NHL / Staff Writer

Kathryn Tappen was reading a story Friday when it dawned on her what she would be accomplishing on television this weekend.

"I was reading the piece and the words: making history," said Tappen, who will anchor the first NHL game broadcast and produced solely by women in the United States when the St. Louis Blues play at the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN). "I actually got choked up. Seeing it in print, for whatever reason -- people have asked me about it this week and they've mentioned it on different phone interviews and radio interviews -- I was overwhelmed with emotion. It's amazing."

NBC producer Kaitlin Urka initially pitched the idea of the broadcast, which will take place on International Women's Day. Kate Scott will call the game with U.S. hockey Olympic gold medalists Kendall Coyne-Schofield and AJ Mleczko. Studio coverage will begin at 7 p.m. ET on "NHL Live," where Tappen will anchor with three-time Canadian hockey Olympic gold medalist Jen Botterill.

Mleczko said this should be inspiring for young girls wanting to get into the business.

"Two of my [four] kids are girls, and so whether it's in broadcasting school, whatever it may be, it's women coming up that see other women doing it," Mleczko said. "Whether it's someone like me, Kate, Kendall, Kathryn or Jen on camera, or whether they understand that producers and the directors, all those people are women. There's a great future for young girls if they want to get into the sports world, whether it's hockey or baseball or football or whatever, on the production side and on the talent side. That's one of the opportunities presented to us here is to open the eyes of young girls and young boys out there that there are opportunities equal for everyone." 

For Botterill, it's a reminder that there are there are more opportunities out there, no matter the field.

"The way I'd probably describe it is, I don't think that every girl has to be involved, every female has to be involved in broadcasting or production or direction. It's just nice now that it can be a showcase to show there is a choice," Botterill said. "I've often said the same thing about the growth of women's hockey: Not every girl has to play hockey, but it's nice that now in North America it's a choice for young girls. And I think that's one of the aspects of the game on Sunday that I'm most honored about and looking forward to is to really showcase that, that there are females in prominent roles and doing a great job and to be a showcase for young females aspiring for different positions in their future. Anything can be possible."

Tappen said she received a good-luck email on Friday from a trailblazing woman in the sports industry: Lesley Visser, the first female NFL analyst on radio and television.

"Leslie is certainly the reason why all of us on camera have an opportunity to broadcast sports because she really paved that path and continues to be a trailblazer in the industry," Tappen said. "To hear from her on a day like today, going into this weekend, means the world to me."

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