Katie Million is proud to see the growth in girls and women's hockey. Now she'll help that continue with USA Hockey.
Million, who was introduced as director of women's national team programs for USA Hockey on Wednesday, has more than 20 years of experience in sports management. She has been the women's commissioner and vice president of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association since 2016 and also spent 17 years with the Olympic Regional Development Authority in Lake Placid, New York.
Million will complete her duties with the WCHA and join USA Hockey on May 1.
"Women's hockey is one of the fastest growing sports, and recent publicity surrounding the obvious talents these women possess will only continue to grow the game we all love," Million said on the Hockey Week Across America conference call Wednesday. "The future is strong for women's athletics, I am so thankful to be chosen to help the U.S. women's national team's effort, and proud to represent the women who truly are the leaders and champions of today and will be future inspiration for girls across the country for tomorrow."
Hockey Week Across America, in its 12th year, is an initiative led by USA Hockey to engage the hockey community in celebrating the game and those involved at all levels and also to expose the sport to new audiences. It began on Feb. 17 and runs through this Sunday.
USA Hockey assistant executive director of hockey operations John Vanbiesbrouck said Millions' passion for the sport came through in the interview process.
"Her background speaks for itself, a sports manager professional who brings varied experience to the table," Vanbiesbrouck said. "That will be a great benefit to USA Hockey moving forward. She's done an exceptional job as commissioner of the WCHA women's league, in all facets, and ultimately that was certainly very attractive to us."
Million is encouraged by how much girls and women's hockey has grown in the past 30 years. She said there were approximately 3,500 female hockey players in the United States in 1987-88. Now there are nearly 80,000.
"That's a huge leap in numbers, and I think as we continue to grow the game of women's hockey and youth and girls hockey, those numbers will only keep getting larger and larger," Million said. "My hope is there is opportunity for girls and women to play all over the country. And not only all over this country but all over the world, because the next piece of it is growing it globally."
Million's interest in hockey began with watching the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics when she was 11 years old in central New York. Now she said she's come full circle with her role with USA Hockey.
"As I went through my career, there wasn't necessary a sports management degree, but every step I took along my career path, it was definitely sport related," Million said. "I couldn't be happier about that, and also to try to spread that message among some of our student athletes and girls who are looking for advice. Just follow your passion, whatever that is. Your dreams will come true. For me, this is truly a dream come true."