NHL.com's Q&A feature called "Sitting Down With…" runs each Sunday. We talk to key figures in the game, gaining insight into their lives on and off the ice.
This edition features U.S. women's hockey forward Kendall Coyne Schofield, who won a gold medal at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, a silver at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and helped lead the United States to six first-place finishes at the IIHF Women's World Championship (2011, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019) and a second-place finish in 2012.
Kendall Coyne Schofield isn't slowing down.
The 29-year-old is training with the U.S. women's team for the 2022 Beijing Olympics and is player development coach and youth hockey growth specialist for the Chicago Blackhawks. She's also written a book, "As Fast as Her," which will be released in January.
NHL.com caught up with Coyne Schofield recently to ask her about the upcoming Olympics, juggling a busy schedule and what she does with what little down time she has, among other things.
How long has your book been in the works?
"It's been in the works for about a year now and it's exciting that it's finally here. I hope it's well-received; I hope it inspires someone along the way and I hope my journey can act as a source of inspiration to encourage someone to follow their dreams just as I did mine. People will read my story and see some of the obstacles I had to overcome to get to where I am today. If they can grab any sort of inspiration from my story and apply it to their journey and encourage them to get through what they're going through, or follow their dreams, their passions, whatever those may be, even if it's not what everyone else is doing but it's what they love. I hope they can pull some of that inspiration out of my story."
How is your work with the Blackhawks going?
"Everything's been going well. I'm so appreciative for the support that I've received thus far to continue obviously playing and training and pursuing my goal of being on the 2022 Olympic team. But I've been able to continue my work, especially with our prospects, virtually from afar. Popping into games here and there in Minnesota because that's where [Olympic training is] at full time. It's been great so far. Our prospects are doing well, it's been fun to watch them from afar, follow their games, cut their clips. A lot of it is the same as what I was doing last year, but even though we are able to travel this year, because of the pandemic, I'm essentially acting as if I can't travel again this year. So, my partner (player development coach) Erik Condra, he's been on the road quite a bit. I do feel bad that he's picking up some of my slack, but everyone has been super supportive. I get routine texts from our player development group, 'How's it going? Who are you playing tonight? Good luck! What was the score? How did you play? Should we cut clips of you?' So funny."
How's training progressing for the 2022 Olympics?
"It's good. We've been in Minnesota since Oct. 1, working every day to get us closer to our goal of winning a gold medal in Beijing. We're on the road a lot, it's tiring, but this is what we dream for and this is what we work for. It's been going well."
How much has 2018 stayed with you and how much has it been with everyone on that team as you get ready for 2022?
"For those of us who were on the 2018 team, the message we can share is how difficult it is to win and how much more difficult it is to do it again. So for those who haven't been there, this isn't going to be easy. It's explaining that this is a very, very hard process and that's why every day we wake up, we have to put in the work. We can't cut corners, the details in everything we do matter. That's why it's so important we are together every day these next four months leading into the games. For us that were on there, we know it's so difficult to repeat. For those who haven't been there, I think they're equally as hungry to grab that gold medal for the first time."
Your schedule is loaded. How do you do it all?
"I think this is just how I've been wired since I was young. The more I have on my plate, the better I do. I know that there's such a short window of playing time when it comes to the women's game, and to try to extend that, to try and grow that, and to try to be a part of that growth is so important to me. I love what I do and that's what makes it easy waking up every day with a loaded schedule and getting it done because I know what I'm doing I'm doing with a purpose. There's intention behind what I do. I hope it doesn't only impact me, it impacts others and that's a lot of what I do and it's important to me. I know it'll slow down at one point, but not right now. I want it to keep picking up. I have a lot more goals and dreams that I've set out for myself. Along the way, I've been able to see some of the changes that have been made in the sport, whether it's through our team, our platform, whatever it may be. It's so important for me to continue to leave game better than when I entered it, through the work I do on and off the ice."
Best Christmas gift you ever received?
"Oh, probably hockey skates when I was young. Any piece of hockey equipment, definitely."
Who in hockey were you nervous or excited to meet for the first time?
"Nervous? Natalie Darwitz. Excited? Cammi Granato. With Cammi, I was 7, so I didn't really know what nerves were. I was just so young and thought, 'Oh, my gosh, this is so cool! I've never seen a woman play hockey before. I got to meet Cammi!' And Natalie Darwitz, she was a veteran player, I was 15 when I came into the program and I just thought she was so incredible. I was just a little intimidated by her. She couldn't be nicer. I was nervous to meet her, for sure, and I didn't want to screw up. I'm like, 'Oh my God, if I have to go on a line with her, I don't want to miss a pass.'"
Best advice you've ever gotten?
"It's pretty simple, but it's to believe in yourself. In hard times or in trying times or times when someone's telling you that you can't or that you don't belong, you have to believe in yourself. Or if you're failing to believe in yourself, lean on those who do believe in you and then find the belief in yourself at the end of the day. There are two things you can always control, your work ethic and your attitude. Those are two things I wake up and try to control to the best of my ability every single day and those are two things that help get me through busy schedule."
So when you do get time off, how do you spend it?
"Sleeping (laughs). Or if I have down time, I'm definitely spending time with my family or my husband (Los Angeles Chargers guard Michael Schofield) or my dog."
Have you gotten to go to any Chargers games?
"They're in Denver (Nov. 28), we have Thanksgiving off, so I'm going to try to go to Denver for that game. And he used to play for Denver, so that'll be my goal."
What's the best book you ever read?
"I love the book 'Legacy' by James Kerr. It's about the All Blacks (the New Zealand national rugby union team). It's still sports, but there are so many takeaways with how to build a culture and how to be a champion."