CHICAGO -- Kendall Coyne Schofield wants girls to have more opportunities to play hockey. And Coyne Schofield, who won a gold medal playing for the United States at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, was one of several Olympians who instructed at the "Meet Your Sheros" girls clinic at United Center on Friday.
Sixty-five girls ages 6-16 attended the 80-minute clinic, which is part of the Professional Women's Hockey Players Association's Dream Gap Tour, a series of showcase events played with the mission of closing the gap between what boys and girls can aspire to achieve.
"It just shows we need to continue to be more accessible and these opportunities are so limited," Coyne Schofield said. "So when we have the opportunity to team up with the [Chicago] Blackhawks and put a clinic on and be involved with the girls, it means so much to us because we know they're the future and they need accessible role models to understand and know what they can accomplish."
For a $210 admission, girls participated in the clinic and a private meet-and-greet and autograph session with the players afterward. They also received three tickets to watch the Blackhawks' 3-2 overtime win against the Columbus Blue Jackets, as well as three weekend passes for the Magellan Corporation Women's Hockey Showcase, where more than 35 Olympians will play Saturday and Sunday at Fifth Third Arena. Blackhawks senior director of fan development Annie Camins said the clinic sold out in two days.
Joining Coyne Schofield were three fellow 2018 U.S. gold medalists: defenseman Monique Lamoureux-Morando and forwards Jocelyne-Lamoureux-Davidson and Hilary Knight. Hockey Hall of Fame forwards Cammi Granato, who won gold with the U.S. at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, and Jayna Hefford, who won gold with Canada four times (2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014) also instructed.
"I was just talking to Cammi," Camins said. "She came in and we did something very similar with some of the 1998 Olympians in 2008 or 2009. But it was really the last time we've done anything like this. So 10 years later, to see the response of how much women's hockey and female hockey has grown, and how supportive these female athletes are to the sport, to growing the game, is just amazing."
Girls began the clinic with skating drills before breaking into groups and working with the Olympians on shooting, stick-handling and other drills.
Rigley Zaworski, 9, of Houston, was in the group of 8- and 9-year-old girls instructed by Knight. She attended the clinic after her mother, Frances, heard about it from fellow hockey moms.
"It felt really exciting to play with the U.S. women Olympians," said Rigley, who arrived in Chicago with her family at 2 a.m. Friday. "I just started skating with my parents about three years ago and I've loved it ever since."
Paige Franzen, 9, of Chicago, also received instruction from Knight.
"It was really cool because my number is going to be 21, too," Paige said of wearing Knight's number.
Carriann Engelhardt of Chicago watched as her 9-year-old daughter, Lillian, participated in the clinic.
"It's just amazing for her to be there," Engelhardt said. "She's with Olympians. This is the cream of the crop in sports and she's on the ice with them. She was so excited, she couldn't go to sleep last night. To have female role models to look up to -- I mean we watch Blackhawks games all the time, but it's not quite the same thing as being on the ice with these women."
Rick Wilde of Madison, Wisconsin, had daughters Sophie, 13, and Celia, 8, participating in the clinic.
"I grew up in Chicago, and it really pulled things together for me to bring them back here and have them participate with the female Olympians and see that higher echelon of skater," Wilde said. "Seeing the mentors out here working with them … I think this is really a good event."