A new league on the horizon for the PWHPA? — Saroya Tinker talks signature Nikes — Must-click women’s hockey links

The IX: Hockey Friday with Anne Tokarski, April 22, 2022

Welcome back to Hockey Friday. It’s been a quiet week…for the most part. On Hockey Night in Canada last Sunday, men’s hockey journalist Jeff Marek dropped a big one: news that the PWHPA would be starting their new league in 2023.

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The news has yet to be confirmed or announced by the PWHPA themselves, but it’s not the first time Marek has been on the nose with regard to news coming out of the women’s hockey world. I wouldn’t be surprised if this reported league really does come to fruition by the time the 2022-23 hockey season is set to begin.

The details Marek reported seem promising, especially for the players who have advocated for a sustainable league since the abrupt shuttering of the CWHL three years ago. While a $35,000 minimum salary might not be a livable wage in many metropolitan areas, a $55,000 average is certainly more than most women’s hockey players could have even dreamed of making just a couple years ago.

Fans, friends, and followers of the PHF might be a little wary of this news, but like I have mentioned in previous newsletters, two leagues isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Two leagues that push each other to be better and to offer new benefits and adequate compensation for their players isn’t a bad thing. It means that there are more opportunities for more players to lace up their skates after the conclusion of their collegiate careers, and no matter where you stand, I think we can all agree that more women’s hockey is a good thing.

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This Week in Women’s Hockey

Fifteen stats that tell the story of the PHF season (The Ice Garden)

Carla MacLeod named head coach of Czech women’s national team (narodnitymzen/Twitter)

PHF Chairman John Boynton on commissioner search, Digit Murphy, and more (On Her Turf)

PHF Free Agency starts May 1 (The Ice Garden)

Five at the IX: Saroya Tinker

In April 2021, Toronto Six defender Saroya Tinker shared on Twitter that she wanted to be the first PHF athlete sponsored by sportswear giant Nike. Fast forward to March 2022, and Tinker announced that she was releasing her very own Air Force 1 design in collaboration with Nike. The IX chatted with Tinker in early March about the design, its conceptualization, and how the partnership came to be.

Question: You tweeted in April 2021 that you wanted to be the first [PHF] player to be sponsored by Nike? What inspired that tweet for you?

Saroya Tinker: I think for myself, for one, it was wanting to be a part of Nike. I think as a kid, you grew up in Nikes. I see, like, a lot of the biggest athletes with Nike: Serena Williams, people like that, Naomi Osaka. So in that sense, I think there’s a lot of strong Black women that have followed and work with Nike. So I really wanted to do that. But also, on a second point, I wanted to be a professional athlete and treated like one. And that comes with endorsement deals and working with big companies like that, and getting recognized as a professional athlete. So I wanted to show women in my league that we can do that and we deserve those endorsement deals in that recognition as well. So I think that’s really what inspired that tweet.

Q: So tell me a little bit about what went into that partnership. How long has it been in the works?

Tinker: So I had a connection with [Nike] somebody on my dad’s side of the family. Nike Toronto ended up sending us ended up sending us six or seven Team Canada jerseys to help cheer on the Olympic team, so that was really the first initial connection. So I was able to provide six of my girls [in my mentorship program] with those jerseys. And then a girl that works at Nike Toronto, she brought up my name for the Future Movement project to Nike in the States. They described it to me, asked if it was something I was interested in doing. And we moved forward with the with the project.

Q: When you first thought about a deal with Nike, did you ever envision having your own signature shoe? Did you ever think that a signature shoe could be possible?

Tinker: Definite not. I was really thrilled by it when I heard about the project. So at the same time, I realized that people were going to be able to go on on the Nike website and customize their own shoe, but also be able to see my template and see how I designed it and see how I wanted to implement Black history into an Air Force 1. So I definitely didn’t see it as a possibility…that was, I think that was…the last thing on my list. But at the same time, I really appreciate being a part of the project and being recognized as one of those athletes and a shareholder of progress.

Q: What does it mean to you to be one of only a handful of hockey players, alongside greats like Marie-Philip Poulin, Brianne Jenner, and NHL player Auston Matthews, aligned with such a huge brand?

Tinker: I think it’s huge for hockey, but it’s also huge for women’s hockey. I think with [Nike] recognizing me as a shareholder of progress with this project, I think that it shows that they’re recognizing us and they’re moving forward and want to move into a whole other sphere, which is hockey. Obviously, we saw Bauer, previously in earlier years, but we haven’t really seen many hockey players, so I’m happy to be recognized by such an amazing brand.

Q: You’re the first PHF player to have your own purchasable signature shoe. What do you think that means for the future of partnerships between players in the league and other major brands?

Tinker: I think it’s going to elevate all of us as a whole. I think it shows that the athletes in the Premier Hockey Federation deserve that level of recognition and deserve sponsorships and deals and collaborations that are equivalent to the men. I think that what we put in to our sport day in, day out physically, mentally, whatever it may be, along with our jobs…I think that we should be recognized. And I think it’s going to show other PHF athletes that they can aim for those level of sponsorships and get that level of respect and those deals from from bigger brands that are going to recognize them and appreciate them in the way that they should.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Anne Tokarski