#GetUncomfortable is more than a hashtag

The IX: Hockey Friday with Erica L. Ayala, OCtober 8, 2021

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The last week has been super-exciting here in the Pacific Northwest. Although it’s “boys” hockey that got me out here, there is so much crossover for The IX. I hope to have a lot more on that later!

Although my focus has been all thing Seattle Kraken, the new NHL franchise is hardly the only thing worth watching on the ice. College hockey is in full swing. Additionally, the Premiere Hockey Federation (PHF) has begun training camp and USA Hockey’s residency program kicked off in Minnesota.

It’s an exciting time for the hockey community overall, though we are still navigating COVID and continue to be shown just how much needs to be done to make hockey for everyone.

Following an incident in the Ukraine, the IIHF whiffed on the opportunity to ensure racism has no place in hockey.

Olympian Sarah Nurse reacts to IIHF disciplinary case following racist gestures made by a player in the Ukrainian Hockey League.

Additionally, the UHF fired Eugene Kolychev for publicly speaking out against racism, according to the former UHF general manager.

Friend of the newsletter D.F Pendrys continues to hold the PHF, the Toronto Six, and Digit Murphy to account and recently published an interview with Murphy and Lisa Bonyton. Since, The Victory Press has revisited what we knew about the NWHL/PHF and how close we might have been to an ownership team with backless chair ties.

I will also add the discourse surrounding this reporting and the conversation about what is deemed an “appropriate” way to hold people accountable, has had the consequence (intended or not) to harm many people I love and respect. I’ve stepped away from women’s soccer because of the inability for the social media conversation to understand and respect nuance with regard to kneeling or not kneeling. My fear is the same is happening in hockey.

I am fatigued by all of this, particularly how the PHF until recently ignored requests from D.F, a media member from the beginning of the league. It’s increasingly hard to see them be pushed aside because … well we don’t know why and are left to assume.

I believe the PHF wants to be an inclusive league, but they too signed the #GetUncomfortable pledge and here is the chance to live by those words. Not just with Digit Murphy but also with the PHF, Metropolitan Riveters, and the backless chair entanglement.

When we make mistakes, when we harm with or without intent, when we fall short, it is hard to own up to that. Society has made a practice of sweeping even the most egregious acts of racism and sexism aside to the point we are unable and unwilling to do the important work of addressing conflict in a timely manner and resolute manner.

There are players in this league that opted to support a network that attacked team staff and an active player. Yes, the then-NWHL made a statement and commissioner, yes Ty Tumminia spoke to media. However, there has been no follow-up regarding what actions are being taking internally and how those actions will instruct the public-facing commitments of the PHF and its teams to eliminate exclusionary behavior moving forward.

We are asking for a conversation. Pride tape and End Racism patches without an ongoing commitment are not enough and are not systemic change. Unless we know a culture or system is built with antiracism at the core, we have to assume that it has residual limitations by nature of social and cultural biases. What does that mean?

Eliminating bias in medicine.

If you watched the latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy (or read The New York Times), you also know medical standards for things like who is eligible for a transplant list are based on equations, on industry standards. You’d also know that those standards haven’t changed much and are based on industry assumptions about Black people.

Now imagine this for every system in humanity across the globe. So yeah, everything is literally about race and colonizers made it so. That’s why reporters who know how racism, sexism, and transphobia, and lots of other things impact systems constantly point out biases. One can (and we all do) perpetuate racism without being intentionally racist.

However, when the wounded cries of the privileged overshadow the root problem, systems persevere and those of “diverse” backgrounds who dare to speak out are discredited, silenced, and more.

If that makes you uncomfortable, good. Now self-reflect.

If you truly reflect, I anticipate it will become increasingly hard to operate in silence and with inaction.

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Week in Women’s Hockey

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Must-Click Links

Here is the IIHF Olympic Schedule.

Here’s an update on Olympic Qualifying Tournaments.

Meet Olympic hopeful Camryn Heon.

I’m hosting a Kraken 101 session with the Everett Public Library.

Erin Ambrose joins Players Own Voice podcast.

Marisa Ingemi Notebook: Riveters have big changes, but a lot stays the same.

A look into the Maine Black Bears program.

Toronto Six hoping to return to “normal”.

Tera Black Part II for Locked on Kraken. Watch Part I here.

Wisconsin Badgers sit atop the SB Nation Women’s NCAA Poll.

Ohio State sweeps Minnesota in WCHA play.

It’s Girls & Women’s Hockey Weekend at Kraken Community Iceplex.

Tweet of the Week

Five at The IX: Nadine Muzerall

I have really enjoyed seeing Muzzerall shape a new OSU program. Watch her latest postgame chat and here’s a recall to our two-part conversation with coach Muzzerall from 2020.

How did you get involved in hockey? How central was hockey to your childhood?

Growing up outside of Toronto, hockey was our thing. Of course, girls hockey wasn’t that big at the time and it wasn’t as fast growing as it is now. I have an older brother Darren, and whatever Darren did I wanted to do … so, in order for me to play hockey, I had to play with the boys. I was the only girl in the league, in the entire league.

My parents separated when I was pretty young, at three years old. And so my mom, to this day, does not have her (driver’s) license. So every Saturday morning at five o’clock, my mom would wake us up, I would have to get dressed in my full equipment. My poor brother had to wake up to because he was, you know, eight when I was five. I would put my helmet and everything on … we would pull up my mom’s green bike and it had this like purple seat. I mean, it’s definitely illegal nowadays to have a kid on the back of this thing … I would sit on the back of my mom’s bike, my full equipment with the hockey stick across my lap, and my boots on. My brother would get on his BMX bike with a backpack with my skates in it. And we would bike every Saturday morning, it was still dark out … the rink that was like three to five miles away every Saturday morning so I could play.

And so when we talk about words like grateful at The Ohio State, I remind my kids that story. I was the first female hockey player inducted into Minnesota Hall of Fame and you know what my mom bought me? It was the bicycle! And on the card, it was a beach cruiser, and on the card, it said ‘This is how it all began.

I’m just curious, as you tell that story, do you see any parallels between how your hockey journey started and how you impart passion, wisdom, and knowledge of the sport to others?

I agree fully, I do think it’s parallel. I mean, I grew up with, like I said, a single mom. A mom that sometimes had to work two jobs. But it grew my brother and I have an appreciation and value hard work and in value being grateful the things that didn’t come so easy. And that’s how I played. I played relentless I played … like I always had to prove something and I think that’s because I was the only girl playing boys all the way up until about 12 years old.

You can tell, that’s that in my style of playing and as a coach. You know, our team plays that relentless, chip on the shoulder style, you know. And so, those are those are the qualities that we want to have in our our young woman that we have in our program. I mean, I actually played for Laura Halldorson, as you know, and Laura is so humble and modest. It’s like, I had a Digit Murphy mentality playing for Laura Halldorson. I think it was good for coach and good for me, you know, that we were vastly different in many ways. But at the end, common goal, the nucleus was the same. Be kind, treat each other with respect, and be grateful.

You played and coached at Minnesota with folks like Laura and Brad Frost. The Ohio State, if we can be blunt, was a program with a lot of challenges. What made you say yes to the head coaching opportunity?

I had emails and texts and voicemails from Diana Sabou. I’m telling my husband Ryan Ohio State keeps calling me. And he looks at me. He’s like, ‘What about?’ and I’m like, ‘Well, there’s a vacancy in the head coaching position for women’s hockey.’ He goes, ‘Are you out of your flippin mind? It doesn’t get any better than that!’

My husband played football at Minnesota. He’s, he’s a football guy. So I said, ‘Okay well, Ryan, Yes, they’re well known for football but not women’s ice hockey.’Then he says to me, ‘Well, change that.’

Honestly … when I was I was at the boarding school … I was there for seven years and probably five years too long. I just became complacent … and I started to feel like at Minnesota. I have all my best friends around from college. My husband had all his friends after college. We’re building a house … it was fun, but I know there was no movement up … I was kind of stuck in a position with not a lot of movement. And I had a bad feeling like I did at the boarding school. An opportunity comes knocking you’re crazy if you don’t take it, especially when it’s the Ohio State.

So I went, and you know what, the are facilities not good looking. That’s probably our biggest handicap. But you know what? I’m that girl that’s on the back of a bicycle at 5:30 in the morning when it’s still dark out. So, I looked at Ohio State as the house that I was building. It had a great foundation, it just needed to be remodeled.

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 Sarah Kellam @sarahkellamLPGA.com
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By Jessica Taylor Price, @jesstaylorprice, Freelance Gymnastics Writer

Written by Erica L. Ayala