The IX Hockey Friday with Erica L. Ayala, April 3, 2020
How are you? - Interview with Cara Morey - must-click WoHo links
Hi! Howard Megdal here. The IX helps build the necessary infrastructure for women’s sports media. In this moment, you can expect freelance budgets to be cut, reporters to lose their jobs. History tells us that women’s sports always bears the brunt of that first. We’re here for you. If you believe in what we’re building, be here for us. SPREAD THE WORD. Forward this offer along. Give a gift subscription. Let’s keep growing together, and make sure that whatever happens next, women’s sports coverage always has a home.
How are you? Really, how are you?
These are tough times, folks. No number of Tik Tok videos is (or should be) enough for us to completely ignore that our world is hurting. Things are going to be tough for the foreseeable future.
However, the same thing I love about women’s sports is the very thing that will get us through all of this. Hockey is a loving community, well it can be. We have seen folks come together for analytics virtual conferences, the Penguins & the Black Girl Hockey Club are gathering the community for a special zoom conference Saturday, and several rallied around reporter Marisa Ingemi who recently learned she was laid off from the Boston Herald.
It’s been good for my soul to see people reach out to me during these trying times. This is the perfect time to check in with your family and friends. Ask how they are doing. Then ask, how are they really doing. If you can help or comfort someone, do it. If you need help or comforting, ask for it. Thank someone today. I’ll start, thank you:
Some on this list helped me by simply agreeing to an interview, others contributed financially so I can continue to work. Let’s check-in on each other. I know it is not that simple, but it’s a start. If we can find our way to genuine compassion in these times, nothing can stop us from building a more caring, thoughtful, and loving WoHo community.
Another special thanks to the creators who are pulling a smile on our faces through their work. Thanks to:
Eleni for hosting NWHL game simulations on Twitch
Dr. Courtney Szto for her #Daily Dangle series
GamerDoc for a fantastic close to NWHLOpenIce
Delvina Morrow for recording a read aloud for Miller Elementary students
If you need an exercise or nutrition plan, Kate Frese has you covered!
Blake Bolden is literally cooking up some great self-ISO content for us on IG! Follow @SportBlake
We’re in tough times right now. We can and should take time to honor that. Honor those who cannot make fun content because they are essential workers who are fighting for lives daily, or picking up our trash, patrolling the empty streets, or stocking our stores.
We can also embrace the good. We can be thankful for the time we have to reconnect with ourselves and our loved ones. We can try something new or finish that project we never had time for before.
Hockey will return. When it does, I have faith we will be a stronger, more grateful community than before.
This week in Women’s Hockey
A reminder that clicking links curated by The IX catches the eye of outlets. More clicks makes it easier to make the case for more coverage. If we want more WoHo coverage, we have to support WoHo writers.
Two members of the Chinese women’s hockey team test positive for coronavirus after trip to United States.
‘We just made history’: The story of hockey’s first ever Team Trans.
Riveters captain Madison Packer reflects on Minnesota Whitecaps season. Yeah, you read that right.
LISTEN: I was a guest on the Woman Advantage podcast.
Former Utica College star Myers, New Hartford’s Zalewski help grow game.
Mike Murphy presents The Unofficial NWHL All-Rookie Team.
Riveters fans may recognize one of their own in this NYC Ball Hockey story.
Read more about Elizabeth Giguere, last week’s Five at The IX featured athlete and 2020 Patty Kaz winner.
Tweet of the Week
Five at The IX: Princeton head coach Cara Morey
Cara Morey spent six seasons at Princeton before taking over as head coach. In 2020, she took the Tigers to their first-ever ECAC Championship game and defeated the #1 ranked Cornell in overtime. Morey talked to us about the tough transition from assistant to head coach, building momentum with her team, and more.
What role did hockey play in your life growing up and as a part of your family and your community?
Yeah, well I’m Canadian, so it’s kind of ingrained in us. But I think what a lot of people wouldn’t know is I actually didn’t start playing hockey ‘until I was 17 years old. I played when I was really little with my brothers on their teams. (Back) then, it was a time where girls didn’t play hockey. So we had this other game called ringette and that was meant for the girls. And so I played ringette I think from when I was probably eight till 17 — I actually got kicked out of ringette — so then I switched to hockey. But my brothers played hockey, my dad coached hockey, he’s a referee. Like he loved it, it’s just girls didn’t play hockey.
And in my town, you could play with the boys. But back when I was growing up, it was actually against, not against the law. But we, you know, Justine Blainey went to the Supreme Court to fight to allow girls play on a boys team past 12 because that was the rule back then, you could only play until 12 years old. Girls were banned from hockey on boys teams, back then it just wasn’t done. So I actually played ringette but hockey was huge in my life. It was always on television. Like I said, my brothers played and my dad was very involved in all levels of minor hockey. And then I ended up switching over and it kind of changed my life.
I’m curious as as someone who was recruited by Digit Murphy at Brown, what was your take on on her style?
As she was recruiting me, it’s kind of the personality that you see outwardly. She was larger than life and was like, “Gardener, you’re gonna be coming here. You’re coming to my school!”
I was like, okay. Again, (I’m from a) small town, 1000 people. I’d never met people like Digit and she was just, full of energy, full of life. And it was scary, but contagious. There was something a little bit frightening, but I wanted more. And I was like, that’s cool … it ended up being the best decision I ever made, going to brown and playing for Digit. I won’t say she made me who I am, but a big part of who I am was (because of) being at Brown, playing for Digit, having her influence. She is one of the strongest female leaders ever. She only said why not to us. So I never asked if I should be doing things. It was like, why wouldn’t I be doing these things?
She is really full energy and really intense, but we knew that everything she did was because she cared about us. She really just wanted us to be our best. Not just the best hockey players, but best people. She wanted to empower us and she really pushed us to say why not and she pushed us to be feminists and ask for more and demand more and go out and lead. That’s invaluable, that’s the stuff I want to pass on to my players. I don’t have the same approach as Digit .. but my mission is the same and that’s to get my players to ask more of themselves, and get them to be comfortable leading, and get them to be okay with asking why not, and get them to push back on status quos.
I was talking to her this morning that the shocking part is is that we’ve come so far and we really haven’t come far at all. The things I struggled with as a young female in in an Ivy League school are the same things these guys are struggling with 20 years later, and that sort of makes me sad because you think, “Man, we’ve come so far in our sport,”.
But dealing with the stigma of being a feminist is hard for them still, and I’m like, “How have we not got past this already?” It’s been 20 years since I dealt with these things, and they’re probably the same things Digit had dealt 20 years before that.
How did your role come about? What was exciting to you about about the opportunity to work as the head coach at Princeton?
Well, I had been at Princeton as an assistant and then the associate head and so when the former head coach Jeff (Kampersal) chose to leave to go to Penn State and try a whole different model, dealing with scholarships, I just knew it was the place I want it to stay and coach. I had been here for a while I love what they stood for. I had done a lot of work recruiting and bringing in a different type of hockey player. I mean, definitely same type of student, but a different type of athlete on on some levels.
I was really invested and I wanted to stay here. I had looked at other jobs before because I didn’t think the Princeton job would ever open up. I had looked at some other schools but nothing was quite like Princeton to me. So again, it’s when your value systems line up with your administration … that’s why I wanted to stay where I am.
I think throughout the season, your team showed that that you can certainly score. When you think of the ECAC tournament in particular, what stands out to you in about the moments that you and your team really had to pivot in order to secure a win?
Well, geez, (it)started out with having the hardest quarterfinal series I’ve ever experienced. I don’t know how we worked our way to second in the league, it’s rarely happened for Princeton hockey to end up second and we are facing the number 10 team in the country in the first round. And I remember thinking, “How did this happen?” And (Quinnipiac) battled us. They were so physical, they beat the crap out of us. They forced us to battle the entire time and then to go overtime, and then double overtime.
I remember thinking, this is going to have to help us as we go down the stretch. It just had to have because we just didn’t give up. And to lose a two goal lead, to then force double overtime, and then come back and win it. Or in the second game where we got the tying goal late with like a minute left, and then turned around and lost it in overtime. It’s just so many intangibles that they learned from that which was, Digit would call it adversity training for us, but learning that they can overcome anything —that grit, that resiliency. So when we were going into overtime (against Cornell), I was like, they’re so ready for this. They’ve already had two of these games last weekend, you know?
You’re able to win this this ECAC tournament. That is the first time in Princeton’s history.
Yeah, I had no idea that they had never been to the championship game until the semi-final game. I think a reporter told me that and I was like, ‘What? They’ve never been to the championship game?” So then obviously, I guess they’d never won it because they’d never been to the championship game. That was baffling to me. I had no idea.
Wow. Yeah. I mean, so you you are here making history. And then unfortunately, we’re about two weeks removed from an unprecedented cancellation. How did that realization built up for your team?
When you look back now, it seemed inevitable and it makes more sense, but at the time, we had no idea what was going on. And the uncertainty was really difficult. In my mind, I thought we were going to get through the quarterfinal game and that the Frozen Four would be canceled. Yeah. It’s just, you know, it’s started coming out as soon as the NBA canceled. We knew it hung on March Madness. If NCAA was willing to give up March Madness, we were all done.
It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever been through as a coach. I guess on some level, that might be a good thing. If you look at what we’re going through now, it seems trivial. In the moment, it doesn’t seem trivial at all. Because these these women have dedicated their entire lives, our seniors especially. I’ve never been around so much crying. And it’s interesting because seniors graduate every year, so they’re leaving, but these girls had to leave three games early and it was devastating. I mean, I’m sure part of it was too that they were leaving campus, so they wouldn’t see their friends. Just having things happen too early. It’s really hard to process because they feel like they’ve been robbed of something.
Now, of course, we’re all okay because it’s hockey and health and safety is the most important. But when you’re going through it in the moment, it was devastating for them, especially because they really believed in their hearts that they had as good a chance as anyone at that national title. I mean, they had just beaten the number one team in the country so … nobody can tell them that they didn’t have a chance of winning. And something clicked with them, something intangible, something culturally where they really just loved each other and they were playing for each other and it was it was really incredible to watch as a coach.
So it was devastating because I’ve never seen so much heartbreak … we were just crushed for the seniors. And you never know if you’re going to get the chance again, you just don’t. So it was really hard, and and then on some level, it made me feel happy … knowing that they cared that much about each other, and they believed so much in each other that it was devastating to them. So on some level then, you’ve done something right, as a coach.