The IX: Hockey Friday with Erica L. Ayala – March 20, 2020

What if ... Interview with Digit Murphy - Must-click WoHo links!

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What if …

Hello from my bedroom aka home office.

The coronavirus pandemic continues to across the world, cancelling or postponing nearly all sports. This weekend, I planned to cover the Frozen Four before heading to see Hamilton on Broadway with my family. Tomorrow, we would learn who won the 2020 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award.

However, all the aforementioned events have been cancelled. We are expected to have the Patty Kaz winner announced at some point, per USA Hockey.

“USA Hockey announced today it has canceled the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award Ceremony and Brunch that was scheduled to take place in conjunction with … the NCAA Women’s Frozen Four.”

“While the formal event will not be staged, USA Hockey will announce the winner, with the final timing and format unveiled next week.”

Although we will not have a 2020 NCAA Champion, we are expected to get a Patty Kaz winner. A few weeks ago, we broke down the Top-10 Finalists at The IX. Since, the committee named Elizabeth Giguere (Quebec City, Que./Clarkson University), Alina Mueller (Winterthur, Switzerland/Northeastern University) and Abby Roque (Sault Ste. Marie, Mich./University of Wisconsin) as the Top-3 Finalists.

All three women were headed to the NCAA Tournament. Giguere and Roque were set to meet in the quarterfinals. Mueller & Hockey East champions Northeastern drew the Princeton Tigers (ECAC Champions) in the first round. The Ohio State University would have returned to Ridder to take on the Gophers. The amazing season by Cornell earned them the top overall seed and a first round matchup with Mercyhurst. Rounding out the first round was a rematch of the 2019 semifinals game between Clarkson & Wisconsin.

We will never know how things would have turned out. I know lots of people much smarter than me are using all kinds of simulators to play out sporting matchups. It’s a stats-heavy process, I would imagine. Thus, immediately intimidating for me personally.

I’m all about the eye test and I live for the moments a team or an individual player tosses away all the “on paper” storylines & delivers an inspiring performance that defies all odds. Hard as we may try, we cannot virtually reenact the madness of March.

But, what if we moved it to say … September?

I’ve been thinking a lot about what to do about the 2020 Championship Tournaments that never were. In some ways, the state of women’s hockey could put the sport in a unique position to still name a 2020 champion.

What if instead of a preseason schedule, the eight qualified teams play the 2020?

There is a laundry list of things that would need to be worked out, but some of the challenges are manageable. The NCAA would have to decide what to do with players that would be out of eligibility this year and the incoming freshman for the fall. I would recommend playing the 2020 Tournament as the first set of games including the outgoing seniors. Once the 2020 trophy is hoisted, programs can integrate incoming freshman/transfers and resume the 2020-21 season.

Potential challenges include (but are not limited to):

  • Seniors being willing & able to return

  • Insurance – how would that work?

  • Ice time

  • Travel

  • The NCAA agreeing to this format

We might be a ways from knowing if or how an alternative plan is possible. But, with so many amazing hockey minds forced off the ice during this time, I hope there are some scenarios being drafted.

This week in Women’s Hockey

There is plenty to read, listen to, and watch (Can you survive a Ms. Audra Richards & Cappy workout?!) this week. A reminder that clicking links curated by The IX catches the eye of outlets. If we want more WoHo coverage, we have to support WoHo writers.

Color of Hockey: Women making increasing impact.

VIDEO: Stay fit with Ms. Audra Richards & Cappy.

Kristen Campbell with a heartbreaking start and (presumptive) finish to her Wisconsin career.

‘Gender reveal’ sign directed at Northampton girl hockey player shows sexism girls still face in sports.

PODCAST: I chat with Buffalo Beauts captain Corinne Buie for #TheOriginalEight series.

NHL Coaches Association announced new initiative to elevate women in coaching.

Conway and Masotta led Norwich to NEHC Championship title

Hockey Hall of Famer Haley Wickeheiser wants the IOC to do better by athletes in this time of crisis.

Pride had a ‘special group’ before Isobel postponement.

80-year-old Russian woman finds her way on the ice.

Cornell coaches lament loss of a chance at a Frozen Four sweep.

SDHL cancels season ahead of Championship Series.

Former BC women’s hockey star Allie Thunstrom’s Isobel dream on hold.

‘You can’t become what you can’t see’: Women’s hockey comes to Tempe.

OSU women’s hockey send ‘fan mail’ to local third graders preparing for their ‘big game’. This is the cutest thing and definitely would have made math less intimidating for me.

Boston Pride forward Mary Parker’s path to the Isobel Cup Final.

Despite postponement and uncertainty, NWHL MVP has faith Isobel Cup final will be played

The Ice Garden put together a NWHL e-season! Great on them, but shame on the gaming business for forcing us create male players because they don’t include women in their games.

Tweet of the Week

Worldwide leader in what, now?!

Three (solid answers) at The IX: Digit Murphy

Her resume speaks for itself, so to quote her, “Look it up!” Highly recommend her podcast, The Grit as well. Excerpts from my conversation with Digit Murphy.

Digit, we are at at time where the NCAA Women’s Hockey Tournament is a huge event. Your alma mater Cornell had a great year. However, due to the ongoing health threat of coronavirus we will not have the Frozen Four. What are your initial thoughts to the cancellation of the Frozen Four?

Well, I hope that they automatically crown (Cornell) number one and they get an NCAA Championship for the first time (laughs) …. that would be my first thought! They probably won’t do that.

I think it kind of puts athletics into perspective of life, and I think we as pioneers in the industry can remember a time when that wasn’t the case. It was just what it was supposed to be, which was your platform for learning and once your done with your college —women or men, mostly — you just move on and you use those skills as you move through life.

Quite frankly, I just remember a simpler time when you played to love it and you didn’t play for money and you didn’t play for scholarships. You played to win and you played for passion. So hopefully, this is a little bit of a reminder to people why they do play the game and to understand there are other things in life, not just sports.

With that said, this is a different generation and what has been interesting to me is to realize the journey of Kristen Campbell. Her Wisconsin career started after UND ended its women’s program. It will end with the NCAA Tournament being cancelled. Sports is a luxury, but that looks different on the women’s side.

Well, a couple of things. I think that when you compare it to the length of time that we’ve been organized — 1972 happens and Title IX happens and nothing really resonates with equal opportunity in athletics, quite frankly, until the 90’s. When the whole Brown Athletics court case happened, that was really a time when athletics for women really started to gain momentum.

So, you’re talking about a 20 year gap from when TItle IX was officially implemented (plug for 37 seconds with @DigitMurphy because Title IX only has 37 words, LOOK IT UP!), that’s because Title IX was an educational statue that wasn’t put in place for sports. We ended up using it for sports as a gender because it was a way that we could fight for equality.

With that said, when you look at the amount of time that women have been organized … when you look at women’s ice hockey and the context of how you put it, we haven’t been doing it for that long. And, unfortunately, we fight a system that has been doing it — not just men’s hockey, but men being in control of the world in general — since time began.

So when you start to think of it in those terms, and I really don’t think these athletes look at it in those terms. They look at is as me and now, and that’s cool, because they’re young & their supposed to be like that. But, if you really take a step back and you look at it from a historical perspective, we’re gaining ground.

But, what has to change is the leadership decisions at the top (the athletic director’s, the NCAA, the president’s of the university) have to understand athletics isn’t just about winning and losing. What it’s about, it’s about a valuable teaching tool that raises athletes to a higher level in society because they’re learning fabulous lessons of leadership. Once they start to turn that perspective on its head, I really think that we’re gonna want to care about sports a lot more, especially for women.

I pointed you to an article that details that women, or women’s hockey coaches are given more of a leash when it comes to wins and losses … I wanted to get your thoughts on this article from Syracuse University that was based on an opinion piece from Mark McGuire.

You know what I think. You can make any argument in a vacuum. You can make any argument based on a small sampling of people who think a certain way. But, if you look at it from a larger viewpoint, vantage point, let’s really unpack why women may be perceived, or women’s coaches may be perceived as having a longer leash.

Let’s do a side-by-side comparison of salaries, resources given to recruiting, ice time, and once you tell me that those are 1000% equitable, then you can measure them with the same stick.

Things like marketing resources given, television time, anything that is 100% resource-driven that has equal … ‘cause I’ll tell you right now, there are women that probably would have went into coaching if it wasn’t such a pain in the butt, or wouldn’t have left coaching if it wasn’t such a pain in the butt.

Because, when you have less resources and you have to deal with more … whatever it is that we deal with as coaches … busing to places instead of flying to places like your male counterparts, it’s a hard life and it’s a grind. And, it’s not just women that don’t do it or don’t choose it. It’s (also) men that don’t choose it.

How about this? How about we pay women more, war pay, if we think about it. How about, if you’re getting on a bus instead of a plane, or if you’re ice time is at 7 in the morning – where I know Cornell practices — instead of 3 in the afternoon, that’s war pay!

Maybe we should be getting more. I’m just being provocative because you can make any argument you want in that vacuum. But when you really look at bottom line … and it differs between schools. Union could have a different hockey budget than Harvard, and they play in the same league … it’s all not completely fair. So, at the end of the day, it’s up to each individual institution to strike the balance between how much “leash” they give that coach.

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 High Post Hoops
Thursdays: Golf
By Carly Grenfell, @Carlygren
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala,@ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster

Written by Erica L. Ayala