The IX: Hockey Friday with Erica L. Ayala, October 23, 2020
WoHo Making Big Moves — Interview with new NWHL Commissioner Ty Tumminia — Must-click women's hockey links
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WoHo making BIG moves
A $1 million donation, a new beer sponsor, roster updates, the return of Digit Murphy. There has been so much good women’s hockey news! I’ll admit, I’m a little uneasy by it all.
For months, the news has been this public mud-slinging contest (let’s please not deny the tension and we’re not out of the woods). However, all signs point to women’s hockey being in a good position to forge ahead. There are absolutely no signs that men’s hockey is remotely interested at this time, which I think is fine.
The PWHPA announced the roster for their regional hubs. Initially, the idea was to have tryouts. I have not heard that those actually took place (likely because of COVID) and the rosters look like what most people expected.
What is new is not only new Twitter handles (H/T Michelle Jay) but team colors from the looks of it. Last season, PWHPA players had two jerseys and they’d swap those depending on what team they competed with. Some names are in new locations and some names are missing (cries real tears not seeing Blake Bolden listed).
The BIGGEST NEWS of course is the announcement of the $1 million donation given to the PWHPA by Secret. I suppose I’m assuming it’s a donation, the language used is includes “gives” or “commits”. In this way, the PWHPA is operating like the CWHL. The operations appear to be bankrolled by corporate donations or sponsorships. That is all fine now, since the PWHPA is not a league, by its own admission.
No dates have been announced to my knowledge, but that is likely COVID-related as well.
The league continues to sign players and march ahead to its projected January 2021 start. The Boston Pride recently announced a partnership with Harpoon, a local brewery. The deal will include “co-marketing promotions and events, including virtual happy hours for Pride fans.” Well, cheers to virtual Happy Hour!
North of the border, the Toronto Six named Digit Murphy the first head coach in team history. Murphy was already on board as team president. In April, Murphy told The IX she was seeking women to coach the team.
Although the NWHL has a timeline for Season 6 in mind, there is much up in the air. Read more from my interview with Ty Tumminia below.
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This Week in Women’s Hockey
DO YOU BELIEVE IN MORE COVERAGE FOR WOMEN IN SPORTS? Good, click these links and show decision-makers that if you post it, we will read it! If you have any hot tips for great stories or voices you’d like to see in The IX, email me: erica@ericaLayala.com.
“I don’t think I really fully understood the idea of being a pioneer when we were playing in the 90’s” Cammi Granato sits down with Cali Sports News.
Digit Murphy becomes the first head coach in Toronto Six history.
Captain Winny Brodt Brown returns to the Whitecaps.
Hilary Knight in Minnesota? PWHPA reveals regional rosters.
NWHL interim commissioner Ty Tumminia joins the Founding 4 Podcast.
New York Islanders bring together players to discuss the future of the women’s game.
Mike Murphy reviews Too Many Men on the Ice.
Samantha Impaglia on the offseason moves for the Riveters and what it means for Season 6.
SUNY Athletic Conference cancels winter sports season.
WBUR: Massachusetts shuts down hockey, college and pro teams not impacted.
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Five at The IX: Interview with Ty Tumminia
Ty Tuminnia is brining her wealth of knowledge in baseball to the NWHL. I spoke to the new interim commissioner about several things, including the World Series. Watch the full episode on my Sports Talk ELA YouTube Channel.
What is your hockey origin story?
I come from minor league baseball. I come from a baseball family, I grew up in baseball … I worked in baseball, I married into baseball. So I mean, it’s just all around kind of boring, I guess. But um, yeah. So my experiences in my baseball, my group owned six minor league teams in six different states. It mirrors a lot with what’s going on with the NWHL we have 6 teams, 6 different areas.
As I was looking in the next stages of my life … candidly, I’ve got two little girls, and they love hockey. And, and for me, it’s about that Women’s Movement, right? It’s about how I can help a marginalized community and how I can be a part of that? So although I love my baseball … I’m excited about this new next chapter. And that is what appealed to me when it came to the role initially as chairman of the Toronto Six. It was something I feel very passionate about. It’s something that I want to help. As my two little girls become women I hope they become strong, independent, and confident woman. And I think not only could I serve as a role model in my house, right at home with them, but how can I elevate the game and attention and be a part of that collaborate with a lot of people. And so that’s what’s exciting to me about hockey right now. There’s some, some room to grow. But this is an awesome time for women’s sports. And I want to be part of that movement, for sure.
When it comes to someone who’s been in operations, who’s been in ownership, where do you see the the potential? How do you hope to impact the the potential that women’s hockey has right now?
I will say my success was around a group that had the same methodology and philosophy, in that ownership group in baseball. I will echo and say that another reason why I want to be part of this group was that you really have some true genuine backers here in this league … it’s very important to the sustainability of women’s hockey, or women’s sport, is the banking and true banking – like sponsorship, broadcast, all the operational aspects that need to go and be choreographed for success.
So for the Board of Governors … we’ve instituted, they’re really the ruling and governing body of the NWHL. And so you have each team and they’re the members of the league. And so the members then appointed a governor. So now what you’re doing right off the bat is choosing new leadership … you’re elevating the level of operation administration right out of the gate. So yes, there’s a lot of protocols and checks and balances now … it’s necessary when you’re trying to elevate the sponsorship and broadcast aspect of it too.
As of now, only two teams (Boston Pride and Toronto Six) are privately owned. As the model shifts, what structures or protocols will be in place as the league seeks owners for the other four teams?
In my role is, as I think it’s been eight days that I’ve been tasked with this, there’s a lot of an evaluation period that has to go on first.
Toronto and Boston have those independent owners and we’ve been private prior to me being tasked with the interim Commissioner. They were working out levels of what that structure would would look like for new people coming in. You have the league, and then you have the Players Association, right. And then you have the independent own team. So there’s going to have to be a map that gets laid out as from a communication standpoint, from bylaws and governance standpoint. That will orchestrate as we go through this. But yeah, it’s just more of a it’s just more of a checks and balance kind of thing.
Have there been some owners that have shown interest?
I mean, look, when you have news like this, it’s a natural you get a flux of people … who naturally go, ‘Oh, hey, what is this market look like? I have some interest.’
We’ve had some immediate interest in a couple of the clubs. I think that helps. Once you kind of broadcast that there for sale. I think that, you know, always would help the league. So yeah, we do have some some interesting stuff. Um, I wouldn’t say anything, you know, real real close yet, but there is definitely some interest.
We still are evaluating the impacts of Coronavirus. As of right now, what updates would you offer when it comes to being on track for Season Six and what the league is considering when it comes to just a safety, let alone starting up the season?
Yeah, great question. So I’ll give you my short term and long term goals here, right? My immediate goals is we have athletes on ice athletes are literally practicing, we’ve got our rosters filled, and now we don’t schedule … I’ve got to figure out what the Season Six really look like. I can tell you, myself and the board are working really hard, behind the scenes, in a very quick fashion to come up with what Season Six does look like. Our main priority right now is talking about alternatives and talking about what our goal is for Season Six, it’s really safety and health concerns. It’s a weird time even to take on a leadership challenge role, right? Like, there’s only so much I could do over zoom.
And then also number two, I’m coming into a massive pandemic. There’s so much risk involved and I certainly don’t want to put our athletes in jeopardy. So we’re trying really, really hard and burning the midnight oil to try to figure out what what we could do to for our fans to get some kind of semblance of a Season Six.
I will promise you on this … that we are really trying to get something out of Season Six. Unless we get shut down of course, and CDC says nobody’s playing. But I can assure you that we’re working to have some kind of a season.