The IX: Hockey Friday with Erica L. Ayala, May 15, 2020

For all the wrong reasons - Interview with Kendall Cornine - Must-click WoHo Links

(Hi! Howard Megdal here. The IX helps build the necessary infrastructure for women’s sports media. In this moment, freelance budgets are being cut, reporters are losing their jobs. Women’s sports always bears the brunt of that first.

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All the attention, for all the wrong reasons

The article written by Melissa Burgess, Kirsten Whelan, Zoë Hayden got a lot of attention on social media on Mother’s Day, but for all the wrong reasons.

On Sunday, as I quietly cleaned my clothes along with what seemed like all the sons and fathers in my building, I noticed WoHo Twitter was aflutter. Not with Happy Mother’s Day messages or one of the challenges, quizzes, or other activities forced down our throats in quarantine.

No, this was a flood of fingers sounding off with their thoughts about the article. Across my timeline for the next few days were several “hot takes”, but most boil down to four points:

  • The treatment of women’s professional hockey players is unacceptable

  • The NWHL under the leadership of Anya Packer has made changes

  • The statement made by the NWHL was poor form

  • There is extreme bias in women’s hockey

So now I’ll give you my take: all of the aforementioned statements are true. Here is what I will add:

  • Criticizing people for speaking anonymously is problematic. It ignores company power structures that keep employees quiet about subpar working conditions or treatment. 

  • None of the reporting was in the least shocking or unbelievable to me. And, that’s a problem.

  • Women’s hockey deserves better, but many of us are so busy trying to win the Twitter argument that we are losing sight of the real issues and solutions. That is what EVERYONE should focus on: leagues, players, media, and fans.

Regarding anonymity: After the #ForTheGame social media blitz last year, I reached out to several players for comment. One told me she would speak but didn’t want her name attached. I had a choice. I could ignore the personal account altogether, or find a way to still tell the story. Well, read this to see what I decided to do.

Recently, I gave an account of my own professional situation in which others decided to remain anonymous. I can dislike my situation and be thankful for the opportunities it has/will provide. Thus, I find it hard to judge someone for sharing their story on their terms.

Regarding WoHo Conditions: No, I was not shocked by anything I read. Some critiques about the piece pertain to the timeline. I ran into this as well when writing about the NWSL’s Sky Blue FC for Deadspin back in 2018. The timeline, in relation to the changes made, is a place where there is room for more conversation. I also think a historical comparison of the CWHL, NWHL, and the PWHPA are important. I think there are consistent barriers to progress. How much of that is a management thing? Is there a glass ceiling for WoHo pro leagues? This leads me to my final takeaway.

Women’s hockey deserves better: Those who point out the rotten fruit deserve to have their voices heard and reporting respected. Those who competed in the CWHL or left the NWHL deserved better, and those who stay/join also deserve better. Those who competed in PWHPA events deserve better. There are women’s national teams that deserve better.

There is no one way to achieve better. Progress looks different at different times and for different people. The only thing that is proven to be a detriment to progress is the suppression of truth.

The NWHL is the first North America league to pay its players. The question being asked now is, what will women’s hockey look like once women’s hockey evolves to livable wages? That’s the endpoint everyone can agree on.

This week in Women’s Hockey

Hey there! In a time with no live sports, there are plenty of writers finding great stories to tell. Clicking these links helps show the audience for women’s hockey. It also helps spread the word about The IX Newsletter. How about that for a win-win!

Here is the original article by The Victory Press, with Anya Packer’s tweet now added. TVP editor Zoë Hayden wrote more about the reporting on her Medium blog.

Imanis Bashir writes about Blake Bolden for Oprah Mag and my #TeamMoreMelanin heart melts.

Hockey Moms by The Players’ Tribune.

If you have a subscription to The Athletic, I highly recommend this Q&A with Kayla Friesen. She talks about the NWHL Draft, falling out of love with the game, and why transferring to Clarkson helped her accelerate her development.

WGBH Radio: Boston Pride’s Sammy Davis Finds Joy In Times Of Uncertainty.

Mandy Cronin joins NWHL Toronto franchise.

The Stats Man aka Mike Murphy has unveiled a massive project. Cannot wait to dig deeper into the work!

The PWHPA announces five training hubs for the 2020-21 cycle. They add Calgary and New Hampshire, drop Boston, Buffalo, and the New York-Metro area. Also of note, players will essentially try out for one of 25 roster spots for each region. The open registration is also a new feature.

The New Years Resolution Maddie Norton made that helped her make NWHL history.

Emily Kaplan chats with Digit Murphy about NWHL Toronto and other women’s hockey topics.

Brooke Destra makes a case for the NWHL to expand to Philadelphia.

Tweet of the Week

This is definitely the reality

Five at The IX: Kendall Cornine

This interview with Kendall was conducted early last month. On March 26, she was the first player to sign a contract for the 2020-21 season.

You were the first player to sign up for season six. Why don’t you take us through the story of your first contract with the Metropolitan Riveters? What were you hearing about the league before you officially signed on board?

Yes, so in my senior year at RIT I found out, I believe it was in December, last year’s draft that I was selected by the Metropolitan Riveters and I was just really excited to be able to come back home and, and kind of know that I had to a place to continue my playing career that it wasn’t just over after my senior year.

In the summer when everything was kind of unknown about the league, I just kind of made the decision that I wanted to play hockey, that I believed in the NWHL. I don’t have a single complaint, it was the most fun I’ve had playing hockey since my youth.

I’ve heard a lot from players on this Riveters team that this was a lot of fun. So let’s break that down. What do you think made the chemistry and the vibe on this team such a great experience for everyone?

I just think we had the right group in the locker room. Everyone’s personalities just kind of meshed together. We were all pretty high energy, just wanting to spend time together. We were always hanging out on the weekend. We were always trying to get everyone together at practice.

I think that when you have a good chemistry in a locker room, it says a lot about the experience that you have throughout the season.

I’m curious Kendall, if you had to pick one of your teammates who was really good at ramping up the fun, getting the party started, who would that be?

I think that was (Captain Madison) Packer for sure. You know, she kind of set the tone from day one, what’s what’s expected of us. But then, she also liked to have a good time. She was always with us. She was always at the heart of the fun and just keeping everyone going throughout the season.

On the other end of the spectrum, who would be the one to get everyone focused and get back to business?

I think Moose (Alternate Captain Rebecca Morse), as much as Moose loves to have fun, I think that she did a really good job of getting us focused. She always gave us that pregame pep talk in the huddle before games started. I think she was really good at kind of honing everyone’s energy in and getting us to focus on game time.

When did you pretty much make up your mind that coming back to the Riveters was something that you wanted to do?

We played Minnesota, I think. Was that a Sunday? I think, yeah, it was a Sunday, Kate (Whitman Annis, general manager) called me not even 24-hours later and asked me if I wanted to come back for season six. I didn’t even have to think about it. I knew that it was exactly where I want it to be and that I wanted to continue to play.

That’s a pretty quick response there from your GM but also from from yourself. I’d imagine that part of the reason that you want to come back was was to build on on your rookie year.

I think that as a team, we definitely have a lot more that we want to prove. We had a strong season, but I think that there’s a lot of games that we wish we could go back and replay, that we know we just had a lot more to give. We dropped a couple games that we were just beating ourselves up about … just starting out by taking it game-by-game next season will be extremely helpful for us, taking it a period at a time. I’m just excited to be back with with this group and see what else we have to give next year.

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