Recognizing the tremendous influence female coaches have on an athlete’s future in the game, on International Women’s Day 2020 the NHLCA proudly announced a new initiative to help support the development of female hockey coaches across all levels of the game. Female coaches are a critical component of supporting the growth of hockey at the grassroots level, and it is essential to the game to diversify the current pool of hockey coaches.
The NHLCA Female Coaches Development Program is an initiative that aims to support female coaches in several areas including skills development, leadership strategies, communication tactics, networking, and career advancement opportunities.
The inaugural year of the program included a group of 50 female hockey coaches selected from across North America, many in partnership with their local NHL team. Ensuring there is a strong connection to the communities from which the coaches are based is a cornerstone of the program. Program candidates for Year 2 of the program, which coincides with the 2021-2022 NHL season, have been selected.
Our research suggests there are three critical elements to accelerating the growth of girls hockey: access to inclusive programming in early childhood, casual and aspirational pathways in hockey development, and quality female coaching and role models along that journey. We can close the gender gap in hockey with the right partnerships and strategies, and this NHLCA Female Coaches Development Program is advancing equity in a way that will produce dividends for the sport long-term.