Breakdown Extras - Jan 6 - Jan 13

Want more from this week in women’s sports? Here are some bonus insights from the most exciting stories of the week!

U18 IIHF Women’s Ice Hockey Championship brings international hockey to Japan

The women’s ice hockey season is in full swing, and teams across the NWHL and the CWHL boast rosters that include a multitude of players with international titles under their belt. While we can look forward to the senior Ice Hockey Women’s World Championships later this month, the U18 Women’s World Championship currently taking place in Obihiro, Japan offers a lot to be excited about.  The tournament, this year featuring Canada, the United States, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Russia, and host country and new-comers to the tournament, Japan, gives a look at some of the best up-and-coming talent in the women’s game, including several players bound for college hockey in the next few years. Team USA’s Abbey Murphey, who’s committed to the University of Minnesota has tallied two goals and one assist in the team’s three competitions, and Canada’s University of Wisconsin-bound Maddi Wheeler has put up four assists from the blue line.

While there is a lot to be said about the futures of the girls currently competing at the Championship, it also gives a lot of hope for the growth of girls’ participation in hockey across the world, especially in Asia. Countries like Japan and China have seen a boom of interest in ice hockey in the past several years, and along with efforts by the CWHL, which has had at least one team in China since the 2017-18 season, and the NHL, which hosted a showcase series in China during the 2018 preseason,  this championship gives more opportunities for girls in the area to participate in and witness high level international hockey. While team Japan has lost the three games they’ve played so far and is headed to the relegation round against the Czech Republic on 1/10, there is no doubt their appearance in the top level of U18 competition will have a lasting impact on the women’s and girl’s ice hockey community in Japan.

Japan taking on the Czech Republic

Japan taking on the Czech Republic

Dr. Bernice Sandler leaves behind undeniable legacy

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance”. These immortal words of Title IX, part of the education amendments of 1972, spurred a revolution in women’s sport. However, the comment that spurred the so called “godmother of Title IX”, Dr. Bernice Sandler, to advocate for the educational rights of women and girls were less than encouraging: “you come on too strong for a woman”. 

While Sandler was most concerned with the staffing and academic opportunities available at public institutions, it is indisputable that the passage of Title IX has provided many girls and women with the opportunity to participate in sport. One can see the impact of Sandler’s efforts simply by looking at the numbers of girls and women participating in sport today compared to 1978, when the amendment was enacted. As reported by the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education, the number of women participating in college sport has grown from around 30,000 to around 200,000. The numbers of girls playing sports in high school are even more staggering, with about 3 million more girls participating than there were in 1972.

 Sandler’s passing this past weekend has sparked many athletes and organizations to come out and acknowledge her lasting accomplishments and impact on the opportunities available to girls aspiring to be athletes.  Coach Cheryl Reeve of the Minnesota Lynx thanked Sandler for “coming on too strong” in a tribute to her on twitter, and US Soccer star Abby Wambach contributed her own opportunity for success as an athlete to Sandler’s advocacy. Sandler’s commitment to advancing opportunities for women and her unapologetic strength lives on in the millions of girls participating in sports today and the extraordinary accomplishments of women athletes around the globe.

2019 NWSL College Draft

While we’ll be waiting until June for the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France, plenty of excitement occurred in Chicago this week with the NWSL College Draft taking place on January 10th. The 2019 draft was already exciting in that college players who had yet to reach their senior year or exhaust their NCAA eligibility were permitted to register for the draft. This rule change opened the door for Stanford junior Tierna Davidson to go first overall to the Chicago Red Stars. Davidson’s skills as a defender have already gotten her 12 appearances with the US women’s national team and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see her in France this June. In a video posted on twitter, Davidson contributed much to her time at Stanford and thanked her collegiate team, as well as voiced her excitement for future endeavors with both the NWSL and the national team.  We may expect more top players taking this route in the future, given the opportunities it has presented to Davidson in the form of an allocated salary from the US Soccer Federation.

There was also a lot of commotion around Sky Blue FC and the Washington Spirit, as both teams were vying to fill rosters that have taken heavy hits from players deciding not to return to the clubs, or the absence of players headed to the World Cup. The Washington Spirit had four out of nine picks in the first round, trading three of their players to Sky Blue to obtain the third pick overall, ensuring they acquired Jordan DiBiasi, a midfielder out of Stanford. Despite giving up that pick to Washington, Sky Blue had nine picks throughout the entirety of the draft to bolster their roster. In the first round they selected Halie Mace from UCLA as the number two pick and North Carolina’s Julia Ashley as the eighth. It will be interesting to see how these draft developments will impact both Sky Blue FC and the Washington Spirit, as the teams finished last and second to last respectively in the 2018 season.

Tierna Davidson’s former club at Stanford -

Tierna Davidson’s former club at Stanford -

NWHL’s Boston Pride announce partnership with Bruins

More news in the women’s hockey world comes from the announced partnership between the NWHL’s Boston Pride and the Boston Bruins of the NHL. This is the fourth such partnership between the NHL and NWHL as the Minnesota Whitecaps, Metropolitan Riveters, and the Buffalo Beauts have partnerships with the Minnesota Wild, New Jersey Devils and the Buffalo Sabers respectively. In a quote about the new collaboration, NWHL commissioner Dani Rylan stated that these relationships between NWHL and NHL teams have been mutually-beneficial and that “…the Pride will bring to the table as they build women’s and girls’ hockey programs in their community.” Pride goaltender Katie Burt also offered some insight from the players, saying that “This is a tremendous opportunity for us, and we appreciate the support from the Bruins. We look forward to working with them on great programs for the betterment of hockey across the region.”

The partnership will include a new Bruins Academy Girls Learn to Play program, which will feature instruction from Pride players, as well as a full set of equipment. Other points of collaboration will be in the form of marketing and financial support for the Pride. The Pride players made appearances at the Bruins game on 1/10 and the Bruins will be sending support to the Pride’s game on 1/12 in the form of representatives and their mascot, Blades.

Anya Alvarez