Yesterday, the players trickled into Allied Veterans Memorial Rink in Everett slowly from the outside world. Forward Emily Field was the first to arrive, showing up around 2pm along with the media contingent; defender Marissa Gedman was one of the last, delayed by an organic chemistry class according to a league representative. In addition to limited press duties, players were outfitted with new gear (including pads, skates, and sticks) and spotted filling out W-4s, a form for employers in the US to withhold taxes from employee income (yes!) before they hit the ice.
The NWHL supplied press with a detailed roster of the players on the ice; notably missing from both the roster and practice were star players who have been confirmed by an internal source but not yet publicly acknowledged by the league: Kacey Bellamy, Brianna Decker, Gigi Marvin, and Hilary Knight (#knightwatch continues)? Zoe Hickel was also absent. GM Hayley Moore, head coach Bobby Jay, and assistant coach Lauren McAuliffe were also present for the media and player equipment fittings.
Representatives from Bauer and Base Hockey were present to fit players from a wide selection of gear and sticks. (Base Hockey brought a heat gun and hand-saw to the party, which was very exciting for this incurably handy blogger.) While clarification is still forthcoming on Bauer’s relationship to the NWHL as a sponsor, Bauer sales representative Tom Quinn confirmed that the league is purchasing equipment for players and it will not be provided outright as part of a sponsorship. A few players declined to be fitting for various items, including Alyssa Gagliardi, who has recently purchased new skates; a league representative said that players are not required to use league-provided gear.
Mid-afternoon, the press convened in a warm side room for two press conferences, one with players and the other with the GM and head coach. (Forward Amanda Pelkey generously brought us a fan in the short interval between the two.) Pelkey, goalie Brittany Ott, and goalie Kelsie Fralick represented the Pride in the player press conference and spoke to their excitement about the upcoming season and the new team. They remained neutral when I asked about future team rivalries: we’ll see how they feel by the end of the season.
GM Hayley Moore and head coach Bobby Jay discussed the thrill of coaching and assembling the roster of such an elite group of players, as well as future involvement with the Boston sports community (yes: look for further interaction with the Lowell Spinners and the Boston Breakers).
A league representative also addressed my question about the NWHL’s use of social media.
Overall, it was a full day for players and media alike. On a personal level, it was great to meet up with Kat Hemming (@KatHemming), Kate Cimini (@lightsthelamp), and Sarah Connors (@sarah_connors), and I felt the Boston Pride truly made us as welcome as the members of the mainstream media present. The friendliness and positivity energy from the players were also palpable.
Watch the players hit the ice:
[vimeo 138701999 w=500 h=281]