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U.S. women’s hockey national team star Kendall Coyne Schofield became the first woman ever to compete in the National Hockey League's All-Star Skills Competition this past weekend.
“History was made and barriers were broken,” Coyne Schofield wrote on Twitter. “It was such an honor to be the first woman to compete in the NHL All Star Skills Competition last night. I can’t wait to see what the future holds!”
Coyne Schofield’s historic showing in San Jose, Calif., was a last-minute add to the Fastest Skater competition lineup. Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon was forced to drop out of the All-Star Weekend due to a bruised foot. Typically, the NHL would simply scratch his spot — but instead they named Coyne Schofield as a replacement.
She inspired loud cheers in the arena as she participated in the Fastest Skater contest, in which eight skaters were timed for one full lap around the rink.
ESPN named Coyne Schofield’s showing as one of the best moments of the All-Star Competition.
Also during the weekend, her teammate Brianna Decker served as a special guest to demonstrate the competition’s Premier Passer contest. (Since Decker was a demonstrator her time wasn’t officially counted on the clock, but fans watching reported she completed it in 1:06, which would have won; the NHL later said her time was 1:12.)
Monique and Jocelyne Lamoureaux, the women’s teammates and Know Your Value contributors, raved on Facebook about Coyne Schofield and Decker “mak[ing] history”: “An amazing night of females showcasing that #webelong.”
Monique Lamoureaux also told Know Your Value, "It's awesome that the NHL is appealing to a female fanbase, and showing that women's hockey is becoming more popular. [Kendall and Brianna] showed what female hockey players are capable of.
She added, "A lot of people don’t think we're as fast or as strong as the men, but this shows our skill sets are comparable."
The Lamoureux twins have been outspoken advocates for gender equity in both pay and opportunity, within the sports world and beyond. In 2014, the women helped lead their national hockey team’s fight for fair and equal treatment by USA Hockey and the International Ice Hockey Federation. Their efforts focused on equal pay compared to the men’s hockey team, more funding for girls’ youth hockey programs, and fairer training and marketing support for women’s hockey.
In the end, the Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid won the Fastest Skater contest for the third time running, posting a time of 13.378 seconds. Coyne Schofield came in at 14.346 seconds, which placed her seventh among the field.
The point, Coyne Schofield said later, wasn’t about where she placed.
"I knew it was a moment that was going to break a lot of barriers,” she told ESPN, “and a moment that would change the perception of our game.”