US women's hockey star Kendall Coyne Schofield enjoying new gig as Sharks TV commentator
Busting through gender barriers is getting to be old hat for Kendall Coyne Schofield.
A member of the U.S. women’s national hockey team, she grew up going toe-to-toe on the ice with the boys in Chicago’s youth leagues. Then, last year, she endeared herself to fans in San Jose and elsewhere when she became the first woman to participate in the “fastest skater” event held during the NHL’s All-Star festivities at the SAP Center.
And this season, Coyne Schofield, 27, achieved another first when she joined the guys in the TV broadcast booth as an analyst for select Sharks games on NBC Sports California (NBCSCA).
The new gig has been a blast for the Olympic gold medalist and six-time world champion. Even better: It’s a chance to have a positive impact on others.
“I’ve talked to a lot of girls who have said, ‘I heard you on the Sharks broadcast. I didn’t know girls do that!’” she said before a recent game in San Jose. “It’s cool to hear that — and hopefully it inspires them to say, ‘I can do that, too, someday.’”
In joining Randy Hahn, Jamie Baker and Bret Hedican on the Sharks telecasts, Coyne Schofield furthers the advancement of women in sports broadcasting and the NHL, in particular. While NBC Sports California and its sibling, NBC Sports Bay Area, have employed women as sideline reporters and studio analysts, this is the first time the regional cable networks have had a woman in the broadcast booth.
Hahn points out that up to 45% of Sharks fans are women and he believes Coyne Schofield is helping to bring “more females into the tent.” But on top of that, he’s impressed by her knowledge and enthusiasm.
“Kendall’s a quick study,” he said. “The transition has been remarkably smooth. And as she gets more reps and we all get more used to each other, it’s going to get better and better.”
For Coyne Schofield, who has three games remaining on her Sharks schedule, preparing for a broadcast isn’t all that different from preparing to play. She scouts San Jose’s opponents while poring over video footage. She studies statistics and works at honing a “laser focus” during the broadcast.
And she strives to play well with others.
“Ultimately, you’re part of a team, so you need to be cohesive with them and know each other’s strengths and style,” she said. “I’m still learning my style, but it’s all about being cohesive and fluid with my partners just as I would be with a linemate on the ice.”
There’s one other similarity between playing and broadcasting: Coyne Schofield gets nervous before each game and isn’t afraid to admit it.
“I was nervous going into the gold medal game at the Olympics,” she said, recalling Team USA’s electrifying win over Canada in PyeongChang. “For me, nerves are a good thing because it shows that you care. But you have to be elite enough to control them. I haven’t gotten to the point yet where I want to be in broadcasting, but I figured it out as a player and I think that with more experience, those nerves will start to fade in a really positive way.”