With International Women’s Day being this week, I decided to highlight some talented women and the various roles they have in the sports industry, roles which are still very male-dominated.
CAROLINE OUELLETTE AND JULIE CHU
As a once young girl playing hockey in Canada, Julie Chu and Caroline Ouellette were both huge role models of mine and living in Montreal, the ability to have watched them play as teammates with the Canadiennes was inspiring. Having played against each other as rivals in international competition (Chu for USA Hockey and Ouellette for Team Canada), the pair are now the head and associate head coaches of the Concordia Stingers women’s hockey team (U Sports, RSEQ), where they have gone 11-3-1 this season.
Having played with the Stingers for seven games before continuing her university hockey career at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, it’s motivating for the players to learn and be taught by one of Hockey Canada’s greats who also played for Concordia, even for a short period of time.
In September 2021, Chu left the team in Ouellette’s hands as she went to Tampa Bay, Fl. to join the Tampa Bay Lightning as a special instructor for the team’s prospect camp. Many fans of the Montreal Canadiens are hoping they will be asked to join the team in the development of their prospects too.
Chu and Ouellette are set to continue their quest to win the RSEQ Championship, with the first game in the championship series taking place on March 10 against the McGill University Martlets.
In March 2021, the Pittsburgh Penguins announced that they had hired then 21-year old Katerina Wu as a Data Scientist in Hockey Operations, joining other members of hockey ops to further scouting and evaluation.
The University of North Carolina graduate is the first woman to be in such a role in the National Hockey League and joined the Penguins after doing a summer capstone project with the director of hockey operations and a senior data analyst who were both impressed with her skills.
Not only does Wu bring her knowledge and passion for sports to the table, but she is also inspiring younger girls of all backgrounds that they too can pursue a career in the sports and STEM industries if they are interested in sports, data and analysis.
Tanya Walter is the newly appointed defensive assistant coach for the BC Lions of the CFL, becoming the first woman to have a full-time coaching position in the league. Under Head Coach Rick Campbell, Walter will be putting her football experience and knowledge to the test
Walter’s CV is packed with football-related experience, having played in the Western Women’s Canadian Football League, represented Team Alberta and Team Canada, and coached at St Francois Xavier High School.
With the BC Lions coming off a 5-9 season, the team is making quite a few moves this offseason in the hopes of solidifying its defence. Having recently signed both Ivan McLennan and Mathieu Betts, Walter and the rest of the coaching staff are acquiring new pieces in hopes of a successful 2022 season.
There are so many incredible women that are now working in the sports industry, and it’s a shame that I could not showcase them all. As a young woman hoping to pursue a career in the industry, it’s inspiring to see more and more women lead roles that were once only done by males.
While today is a day that we should highlight the incredible things many pioneers in this industry and in the world have done, I think it’s also a day that we should use to reflect on how much work there still needs to be done for women across the world and in all aspects of life.
I am hoping that in the next few years, I will never have to hear the words “sorry, but they don’t hire women to do that in the NHL” or be questioned about my knowledge and skills because I am a woman working in sports. It’s time that the most skilled and talented get the job regardless of the gender they identify as.