The COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenging times of varying degrees for everyone across the country over the last five months and the need for community is more important today than ever. That’s why Olympic gold-medalist and U.S. Women’s National Team captain, Kendall Coyne Schofield, and her husband, Carolina Panthers offensive guard, Michael Schofield, decided to find ways to give back.
From donating their time, as well as 60,000 meals to the Greater Chicago Food Depository, to volunteering at their local food back, the Schofields are determined to help as many people as possible.
It was while volunteering at the Orland Park food pantry that Coyne Schofield noticed something familiar and realized she had another opportunity to help a community in need.
“A family came by for a pick-up. I opened the trunk to put in the food in the car and I saw a hockey jersey. I said, ‘Oh, a hockey player!’ A mom responded with tears saying she used to have a hockey player,” shared Coyne Schofield. “That moment stuck with me so distinctly that it hurt. I immediately wanted to help.”
With the economic impacts from the pandemic and knowing the expenses that come with the game, Coyne Schofield recognized there are kids who will have to stop playing hockey because their family can no longer afford it. She wanted to find a way to help offset some of these costs and decided to start with where the game begins—a USA Hockey membership.
Coyne Schofield decided to donate $2,500 to the USA Hockey Foundation Membership Relief Fund. This fundraiser specifically helps cover the costs of a membership for youth players that are unlikely to return to the game this upcoming season due to financial impacts from the pandemic. Coyne Schofield’s donation will ultimately cover the membership of 54 kids in need. Since the money she donated was originally given to the USA Hockey Foundation from the NHL in Coyne Schofield’s name for her to determine where it is allocated, it will be dedicated to the memberships of girls.
“The game of hockey teaches a kid so much more than X’s and O’s and wins and losses. It teaches many life lessons,” said Coyne Schofield. “It’s about teamwork, dedication, commitment and perseverance.”
Saying Coyne Schofield understands the joys of hockey is an understatement. She started skating at age three and although she never would have imagined it when putting on her first pair of skates, the game has taken her around the world. As a member of Team USA, she’s won two Olympic medals, six International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championships and six Four Nations Cup titles. Despite all of the hardware, championship results haven’t even been the best part of her hockey experience.
“As a kid, I always loved going to the rink and being able to see my friends. Hockey allows for you to meet your lifelong friends. It’s brought me my best friends,” added Coyne Schofield. “So, to think that there’s a lot of kids that potentially might not be able to return to their community and to a setting that instills so many values in their life, it was important to try and help them come back to the rink.”
A donation to the Membership Relief Fund isn’t just about getting kids to play for the upcoming season. This effort is about helping kids stay in the game forever and allow their love for the sport to grow.
“In five years, I hope to see a more diverse group of people playing hockey and I hope the game continues to be introduced to communities that have never seen hockey before,” said Coyne Schofield. “As the numbers of the sport grow it shows how many more people are loving the game. Once you get in the game, you want to stay in the game forever.”