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USA Hockey Volunteers Tackle Challenge of Building Generations of Female Coaches

By Lela Moore, 07/07/23, 3:15PM MDT


Kris Wing and Kim Gallagher have a vastly different hockey background but a common goal for the game going forward

Kristine Wing and Kim Gallagher are of different generations. 

Their relationships to the sport of ice hockey are completely different, but they have found a mutual passion in developing women into hockey coaches, to help further lead the sport into the future. 

Wing, who goes by Kris, grew up in Maine playing and coaching many sports, though ice hockey wasn’t one of them. She had two children and worked frequently as a volunteer coach for their youth teams.

In 1986 she got her start in coaching hockey and took on a variety of roles within her local association, working as a registrar and as the treasurer. Two years later, she began working in USA Hockey’s Coaching Education Program. Last March, she was named the coach-in-chief of female development at USA Hockey. 

Wing said her role is to help women develop as coaches, and to continue the overall growth in the number of female hockey coaches. 

“To give them support, network with them,” she said. “To develop a really good system across our country.”

Gallagher took a much different path to coaching.

The 34-year-old grew up on the ice in Michigan and went on to play professionally in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. After her pro career, she fell in love with coaching. Her coaching journey led her to educating players from all age groups, from youth hockey all the way up to the NCAA Division I level at Michigan State.

Gallagher is now the USA Hockey associate coach-in-chief for female development in the state of Michigan, and is a USA Hockey coach developer. She works with girls as young as 12, trying to help them grow into student coaches and leading them through the ranks.  

“We’re part of a program that coaches coaches on how to coach,” she said. 

She notes that one of her mentors is Brad Johnson, who is the associate coach-in-chief for goaltending with the Michigan Amateur Hockey Association. She also praised Wing’s mentorship. 

“I just fell in love, like Kris said, [with] the camaraderie, the supporting people, and this whole female development program,” Gallagher said. “Working with Kris and having Kris at the helm of everything we’re doing and leading our ship has just been phenomenal.”

Gallagher said that listening to Wing talk about teaching and coaching as Title IX became law in the early 1970s had a powerful impact on her and other younger coaches. 

“When you sit down and have a 10-minute conversation with Kris Wing, you’re suddenly revitalized. They’ve been fighting the fight for so long. We can keep going.” 

Wing hopes the work she and Gallagher are doing now in continuing the growth of women in coaching will pay off in the long run. 

“As these young girls are growing up, as (Gallagher) grew up in hockey, saying, oh, I didn’t think about coaching, but I love this sport and I want to give back — hopefully, that will be there,” Wing said.

She also acknowledges the importance of having someone for the next generation of coaches to look up to.

“The more we see our role models, and those glass ceilings being broken at the national level, at the Olympic level, I think maybe eyes will change at the local level,” Wing said. 

Wing pointed to Gallagher as someone doing just that, moving from playing professionally to coaching at a high level.  

Gallagher said she recruits girls as young as 12 to her coaching development program, working with learn-to-play programs. Between 13 and 17, girls can go behind a bench if they are supervised by a certified coach. From there, they can become trained and certified themselves. 

The impact they’ve had is evident in all walks of life, enabling the girls who are a part of the program to “be more confident, on and off the ice” according to Gallagher. 

Citing Gallagher again as an example of her coaching philosophy, Wing said, “If you see it, you can be it.” 

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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