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'I don't want to be the only': First female assistant coach in NHL hopes more doors open for women


Jessica Campbell is making history in the National Hockey League (NHL) by recently being hired as the first female full-time coach for the Seattle Kraken.

"Though I am honoured to be the first, I don't want to be the only. I honestly don't feel like I'm the only in this organization, that's also a very special feeling,” Campbell expressed.

Following her international hockey career, Campbell moved into an assistant coaching role last season for the Coachella Valley Firebirds under head coach Dan Bylsma.

When Bylsma was promoted to the new head coach for the Kraken, he took Campbell with him to the big leagues, opening a historic opportunity.

"The reason why I hired Jess into C.V. (Coachella Valley) was because of her experience,” Bylsma explained.

“Her proven ability to work with players and develop a game plan, to see what they can get better at, what they can improve on and do the work. We’re talking about NHL players and the demonstration over the last two years is no different."

Born in Rocanville, Sask., Campbell was surrounded by hockey through family and minor hockey associations, as well as provincial ones, through Hockey Saskatchewan.

“Their family has a passion for hockey. I think her mom played at the U of S, her sister played at the U of R, her dad was involved in our program in coaching, her brothers played junior hockey,” explained Kelly McClintock, general manager of Hockey Saskatchewan.

“That just shows when you have a family that’s passionate about something, you can achieve anything you want to if you put your mind to it.”

McClintock told CTV News that providing opportunities in the sport for females at an early age is the start to opening more doors for women at the professional level.

"We're the only province in the country that has a rule that says every female hockey team has to have a female coach of some kind whether its head coach or assistant coach," said McClintock.

"We've had that in place for four or five years and that really encouraged minor hockey associations to recruit young ladies. We have a number of mentored coaches that participate in our programming.”

Campbell will make her NHL debut on Oct. 8 at the Kraken’s home opener game against the St. Louis Blues.

"I think what's special and what I'm excited about here in Seattle is whether it's a young girl or young boy’s first NHL game, they're never going to see anything different than what they can possibly become,” Campbell expressed.

“I'm happy to be able to play that role and picture that for the young kids." Top Stories

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