If you haven’t heard, the USA Women’s Hockey Team chose to sit out of the 2017 World Championship due to delayed contract negotiations. Their strike acquired the attention of many, earning the support of all-stars Mia Hamm, Abby Wambach, and Billie Jean King. U.S.A. Hockey finally gave in to their demands after negotiating for fourteen months, and watched the U.S. women’s national team take home the gold – for the second consecutive year. LFC has the unique opportunity to chat with Haley Skarupa, one of team USA’s forwards, about her experience representing her country and winning it all. Interview done by Cori Futrovsky.
LFC: First of all, congratulations on winning the World Championship title! What’s it like to represent your country and just overall kick ass?
Haley Skarupa: To answer your question, being able to represent my country is an unbelievable honor that I am so grateful to have. It is honestly hard to put the feeling into words. Every time I have the opportunity to put on the USA jersey, it just gives me the chills. To think about being a part of something so much bigger than myself... it is simply unreal. My teammates and I just cherish this entire journey and it has truly been an amazing ride so far.
LFC: I can't imagine what that's like. It must be an incredible feeling - especially after fighting for equitable compensation and winning. How amazing did it feel to end those contract negotiations, after the league threatened to send replacement players, and go on to win it all?
HS: Our whole team knew that once we all came to an agreement with the negotiations, we were going to be unstoppable on the ice. After everything we had been through, we became so much stronger as a team and, as a result, we made history... twice.
LFC: You ladies definitely proved yourselves and I think the league had to have learned their lesson. Obviously, there is a bit of a stigma behind women’s sports. Does that bother you? You’re an incredible player and superior to a handful of the men playing, so how does it make you feel when you aren’t getting the recognition you so clearly deserve?
HS: People do sometimes consider hockey a "men's" sport and feel as though women's hockey isn't as fun to watch. Those people just clearly haven't watched a US vs Canada women's game. The pace is unbelievably fast and sometimes it's hard to tell if checking is disallowed or not with how physical it is. The stigma has never really bothered me, because I just love proving them wrong.
LFC: After the past two years, I think it's evident you have proved them wrong. La Femme Collective is all about building women up, supporting them, and giving credit where credit is due. Who inspires you?
HS: My mom inspires me. She always has. We are so different, yet are best friends and always bring out the best in each other. She was never an athlete, or even a sports fan really, however somehow she has become my biggest supporter throughout my entire hockey career. She left her comfort zone a long time ago just to be there for me and nothing brings me more happiness than to make her proud. After we won the World Championship this year, our family and friends came onto the ice to celebrate with us. She had on a red, white, and blue sweatshirt with a giant USA logo across it, also wearing a light up patriotic necklace. I remember her saying to me "I was never a hockey person. And look at me now... I'm wearing spirit wear!"
LFC: That’s really special – to have someone support you unconditionally and inspire you as well. Has she given you any advice that has stuck with you throughout your hockey career?
HS: She has always just given me such a unique and special perspective on the entire experience. It can be so easy to get caught up in the little things, with the competitiveness and intensity with the sport, so my mom is the perfect balance. She will say things either so unrelated, funny, or genuinely meaningful that kind of brings me back to earth. She pretty much is a constant reminder of how not to take anything too seriously. Have fun. And enjoy it, because not everyone is nearly as lucky as I am to have this lifestyle and opportunity.
LFC: That's some all-around sound advice. Tell us about an important milestone in your career that you would like to share with readers.
HS: An important milestone in my career is when I committed to play hockey at Boston College. The college and recruiting process was an experience I'll never forget. It was a little overwhelming at times, but I was very fortunate to be able to research and visit so many unbelievable schools. Narrowing it down to only a few was very tough, but ultimately choosing BC was a milestone that has led me to the player and person I am today. I had such an amazing time at Boston College, learned so much from my coaches (and professors lol) and will be friends with my teammates from my four years there forever.
LFC: Finally, LFC uses the term “entrefemmeur” to highlight the women who have taken measurable steps to protect their rights both in and out of the workplace. What does being an entrefemmeur mean to you?
HS: Being an entrefemmeur means aspiring to do what you love regardless of who you are. Growing up I was frequently the only girl on my hockey team and I honestly thought absolutely nothing of it, because I just loved playing hockey and I didn't care who was playing. Being able to help pave the way for other young girls who want to play hockey has been so special for my teammates and I. We were willing to risk everything to make a difference in the long run and I think that shows how powerful being an entrefemmuer truly is.