“I hope we come to some sort of reasonable conclusion that gets everybody on the ice and happy, but unfortunately right now, it doesn’t look that way.” - Hilary Knight
USWNT negotiations continue to fall short
In an interview with The Ice Garden, Hilary Knight gave the latest update on the USWNT boycott and negotiations with USA Hockey.
“We were in negotiations with [USA Hockey] for 14 or so months...and everything kind of stalled, so we were able to come public with everything that has been going on for seventeen plus years, plus the last months of trying to make change.”
By going public with their fight for equality, the National Team was able to push USA Hockey into an in-person meeting in Philadelphia this past Monday. After eleven hours, the women felt like they had made significant progress.
“We were extremely happy with sort of the outcome because we thought we had a really productive day with a lot of productive discussions and reasonable terms,” reiterated Knight.
However, the negotiations turned sour yesterday, as USA Hockey began looking for replacement players for the World Championships. Knight and the other players were disappointed in USA Hockey’s counterproposal.
“It didn’t meet the terms we originally had put forth on Monday, and significant progress was not made. Not a great showing for equitable support,” quipped Knight. “Now, we are not going to the World Championships - we are not going as long as what they put forth stands. .... The numbers are laughable in terms of what we were asking, what we came to, and what we’re now asking.”
For the younger generations of Team USA
Knight emphasizes that the main goal of this boycott is on the long-term. Her and her teammates are sacrificing their here-and-now to change the future.
“Whether it’s our first world championship or our ninth world championship, we’re willing to put it on the line for generations to come. We benefit a little bit, but this is really about setting a foot forward and setting a great foundation for the next, younger wave of players.”
The impact of their boycott is a part of their daily lives now. Knight talked about parents of young girls and boys stopping her in the gym to show their gratitude:“This is amazing what you’re doing for the next generation.”
This vision is why the support for the boycott remains unwavering every time the National Team players reach out to the other players.
“There’s been seven of us doing a hotline, reaching out to college coaches and younger players and our NWHL teammates and former teammates who had gotten cut. Everyone’s really understanding, standing behind us.”
To those following along with the USWNT boycott
The story of the USWNT’s fight for equality is spreading across various news outlets. From front pages of newspapers to airtime on NPR, the players are gaining more and more coverage. A large part of their success is with their social media campaigns.
“The whole premise of what we did today is that it’s the face of the US Women’s National Team. We’re always clad in our equipment and jerseys, and we really want to give people a perspective of the faces of everybody, the voices of everyone. Collectively, we’re unified in this together,” explained Knight.
On her own sign, “BOLD” in red letters, Knight elaborated, “Bold to me is standing up for what’s right. It’s being daring and courageous.”
She’s not the only one being daring and courageous. Not only have the USWNT players been posting on social, but as of Friday afternoon, NWHL and college players have been sharing a joint post of their own that states their allegiance to the US national team in refusing to join the replacement USA team.
As they continue being bold and strong and fearless and resilient on a national stage, the players have not forgotten their fans. Knight’s message is simple but genuine.
“Thank you for the continued support,” she said. “This affects [the fans] just as much as it affects us. My heart breaks a little bit knowing that we potentially won’t be [at Worlds], and they won’t be able to cheer us on and see how amazing, talented, and skilled of a team we are. In that way, it really breaks my heart, but to have their support is tremendous.”