The mission statement for the Daily Planet coffee shop, Corinne Buie’s place of work when not wearing the Buffalo Beauts crest, is, “Make people happy, make good friends, make good coffee and do something nice for the planet.” Looking back at a successful first season with the Beauts, it’s interesting to see how much of that Buie’s taken to heart.
A spacious nook on the corner of Hertel and Parker avenues in North Buffalo, the place where she works her day job serves not only as a place to get caffeinated drinks and quick eats, but as a hub for the community to share art, music, and culture. A board next to the register announces upcoming live shows; hooks hang on nearly every wall for art installations; and a wide farmhouse-style table is available, with a shelf nearby stacked with plenty of board games for communal enjoyment.
Buie began working here in order to supplement her NWHL income. North Buffalo was more of a choice made for her than her first pick of places to live in the area, as she and teammates had parents come and check it out first. However, the more she integrates with the scene, the more she finds it’s just like home, which is why she’s decided to stay at least one more season.
“I really enjoyed it [last year], and there’s no doubt in my mind that I wanted to come back here and do it again, especially coming off of a championship,” she said of re-signing with the Beauts last weekend.
Before Buffalo, Buie was a depth player on a Boston team with limitless talent. The former CWHL-Blades-turned-NWHL-Pride won two consecutive championships, one in their final season as members of a CWHL roster, and one in the fledgling NWHL’s first season.
“There are so many National Team girls [there] who are, like, the most competitive people I’ve ever met,” she said. “They’re just professionals in every aspect, and they’ve been winners their whole careers. Being able to be on their team was awesome, and I learned a lot from watching them compete.”
Even valuable experiences like that get tough, however, and Buie was left wanting a bigger role than what Boston provided. Buffalo gave that to her in spades. In the Beauts’ top six, alongside other bigger forwards like Kelly Steadman, Shiann Darkangelo, and Emily Janiga, Buie produced 12 points in 17 games and became a key specialty teams player (5 PPG, 2 PPA). She also became part of the core group during twice-weekly practices, and her three-day-a-week schedule at the coffee shop allowed her to train to her full potential. Plus, her living situation here (living with defender and fellow Minnesotan Jordyn Burns) made it easy to transition into playing with a new team.
“In Boston, I lived with my sister, which was amazing, but I lived farther [away] from teammates,” she said. “I didn’t get to train with teammates either, so it’s nice to be able to train at Harborcenter, and to play and practice there made a big difference.”
Not only did she find comfort within the roster, but she also found an affinity for the neighborhood and the city of Buffalo itself. North Buffalo borders the topmost corner of Delaware Park and is dotted with older houses, small bars, bookstores, and boutiques, giving it a trendy yet comfortable small-city essence that reminded Buie of her hometown of Edina, Minnesota.
“It’s more of a suburban feel, and I like that more relaxed feel… it’s more like my area where I lived,” she said. “They’re both sports crazy. Hockey’s thriving here, women’s hockey is really growing, and that’s what it was like in Minnesota.”
After their Isobel Cup win, she said she and the team started to get more recognized at the Daily Planet as well, recounting a funny moment where she wore the championship hat to work.
“People were like, ‘Oh, did you hear that they won?’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah! I’m on the team!’” she laughed. “There are certain customers who know, but not everyone. It’s really cool when people do know or do recognize me. I try to give us a shout-out every now and then.”
All of this combined made Buffalo the perfect place for Buie to continue her professional playing career. According to the NWHL press release announcing her re-signing with the Beauts for the 2017-18 season, the city was her first and only pick to keep playing for as long as the league lasts. League sustainability, of course, is one of the main concerns heading into October, but Buie is keeping a positive outlook nonetheless.
“Obviously, it’s hard to go from the first season where we were so fortunate to get what we had, and then last year it was obviously disappointing to have what we had happen,” she said. “But I’m just trying to look at it from the perspective of, we’re so lucky to be getting paid at all, more than everybody who came before us had.
“There’s gonna be ups and downs like you saw last season, like other women’s pro leagues that have come around before us… I’m just looking for more transparency. I think everyone would appreciate that.”
That transparency will start once free agency is over, with all terms disclosed prior to the start of play. The 2017-18 season begins in October.