The #ForTheGame movement took social media by storm. The more than 200 players dropped their joint statement, making a splash in women’s hockey news.
The Ice Garden talked to Liz Knox, former CWHL PA, to learn about the how the movement started and more.
How did this coordinated release came about?
It’s been a collection of efforts, I guess. My role obviously with the CWHLPA when the league folded was just keeping in constant communication. We had proposals come to us, and it was just a matter of ‘What do we want? What do we want out of this? Why are we here? Why are we all still in this conversation?’
And then, Hillary [Knight] and Kendall [Coyne Schofield] reached out to me saying, ‘Hey look, you’re the voice for those players. You know what what can we do here.’ They had this vision. I presented it to the players and there was zero hesitation.
Honestly it was like, this is why we’re here. This is our moment.
So it was Hilary and Kendall leading the charge in a way. Who else was involved in this process?
We want to ensure that we represented all the little groups of women’s hockey in North America right now. Shannon Szabados has been a big voice, but then also people that were away from the game for the last year, like Meghan Duggan.
So there’s actually 12 of us kind of identified as the speakers on this. But it’s really hard. Part of the difficulty in all this, is you only have a handful of voices speaking, but we represent so many different walks of life. So it was making sure that everybody was represented in the group that we had. And then, making sure that the information goes both ways, and that all of our players in the CW are educated on what’s happening, and that we’re educated on how they’re feeling, because we represent them.
Have you been working with the NWHL or their PA at all?
We had some great conversations with them. We wanted to make sure that we were well-educated on what the opportunity was there.
That was a conversation we were having before we came with this idea of taking a step back, but they were very, very helpful. They’re open and honest, and I have a ton of respect for Anya [Battaglino]. The amount of work she does for the NWHLPA, working with their lawyers and trying to make sure their players are taken care of...I have the utmost respect for her.
Any other thoughts?
I think the most powerful part of it all is that we do represent all these different walks of life. And I think the National Team girls will get a big spotlight on this, as they should, and they are the players that most of the generation will look to as role models.
But, I think it’s also important to note that our third- and fourth-liners have been working 9-to-5’s the last 12 years so that those girls had a place to play. This whole movement is as much theirs as it is the stars’. Because they’re making the ultimate sacrifice in this. At the end of the day, if we reach our goal, when we have a truly professional sustainable long-term option to play for a women’s hockey league, there will be a lot of us that don’t have jobs. And that’s a sacrifice that I was up front with our players about, saying, ‘listen guys, consider this, because it might mean that you never play professional hockey again.’ And as I said, the resounding answer was, let’s do it. This is what’s right.
It really sounds like you all are focusing on the future and being something bigger than what you are right now?
I commend you guys so much for doing this. I can’t imagine what kind of strength it took to be like, well this might be the end, but at least I’m going to go out my way.
Exactly. It’s an exciting time.
We’ve had conversations with [former tennis great] Billie Jean King and her team, and she’s kind of been our voice to say, ‘guys I know it’s hard and change is hard. But you are doing the right thing, and you’re on the right path to really leaving your mark on history.’ I think having her confidence has sometimes been that voice that’s just saying, ‘you’re doing the right thing, keep going.’
Do you see this all as reclaiming the narrative from the CWHL just closing without your voice?
That’s one thing that you know I can speak from the P.A. perspective. We had a couple of conversations with potential investors and people that want to create a league for this October. In all of our responses, we’ve learned that it is absolutely imperative to our success that the players have a seat at that table.
We’re going to wait however long it takes until we see the next option. And it’s going to mean that the only way it’s going to be sustainable and viable is if we are part of that decision.