For a generation of young female hockey players, the biggest influence on their career is Kim McCullough. Having coached thousands of girls, she might possibly be the premier coach/mentor in the growing game.
Of note, her sterling reputation even brought her into contact with the Czech Republic national women’s team. Serving as a consultant, it certainly was a key factor in the improving nation earning the opportunity to compete at the IIHF Women’s Worlds for the first time in 2013.
A former competitor with the Dartmouth Big Green, her storied career was sidelined by concussion woes. Despite the setback, McCullough used it as an opportunity to share her story rather than engage in self-pity. This sort of occupational recovery provided inspiration and support for a whole group of players that were suffering from similar problems.
Eventually, it would lead her towards a new role as a builder in women’s hockey. As a co-founder of CWHL, it would serve as the launching pad to provide women with an opportunity to compete at a high level of play.
As the Girls Hockey Director for the PEAC School for Elite Athletes in Toronto, she also takes her students on annual road trips to various college campuses in the United States. From watching practices, taking campus tours and having the opportunity to speak to coaches, McCullough helps to introduce them to a larger world.
Pulling double duty as the president of Total Female Hockey, McCullough is devoted to seeing young women succeed at making their hockey dreams come true. Her greatest legacy may be the Total Female Hockey Scholarship Project. A project that took several years in the making, she provides details on all 113 programs in postsecondary hockey throughout North America, including comparisons, a breakdown of every program and the different options available on both sides of the border.
Providing the comprehension that the road to a scholarship includes the player needing to be proactive also, she provides advice on an introductory e-mail, the importance of videos, academic rules and effective communication.
In addition, a 30 minute phone call with McCullough herself provides the hopeful collegiate hockey player to gain her wisdom and obtain any other critical advice. As the first to go to the assiduous effort of providing such in-depth information, it is a learning tool that can make the difference between getting the scholarship that players are aspiring for.
Having devoted her coaching career to ensuring the next generation of players are more than just fundamentally sound athletes but remarkable people, she has had the opportunity to coach at the national level. With a stint in autumn 2012 as an assistant coach on the prestigious Team Ontario Red program representing the OWHA, it was an opportunity to showcase her strong coaching skills at the national level.
The following year, she would be the coach of Team Ontario Blue with budding stars such as Kirsten Miller, Josiane Pozzebon, Shea Tiley and Kirsten Welsh. Ironically, she would play Team Ontario Red in the gold medal game of the 2013 Canadian Under-18 Nationals. Adding to the irony was the fact that Team Ontario Red’s head coach Bradi Cochrane coached Ontario Blue in 2012.
One of the most likeable aspects of McCullough’s remarkable impact is her heartwarming yet inspiring contributions online. Ending every one of her posts with Work Hard, Dream Big, Your Friend and Coach adds a very human touch to her messages of encouragement. The beauty of her works is the ability to simplify things yet provide meaningful advice.
Whether it be Four Essential Hockey Habits (1: Always Know Where the Puck Is, 2: Stick on the Ice, 3: Giving a Good Target, 4: Talk) or the Five Deal Breakers for Scouts (1: Does Not Stop on Pucks, 2: Disappears as Game Goes On, 3: No Second Effort, 4: Lazy Changes, 5: Bad Body Language), it serves as fundamental reading for any player. Such advice helps to make McCullough’s encyclopedic knowledge of the game accessible to even the most remote of players.
Covering a range of interesting topics online, one of the most riveting was the Confidence Hat Trick. An endearing yet eye opening insight into the developing stages of a player’s game, the subject concerns a preteen player who had never scored a goal. A few days later, this player would do more than just score her first goal, but log another two for a hat trick. Despite the accomplishment, she was down on herself because she accidentally passed to the other team and they capitalized with a power play tally. McCullough refers to this as players downplaying their accomplishments and needing to develop the confidence in order to take risk and be able to face the possibility of receiving judgment.
Ivy League educated, McCullough is more than just a mentor and an educator, but a strong woman and a positive role model for the next generation who choose to embark upon the frozen perimeter of rinks throughout. Having built a strong career in devotion to helping the next generation of girls succeed at hockey, it is one that will hopefully culminate with the Order of Hockey in Canada.