The National Women’s Hockey League is now the Premier Hockey Federation (PHF). The six-team women’s pro hockey league was rebranded in September and its 20-game, 19-week schedule began Nov. 6.
“I think it’s a step in the right direction [and] has nothing to do with gender,” says Krysti Clarke on the new name. She is the Toronto Six general manager.
Clarke joined the Canadian club as its second-ever GM in team history. She also is the league’s first and only Black general manager. Her duties include overseeing the club’s efforts in strategic business planning and decision-making, game-day event management, player activities, team operations and logistics, among other responsibilities.
Her background is in soccer, which Clarke played in college at Miami (Ohio) University. She has an MBA from McKendree (Ill.) University and sports industry experience working in the front office of York United, a Canadian pro soccer team.
“Digit [Murphy, Toronto Six president] reached out to me,” recalled Clarke. “She did her research [on me]. We just kept in contact with each other, and she reached out to me when the [GM] position became available and asked if I would be interested.
“My background is operations,” she continued. “I want us to win the [Isobel] Cup,” the PHF championship trophy. “I want to make sure that the players know everything’s taken care of for them. They just need to worry about producing on ice.”
Clarke is proud of her place in PHF history: Along with her as GM, Toronto also has two Black players. Assistant Coach Angela James, who is widely considered Canada’s greatest female hockey player, also is a Black female.
“I want to be in this position not only as a Black person but as a woman, because I wanted to make sure that people see that it’s possible and know that it’s possible, and that we can start opening up more doors to make sure that it’s not just me,” she said.
“The demographics that we serve in Toronto is quite diverse, and we want to be as aggressive as possible,” noted Clarke on the importance of diversity in hockey, on the ice as well as in the stands. “It’s about making it more accessible for everybody, but also making sure that all people are able to experience it or be a part of it.”
“We’re getting people that aren’t just hockey fans,” she continued, “because if we can get people to come together around the team and not just hockey, I also want to serve the community, so I want to support local Black business. I want to have vendors where the owners or co-owners are Black [and interact] with our fans.
“My whole thing is representation,” declared Clarke. “I want to make sure that it opens up doors for others.”
Six sistahs signed
Six prep sistahs were among last week’s official signings with the University of Minnesota Nov. 10: Breezy Burnett, Jacksonville, Fl. (softball); Carson Booth, Denver (volleyball); Amaya Battle, Hopkins H.S. and Nia Holloway, Eden Prairie (both basketball); Amelia Brown, Cary, NC (soccer) and Seria Johnson, Buford, GA. (gymnastics).
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.