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Archive for February 4, 2021

BULLETIN: Feb. 4, 2021 — A COVID-19 bubble, burst

Late yesterday, it was announced that the National Women’s Hockey League’s tournament for the Isobel Cup, a competition which was supposed to have been broadcast on national cable, has been scrapped because of an increasing number of COVID-19 tests inside the Lake Placid bubble.

The NWHL, which has been in operation in its present form since the mid-2010s, was set for an auspicious debut this evening with games on the NBC Sports Network, with not only women as the prime attraction on the ice, but with women on the broadcast and behind the camera.

This Coronavirus setback hits a little close to home, since one of the teams whose season has been ended is one owned by one of my college classmates, Johanna Boynton. The team, the Toronto Six, was tabbed to be a prime contender for Isobel Cup honors because of the coaching of Digit Murphy, the woman who not only has been a great coach in the professional women’s ranks, but the founder of the first North American professional women’s lacrosse league, United Women’s Lacrosse.

The regrettable thing is that this cancellation has no conceivable road back when it comes to television exposure. If the NWHL doesn’t reorganize its Isobel Cup bubble in the next few months, there won’t be an NBC Sports Network to take on broadcasting the games, since the network is schedule to shut down later in the year.

I have my own opinions on that, which I’ll try to unpack tomorrow.

Feb. 4, 2021 — A trailblazing umpire’s whistle falls silent

Mary Jane Zimmerman died last week. A Hall of Fame athlete from East Stroudsburg University, a former goalkeeper within the U.S. women’s national field hockey team system, and the former head coach of Lebanon Cornwall (Pa.), she served the American field hockey system for decades.

But perhaps her longest-lasting contribution was as an internationally-rated umpire. According to the text of her obituary, she was one of the first 35 game officials to receive an international ranking within the International Federation of Women’s Hockey Associations.

As such, her work as an international official represented progress for world field hockey.

You see, when the game of field hockey came to our shores, there wasn’t a ready-made pool of field hockey game officials. Think about that for a moment: what kind of people could you find and train up in the intricacies of arcane field hockey rules if you were trying to organize a game in the early 1900s?

Zimmerman would later marry and have a family, one which extended to three generations by the time of her passing last week. She leaves a long legacy, one which should be celebrated.