It's eight hours before the Blackhawks face the defending Stanley Cup champs from St. Louis. Jeremy Colliton's team is on the ice at the United Center for its morning skate. In the stands, three women sit together watching the action, discussing what's happening, and taking notes. Come 6:30 p.m., they'll be involved in a broadcast that'll make history.
"It feels like an incredible honor to be here today," said Kate Scott.
For two decades, Scott has been calling the action in virtually every sport imaginable, but Sunday night, a first: play-by-play for an NHL game. And that's not the only first she was a part of. For the first time in United States history, the Hawks-Blues game featured an all female broadcast and production crew. AJ Mleczko (analyst) and suburban Chicago-native Kendall Coyne-Schofield ('Inside the Glass' analyst) joined Scott calling the game. Fittingly, it all happened on International Women's Day.
"This is a big deal," Scott said matter-of-factly. "And do we hope that it won’t be very soon? Yes. But I think that it’s so important to highlight the fact that there’s not just women on air, that there’s so many other opportunities for young women who want to get into sports broadcasting."
Coyne-Schofield is in her first season as an analyst for the San Jose Sharks. She's also a U.S. Olympic gold medalist in women's hockey. There isn't much she hasn't seen or been a part of in hockey, but being involved in a landmark broadcast means a lot.
"It’s extremely special, but when you look at the women who are producing and broadcasting this game tonight, they’re all professionals, they’re all very experienced. It’s really just the first time that everyone’s been together under one roof doing what they do on a regular basis," Coyne-Schofield said.
Mleczko works on New York Islanders broadcasts as an analyst. She too won a women's hockey gold medal for the U.S. at the Olympics. For her, being a part of the NBC Sports Network broadcast at the United Center meant another chance to show young girls they're capable of anything.
"Maybe there’s somebody at home, a young girl, or somebody in broadcasting school not sure what they want to do, and they see this," Mleczko said. "They understand that behind the scenes, they’re all women, and perhaps it plants a seed – a dream – for them. Maybe this is something they want to do, maybe they don’t, but they know it’s an opportunity and it’s available to them."
In addition to the entire on-air team being female, women played a key role behind the scenes of the broadcast as well. The game was produced by Rene Hatlelid and directed by Lisa Seltzer.
"I think it's extremely significant," Scott said. "I've been in this industry for 20 years. I cover every sport there is. Men's and women's soccer, college football, NFL, and this is the first broadcast where I'm going to have a female director and female producer. So this is a big deal."