While the legacy of the NWHL’s inaugural season was the opportunity to expand the profile of women’s ice hockey in the United States, subsequently introducing a new group of hockey heroes to a wider audience, this unprecedented experience involved a remarkable number of dedicated and assiduous individuals that contributed admirable efforts off the ice. Among them was Suzanne Friedman, who worked tirelessly as a Game Day Coordinator for the eventual Isobel Cup champion Boston Pride.
Raised in Framingham, Massachusetts, Friedman brings an endless fascination to the game, having been involved in multiple facets, including as a player. Like so many other individuals who have invested their time and love of the game into hockey, she was intrigued by the inception of the NWHL and her eagerness to contribute exemplified the league’s empowering spirit.
“I am very involved with women’s hockey, so in 2015, I heard through word of mouth that there would be an NWHL summer camp/showcase in Wilmington, MA. I printed my resume, wrote a cover letter explaining my interest in the league, and gave these documents to Dani Rylan. Dani connected me with Hayley and the rest is history.”
Currently engaged in Master’s Degree studies at Northeastern University, where Friedman also enjoys singing and songwriting, she graces the ice for the Huskies’ entry in American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) hockey. Of note, she has already assembled an impressive body of work in women’s hockey. Prior to the Pride, she served as an intern for USA Hockey in 2014 at Colorado Springs. Among her responsibilities, she was part of the support staff for the Girls Camps and Tournaments in St. Cloud, Lake Placid and Calgary, Canada.
In addition to Northeastern, Friedman also played at the ACHA level for the University of Vermont, where she was an undergrad. Not only did she serve as the team captain, she worked off the ice as its president, helping to plan and manage budgets, engage in marketing and any hiring, all strong displays of leadership skills.
With such credentials, Friedman proved to be the perfect fit for the Pride. Among her key responsibilities with the club, she helped promote the team via social media, helped organize game-day tasks for volunteers such as timekeeping and merchandise while ensuring that honesty and integrity were among her key values.
Friedman would also make her mark with many game-day promotions including the ever-popular Chuck-a-Puck. As her efforts helped contribute to the fan experience at Pride home games, it was among the most enjoyable elements in such a memorable season.
“I liked seeing everything come together on game days at Harvard. There were so many moving parts to worry about e.g., ticketing, merchandise, promotions, statistics, autographs, etc. Interacting with the fans and watching them enjoy the final product was special.”
With a love of sport, Friedman has also been part of other exceptional organizations such as the Tiger Woods Foundation and the four-time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. Taking into account that Gillette Stadium, the Patriots home field, was the venue for the inaugural Women’s Winter Classic, there was definitely a great feeling of personal pride.
Although the Classic became a life-changing event for all involved, as Denna Laing suffered an on-ice injury, there is no question that Laing also held a special place in Friedman’s heart. Among her most heartwarming moments during that first season with the Pride actually took place with Laing.
Before the inaugural puck drop, an on-ice testing session involved Friedman taking some photos. Laing would spray Friedman’s camera with snow, resulting in a unique image. For Friedman, it was more than just a humorous moment, but a fond memory of Laing that always makes her smile.
During the season, Friedman would also add an internship to Hockey East to her growing sports resume, subsequently extending her strong commitment to the women’s game. With focus towards the Skating Strides against Breast Cancer events, Friedman was also involved in press releases, calculating poll results and helping promote attendance.
Unmistakably, Friedman is an individual who embodies the meaning of team spirit. Flowing through multiple leagues and teams, absorbing all the intricacies of sport, Friedman is an exceptional asset to any group that she works with, affirming that the game has no shortage of strong women contributing towards its optimistic future. Balancing both duties with Hockey East and the Pride was an exceptional effort, which meant that an average work day was nothing short of a labor of love.
“I had a very busy year, as you may imagine. I finished grad school in December and I also work part time for the New England Patriots along with an internship at Hockey East. I am very organized and definitely a planner which helps with my time management. I worked hard outside of the 9-5 standard work day to balance all of my roles, but when you love what you do, work doesn’t feel like work.
I love working with elite athletes. It is honestly a dream come true. These women are so talented, hard working, and genuinely good people. I’ve played hockey since I was 10, so I have such an appreciation for the dedication that both professional and collegiate athletes display.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credits: Main image obtained from Facebook
Friedman at the Chuck-a-Puck promotion by Eric Converse.
Image of Laing spraying camera with ice by Suzanne Friedman.