Helsinki (AFP) – When the question comes about her leading role in the men’s ice hockey world, Jessica Campbell laughs briefly. “It’s great to pave the way for others,” replied the German team’s assistant and first coach at the Men’s World Cup in Helsinki.
But this is not the most important thing for her. “Everyone, no matter who you are, where you are from, what your gender is — if you are good at what you do, you should be able to be successful and be given the opportunity to do so,” she says.
National ice hockey coach Tony Soderholm gave her this opportunity and made a historic decision. As an assistant coach, the only 29-year-old Canadian is part of the German Ice Hockey Federation team at the World Championships in Finland. On Thursday, when the fourth 2021 World Cup against Denmark wants to take a potentially decisive step to reach the quarter-finals (3:20pm / Sport1 and MagentaSport), she will be behind the gang once again as before.
The first female coach in the history of the World Cup
In men’s ice hockey, where feelings often deteriorate and turn into a fight on the ice, women are the absolute exception. The World Federation wrote that Campbell is the first female coach in the history of the Men’s World Cup. Conversely, interest in the former Canadian international and World Cup silver winner is high.
In a lightly fitted tracksuit, Campbell answers questions after just giving advice to NHL star defender Moritz Ceder during training. Her earrings dangled, and her ponytail rested on her left shoulder. She says caring for her is “sexy,” but conveys self-confidence. “I don’t really see obstacles, I only see goals,” she says. “My goal as a coach has always been to train at the highest level. It’s not necessarily about men’s or women’s sports.” She knows she has a different, perhaps “unique” view of the game. She doesn’t know if this is the female perspective.
Cross the Nuremberg Ice Tigers to the national team
Her path to the national team and to the World Cup in Finland led to a short stint with the Nuremberg Ice Tigers, who was in contact with their sporting director Stefan Ostorf. Soderholm says he had six conversations with Campbell, before bringing her to his coaching staff in order to achieve as much success as possible at this World Cup and in hopes of making adjustments at the Olympics.
“It’s an ice hockey decision,” says Soderholm. “For me it doesn’t matter if it’s a man or a woman.” The 44-year-old prefers not to continue the discussion between women and men: “Don’t turn around on the plane if you notice that the captain is a woman.”
Campbell is responsible for the reduced play
Campbell knows that the opportunity to make her point will help her earn a spot in men’s hockey. She says she thinks a lot about how to convey her views. Söderholm emphasizes direct, clear communication as one of her strengths: “She has different keywords, when to use them, and how to use them. If you speak two or three sentences, you may speak one sentence.” “Refreshing,” said World Cup newcomer Alexander Ill.
Her different opinion of the game scenes is exactly what Söderholm wants and hopes for. Söderholm is so confident in Campbell that he put her in charge of the workforce game – a factor that often changes the rules of the game.
She follows in the footsteps of her predecessor Matt McElvan, says Captain Moritz Muller. Campbell was well received by the veteran (35) and others on the German squad around young NHL star Ceder (21). “You have to convince with professionalism,” Muller says. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a woman or a man. She walked in and immediately noticed she got it.”
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