Catching Up with CWHL Co-Founder and Hockey Builder Kim McCullough

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Catching Up with CWHL Co-Founder and Hockey Builder Kim McCullough
McCullough (right) coaching with Team Ontario Red, Image obtained from Twitter @tfhockey

In the world of hockey, Kim McCullough stands out as a renaissance woman. Highly educated with a diverse background in the game, she has contributed to the game as a player, a coach, an educator and a trainer.

Of note, she has worked with over 5,000 players, 1,000 coaches and 100 teams. As a player, the Toronto-born McCullough competed with the Dartmouth Big Green at the NCAA level.

From 2000 to 2002, she accumulated 71 points (on 36 goals and 35 assists) in 64 games played, and was also named a co-captain. She claimed a silver medal with the NWHL’s Brampton Thunder at the 2003 Esso Women’s Nationals, and also had stints with the Calgary Oval X-Treme and the Oakville Ice.

A co-founder of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, it stands as one of her greatest legacies in the game.

“Being one of the co-founders of the CWHL is a great honor.  I can still remember our small little group of players sitting around the table trying to figure out how to make it all work."

"We were very fortunate to have some great business and hockey advisers in those early days that helped steer us in the right direction.  Ultimately, I believe it was all of our passion for the game that allowed it to get off the ground and grow into what it has become today.”

While she played in the CWHL, McCullough earned a Master’s Degree in Kinesiology from York University.

In addition, McCullough has also taken on the role of entrepreneur, as she is also the founder of Total Female Hockey. “Total Female Hockey is a company I started four years ago to help give players, coaches and parents access to the information, instruction and inspiration they need to get to the next level in the female game." 

"Back when I was a young player who made the decision that I wanted to play at the highest level possible, I had no access to information that was specific to my needs as a young female hockey player.  All the on-ice and off-ice information out there at the time was geared only to the male side of the game.” 

Her motivation to start the enterprise came at the twilight of her playing career. “When I retired from the CWHL, I made the decision to make empowering the female hockey community to reach the highest level of success possible would become my full-time job." 

"It has been an amazing journey—we started out with a single off-ice training program that we sold on-line and it has transformed into a full-service company that delivers on-ice instruction, off-ice training, nutrition & mental performance information, and scholarship guidance.  I'm very fortunate to do what I love every day.  It's absolutely amazing to work with players, coaches and parents who share the same passion for the game.”

As one of the great 21st Century builders of women’s hockey, McCullough has also worked with the Czech Republic women’s ice hockey team. “Working with the Czech Women's National Team was an amazing experience. In the short time that I was involved, I had the opportunity to travel to Prague and work directly with the top 30 players in their country. 

"It was very eye-opening to say the least.  It gave me a new appreciation for all the advantages we have living in 'hockey crazed' Canada.  The women in the national program over there are truly remarkable." 

"They are fantastic athletes and players who simply do not have the same access to resources and opportunities that we do over in North America.  I wish them the best of luck in the future!”

As the head coach and Girls Hockey Director with the PEAC School for Elite Athletes, her training program includes developing the player’s athletic ability, skill and self-esteem.

Recently, she had the opportunity (along with her team) to grace the ice of one of hockey’s greatest arenas; Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. Recently, the Ryerson Rams university team started playing at the newly renovated shrine of hockey.

“Being on the ice at the former Maple Leaf Gardens was a fantastic experience for the entire PEAC Girls Hockey Program. I remember playing on that ice back when I was in middle school at the city hockey championships—although I'm pretty sure I only got one shift!  One of our former PEAC players plays for Ryerson, so it was great for our current student-athletes to get a first-hand experience of skating with a CIS team while being reunited with one of their teammates."

"The facility is absolutely remarkable and Lisa, the head coach of Ryerson, did a fantastic job with the girls on and off the ice.  I only wish that the new rink existed when I was a kid—since I grew up less than 10 minutes away from there!”

With her reputation as a sterling coach growing, McCullough had a remarkable opportunity to serve on Dave Gwyn’s coaching staff for Team Ontario Red at the 2012 U18 Nationals.

This adds to an impressive coaching resume that has seen her coach Markham in the PWHL, along with appearances at the 2010 and 2012 Ontario Winter Games.

Rounding out the Team Ontario Red staff was Shaun Reagan of the Waterloo Warriors women’s program. Team Ontario Red would go on to claim a bronze medal, while gold went to Team Ontario Blue.

“Coaching Team Ontario Red was an absolute honor and privilege.  Everything from working with the best players in the province, to traveling out to Dawson Creek, to experiencing the event itself was fantastic." 

"It is the staff and the players that make the event what it is—and I hope that I get the chance to do it again.  For me personally, the coolest part about the event was that many of the players I was coaching at championships were kids that I met and worked with four years ago when I first started Total Female Hockey."

"It's amazing how things come full circle.  Also, my father (who is the ultimate women's hockey fan!) came out to watch.  An event like that is always made that much more special when you can share it with your loved ones.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

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