Opponents on the ice, athlete-mothers Coyne Schofield and Spooner share common bond

Kendall Coyne Schofield and Natalie Spooner may be PWHL opponents, but both players share a bond through the dual identity of an athlete-mother.

Opponents on the ice, athlete-mothers Coyne Schofield and Spooner share common bond

Feature Photo: Getty Images & @natspooner5

While making their mark on the ice, Natalie Spooner and Kendall Coyne Schofield are also mastering the art of motherhood.

Spooner with Toronto and Coyne Schofield with Minnesota, the PWHL stars and current postseason rivals, have been busier than ever these days with dividing their time between duties at the rink and caring for their young children who have been along for the ride every step of the way.

The pair’s off-ice efforts helped a result of fair working conditions for the professional hockey players that have fueled a wildly entertaining and successful inaugural PWHL season. The Olympic gold medallists can take great pride in the situation they worked tirelessly to be in and the example they set for girls and women alike.

“It is important to me that moms feel empowered to be able to have a career while being a mom and know they can be amazing at both at the same time,” said Coyne Schofield, who was named captain of PWHL Minnesota just six months after giving birth to her first child, a son named Drew.   

“I think becoming a mom has made me a better person and player.”

Coyne Schofield is keenly aware that some doubters thought that having a child meant the end of her on-ice career. It’s a sentiment Coyne Schofield spoke to in a recent sit-down with Spooner and Cassie Campbell-Pascall.

Coyne Schofield, who in 2019 became the first woman to compete in an NHL All-Star Skills Competition, recording a time of 14.3 seconds in the fastest skater challenge, has not missed a beat in her hockey career since becoming a mom.

Her 16 points in 24 regular season games were both second-best marks on the team, behind Grace Zumwinkle.

Spooner has been just as impactful for PWHL Toronto.

Her 20 goals and 27 points led all PWHL skaters in the regular season. She also had the most multi-goal games with six, and led the league with 101 shots.

The 33-year-old also had her first child, a son named Rory, in December 2022.

Last April, four months after welcoming Rory into the world, Spooner scored the first goal for Canada at the IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championship.

The moment received widespread coverage in the news and on social media.

“I knew when I wanted to start a family, I wasn’t done playing hockey and I set the goal to come back,” said Spooner, who was selected 23rd overall by Toronto in the first-ever PWHL Draft last September.

“It took a lot of hard work and learning along the way, but I love that I can continue playing while having Rory around to watch.”

Coyne Schofield, who, like Spooner, was one of the many driving forces behind the establishment of the PWHL, has relished her return to the game.

The Illinois-born left-winger is looking forward to enjoying the experiences with her youngest fan.

“The most special and memorable moments of my hockey career will be the ones I share alongside my son,” she said.

“Coming back after giving birth wasn’t easy but having him by my side each step of the way since has made it worth it.”

Spooner is also grateful for the chance to bring her son into her hockey world.

“It is really special that Rory has been able to be part of some historic and really cool hockey moments alongside me and my teammates.

“I think it’s so important for him to see strong females and know that when you set your mind to something, you can accomplish it.” 

The PWHL collective bargaining agreement, that Coyne Schofield helped negotiate as part of the Professional Women's Hockey League Players Association executive board, includes maternity leave. It was ratified on July 2, one day after Drew was born.

The success of the league has been rewarding, to say the least, for the players.

“I am most proud of the level of professionalism in everything the PWHL has done and we as players have experienced through this first season,” said Coyne Schofield.

“This level of professionalism on and off the ice takes a significant investment, and none of this would be possible without the tremendous investment from [league investors] Mark and Kimbra Walter.”

Spooner, who was selected as Toronto’s player representative for the PWHLPA, often catches herself looking into the stands on game day.

She likes what she sees.

“I am most proud of the impact we have been able to make in the female sports space.

“The support we have received has been incredible and seeing all the little girls show up to cheer us on has hopefully sparked some of them to pursue their own dreams of having a career in hockey and playing in the PWHL one day.” 

Away from the hectic pace of the season, Coyne Schofield is happy to slow things down on the home front.

As for the most rewarding part of motherhood, the 31-year-old began her response with one word.


“There’s nothing that brings me greater joy and purpose in my life than being a mom.”

A sentiment shared by Spooner.

“The most rewarding part is the everyday little things watching Rory learn new concepts and grow up way too fast.” 

“Every time he comes in for a hug or gives me a smile or giggles, I forget about everything else and can’t help but smile and take it all in.”

Spooner is hopeful that women, athletes or otherwise, feel empowered to chase their own career goals while being a parent.

“It takes a lot of support, but you can do both being a mom and still following your dreams and passions.”