“Everything that’s happened this year has been very unexpected, but it really is an incredible opportunity,” Cooke said. “I take every opportunity as best I can.”
Cooke began her officiating career in the Merrimack Valley at age 12, inspired by her older brother, who still works with her at Hockey East games.
“It’s a perfect part-time job for middle and high school kids,” Cooke said.
Back then, she was balancing refereeing with her playing career, but now she is balancing it with her career as a lawyer. Consistency is key either way, and Cooke believes quality sets her apart as a referee.
“I go out there, do my job and stay consistent,” Cooke said.
Cooke hopes her success will inspire other college players to take on the umpire stripes.
“I think it’s a really exciting time to be an upcoming women’s official,” Cooke said. “You never know what’s going to happen day to day and what opportunities are going to come your way.”
One of those assignments could end up being the Olympics. Playing it is the goal of almost every female hockey player. Although Cooke’s initial dream may have included an American jersey rather than a referee’s, receiving the news of his selection was a thrill.
“It took a little while to sink in just because it’s something I’ve been working on for so long,” Cooke said. “So many long nights in the car and working games all weekend and then working full time during the week. It was extremely exciting and also kind of a relief to finally have this happen and to recognize all the hard work and blood, sweat and tears that made this possible.
Tuesday’s announcement that the board of governors of the premier hockey federation will make a $25 million investment in the league, increasing player salaries, providing player benefits and allowing for expansion, sparked discussion among current college players evaluating their post-graduation options.
College players have three options to further their hockey career: the PHF (formerly the NWHL), the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA), or play internationally. Players generally choose the option that offers a location and schedule that matches their full-time career. Ask any college player which league he intends to join, and a typical response is, “Which one fits my job the best.” Another consideration is national team status, as many Team USA Hockey and Hockey Canada members play in the PWHPA.
Did Tuesday’s announcement change the minds of current college players? It’s unclear; with the end of the Division 1 regular season, many have put their decision-making aside in order to focus on their current squad. The promise of raising wages to such an extent that some could make it their primary source of income may help the PHF, but timing and other considerations may still push players away. It may also force the PWHPA, which formed separately in a quest for better wages, to work with the PHF.
Originally from Waltham and alumnus of Boston University, Anya Packer, hopes college players will seriously consider joining the PHF. The Metropolitan Riveters general manager and former NWHL Players’ Association executive thinks the changes should appeal to the group about to graduate.
“As a college-graded player, you want to find a league that supports you as best as possible on and off the ice,” Packer said. “Having full health care coverage and maternity leave is an important part of that, and that should give players some confidence considering the PHF is a league that is moving in the right direction.”
Northeastern’s Frankel achieves a major milestone
Just two saves in Northeastern’s 5-0 win over Boston College on Tuesday night, Aerin Frankel became the first goaltender in Huskies history to make 3,000 saves. The graduate student, who won the Patty Kazmaier Award last year as the best female college hockey player, finished with 25 saves for her seventh shutout of the season, the best in the country. “Considering all the great goalies that have come through Northeastern, the fact that she holds this record is quite remarkable,” said the Northeastern coach. david flint … College Hockey America, based in Winthrop, the smallest Division 1 conference, initiated a back-up plan for playoff seeding and standings this week. After a weekend series between Penn State and Lindenwood was canceled with no time left in the regular season to reschedule, the conference announced it would now use “percentage of points earned in each series.” to determine the final ranking.