ODENTON, Md. — Kim Weiss is breaking down bench barriers.
The 32-year-old has been hired as an assistant coach by the Maryland Black Bears. The junior hockey team based in Odenton said she is the first woman bench coach in men’s junior hockey. That’s a group that includes more than 350 teams in the U.S. and Canada.
"To have the opportunity to actually stand on a bench and represent the female population on a bench in a man’s sport is really exciting," said Weiss. "It’s something that’s not lost on me that I have that opportunity to show young women and young men that it’s possible to do something a little different."
"We don’t think of it as male, female, etc. We just want good people," said Black Bears Head Coach and General Manager Clint Mylymok. "That’s the mandate I have as head coach and General Manager for our players - bring the best people in our locker rooms."
The Black Bears play in the North American Hockey League. Mylymok added Weiss as a second assistant coach. He previously had only one other assistant.
Weiss grew up in Rockville, played youth hockey in Maryland and college hockey at Trinity in Hartford, Conn. She has coached boys high school teams and for the last nine years the Washington Pride girls program. She has also been volunteering on the ice with the Black Bears for the past couple years.
"I’m the first but I know I won’t be the last. I think from the decision-makers’ standpoint I hope this opens people's eyes that you can look in some non-traditional areas and find great people and great coaches," she said.
The next generation of girls hockey players agree.
"The people who say, ‘Girls can’t coach. They can’t coach’. People who say that, it teaches them a lesson that they can coach," said 7-year-old Ella.
This isn’t the first time the Black Bears have blazed this kind of trail. They also have the only woman president in junior hockey.
Robyn Remick is the woman behind the scenes for the club.
"This is an organization, Black Bear Sports, that really values talent and intelligence and doesn’t filter where they look for that," said Remick.
And doesn’t skate past anything that will lead to more on-ice success.