Miller and Feaster: The Trailblazers of Ice Hockey
In a first, two women have secured full-time positions on the coaching staff of the men’s hockey teams
During a men’s hockey game between Boston University and Providence College in early December, Brittany Miller sat in the press box near center ice. She tracked statistics and typed notes in her laptop. Across the rink, Theresa Feaster kept a close eye on the game, logging video of the action.
They could’ve been mistaken for reporters or diligent fans. But Miller and Feaster are much more than devoted followers of their beloved teams. They are 24-year-old trailblazers.
Last fall, Miller and Feaster became the first women to serve as full-time members of an NCAA Division I men’s hockey coaching staff when they were hired by their alma maters. But Miller, Boston University’s director of hockey operations, and Feaster, the coordinator of hockey operations at Providence College, say their gender rarely comes up in conversations with coaches or players.
“I’mjustonthestaffandcometowork every day and work hard,” Feaster said. “That’s all there is to it. It’s not really something that crosses my mind.”
Miller and Feaster had noticed each other during games when they both worked as student managers, first as undergraduates and then as graduate students. But they did not formally meetuntilameetingoftheHockeyEast Association, the teams’ conference, after both had been hired full time.
“It’s nice to have someone else who worked hard as a manager and proved herself to her coaching staff,” Miller said. “It shows that Hockey East is really moving forward in hiring females.”
Each has been around hockey for as long as they can remember, though they came from opposite directions. Miller grew up on the ice, learning to skate at age 3 and playing competitive hockey through her high school years at Boston Latin School. Feaster didn’t play, but she began learning the game while bouncing around the minors with her father, Jay, and gained a newfound interest when his job as general manager of the Calgary Flames led to a connection to Providence while she was studying there.
Miller, who had followed her older brother into the game and was coached by her father, started working as a manager at BU during the first semester of her freshman year, attending all of the Terriers’ practices and games while still managing a full class load.
She was finishing up her master’s degree and working as an intern for a sports marketing research company in London last summer when she received calls from coach David Quinn and the athletic director, Drew Marrochello. The Terriers had an opening on their coaching staff, and both men thought Miller was the perfect candidate. Now she is in charge of all of the teams’ travel logistics, ensures players handle their academic work and helps track statistics.
Miller said Quinn and the rest of the staff had treated her as an equal since she accepted the job in September. “They trust me to do a good job, and they know I can do this job just as good if not better than any guy,” she said.
Marrochellosaidhehadknownearly on that Miller would be successful in Brittany Miller at the school’s rink in Boston —
any endeavor she chose. “I’m frankly glad it’s in hockey, in college sports,” he said. “I know she’s got a high ceiling.”
While Miller’s love for hockey has burned since her youth, Feaster’s was more like rekindling an old flame.
As a young child in the mid-90s, Feaster was a regular at the rink
and aboard the team bus when her father was the general manager of the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League. Jay Feaster remembered his 3-year-old daughter talking hockey with Mitch Lamoureux, a center who had played parts of three seasons in the NHL but was by then a minor-league lifer on the wrong side of 30. “I’ll see that in my mind until the day I die,” Jay Feaster said. “It was like two players just sitting there having a conversation.”
As Theresa Feaster grew older, she would pepper her father, who helped the Tampa Bay Lightning win the Stanley Cup as their general manager in2004,withquestionsaboutthegame. But she did not think seriously about getting involved in the sport until she attended the 2012 NHL draft. Jay Feaster was Calgary’s general manager at the time, and the Flames selected two players who ended up at Providence. Theresa Feaster i nt roduced hersel f to Friars coach Nate Leaman, told him that she was entering her junior year and asked if she could volunteer with the team.
She was soon attending coaches’ meetings and helping the program with anything it needed. She made such a good impression that Leaman hired her full time in October.
THERESA FEASTER OPERATIONS COORDINATOR, PROVIDENCE COLLEGE