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

The Economic Times - - Sports: The Great Games - Tim Casey

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.


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