Seeking An Edge

Tik Root | The Washington Post | Photos: Amanda Swinhart

BOSTON –  Kelly Cooke has played professional hockey for three years, though this season there’s one big difference:  she’s drawing her first paycheck from the sport. Just because the players in the upstart National Women’s Hockey League are now being paid, however, that doesn’t mean they’re getting rich.

For Cooke, hockey is still a part-time job. Twice a week practices are often bookended by 10-hour days as a paralegal at a local law office. That’s not to mention the refereeing gigs on the side. “It’s definitely a busy life,” she said.

With salaries, though, the NWHL is certainly taking women’s hockey in a new direction. And while the pay is modest — ranging from a $10,000 minimum to $25,000 — it has helped the league contend with the Canadian Women’s Hockey League for world-class talent.