Jessica Campbell hired as 1st woman assistant coach in AHL

jessica campbell coachella
JUSSI NUKARI/Lehtikuva/AFP via Getty Images

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. (AP) — The Coachella Valley Firebirds have hired the American Hockey League’s first female assistant coach.

Jessica Campbell is ready for the opportunity.

“I’ve been spending a little bit more of my time on the development side the past three years and truly trying to create the opportunities and the growth for myself, and the knowledge to put myself in this position,” Campbell said. “So I’m very excited to be able to bring that to Coachella.”

Campbell, whose hiring was announced Tuesday, has spent the past year working with the Tri-City Storm of the USHL development program and she was an assistant coach with Germany at the IIHF men’s world championships.

Coachella Valley is set to begin its first season this fall as the AHL affiliate for the Seattle Kraken.

“All signs and all indications of what we were looking for in a coach kind of led me to Jess and led to our conversations, and has led us to her being our first assistant coach,” Coachella Valley coach Dan Bylsma said.

Bylsma was drawn to Campbell’s background as a skating coach. He first reached out to Campbell in an email sent to a generic email address for Campbell’s skating school.

Her first thought, “Is this spam?”

“It was special because I was obviously in a position where I was looking for that next step,” Campbell said.

Campbell was part of the Canadian national team program and played three seasons for the Calgary Inferno of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. She also played collegiately at Cornell.

“We think that (Campbell) brings a lot of good attributes to the position and we think that she can work with our young players and make them better, and we wouldn’t have hired her if we didn’t think she was capable of doing that,” Kraken general manager Ron Francis said. “So we’re excited that she’s the first, but that’s not why we hired her. We hired her because she’s capable of doing the job and making us better.”

Seattle had previously hired Hall of Famer Cammi Granato as one of its first pro scouts before the team ever took the ice.

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