Editor’s Note: Join us this week as we celebrate the women who are breaking through barriers at the National Women’s Hockey League. Today’s post is interview 4 of 4 in a series titled Women of the NWHL.
Hayley Moore was only four years old when she picked up a hockey stick, but it created a feeling she wanted to carry with her for the rest of her life. Now, as the general manager of the Isobel Cup Championship-Winning Boston Pride, Hayley oversees one of the four teams in the National Women’s Hockey League.
But if you would have asked a high school – or even college-aged – Hayley where she thought her career path would go, she would have said that she only envisioned herself playing hockey.
“I initially thought that it would be too heartbreaking to do anything in the hockey world if I wasn’t able to play,” she says. “While I love the game and I still play, I definitely appreciate the other side of things. That’s something that I’ve learned navigating through my career. There’s so much more our sport gives us that’s very rewarding, that’s not just being on the ice and playing.”
After graduating from college and unsure of where her next steps would be, Hayley worked a string of jobs to gain hands-on real-world experience, including teaching, coaching and consulting. Then, while working at a summer camp she met NWHL Commissioner Dani Rylan, who at the time was a graduate student. The two hit it off and kept in touch. Then, nearly seven years later, the duo reconnected over Dani’s idea to launch the NWHL.
“She was laying the groundwork for this league and connected with me as a Boston resource,” Hayley says. “I knew right away that it was something I wanted to be a part of. I just knew it was something I couldn’t walk away from.”
What sparked your interest in hockey?
When I was growing up, there weren’t a lot of girls playing hockey. It was my older brother who played hockey and I began by playing with him out in the street. I wanted to be a lot like my older brother, which is what sucked me in. For my fourth birthday I asked for hockey equipment, and it spiraled from there.
How did your childhood passion for hockey lead to your current job working in the sport?
I knew right away that I was going to fall in love with the game, and I did immediately. When I was playing hockey, I don’t think I realized that there would be an “end” to it. When I was younger I thought, “I’m going to be in the NHL.” I didn’t know anything different. Being young, you don’t even know there’s a difference (between men’s and women’s sports). You think, “Oh the boys can do it? I can do it too!” I played with boys growing up.
But then once you get into those high school and college years, you realize, “Oh wow. The end is coming.” At that point, you have to start thinking about things outside of playing the game. For a while, I honestly thought that for me, I was going to continue playing or nothing else. I loved the game so much, but I loved playing. I was into my academics, and although I didn’t love them as much as my hockey, I went to a good high school and college that taught me to love my time off the ice, too. I realized I needed to focus on my degree and break away from hockey once I graduated from college.
As a general manager, what are your responsibilities?
As a GM, I don’t think my responsibilities are only that of what you would typically think a GM’s responsibilities would be – especially in our inaugural season. I was picking up snacks at the grocery store for our bus trips and working with agents – and those are two different extremes.
How do you organize your day?
I’m a bit obsessive as far as scheduling goes, and my friends make fun of me for carrying my planner everywhere. I’m still old school, and everything gets written down. It’s not programmed into my phone. It’s actually a skill I picked up in high school. We had planners where we were required to write down our homework in. Organizing and planning my time primarily starts with my planner. If my friends read this, they will laugh. They know I live by it.
This is very much a job that I can’t turn on and off. We are a startup, we don’t have unlimited resources, and we are still building ourselves from the grown up. That being said, there’s always something to do and more we can be achieving. It is hard to shut off and sometimes I find myself waking up in the middle of the night imagining emails that I should be writing. My philosophy is to never let myself get too far behind, so I won’t feel like I’m in a daunting hole that is never-ending.
As you grow your staff, what specific qualities do you look for in those you hire?
We have very passionate staff members who are very organized, knowledgeable and experienced. Our coaching staff is incredible. I think three of the biggest things would be: believing in our league, believing in our philosophies and teamwork. Our team has our heads on straight and we all have the same goal.
With Boston being such a sports-heavy market, what impact does that have on a young team looking to grow?
We have a lot of sports teams in Boston – whether professional or college. The city is booming with sports, which means we have a lot of sports fans, but it also means we’re competing in our market. We benefit by offering something unique. Our players do a great job at supporting our league and our team, and helping to promote not just their personal brands, but also that of the team and the league in Boston. I think that’s one of the reasons why people come back to our games. They meet the players in an autograph session after a game and realize that not only is this player a member of the Boston Pride, but she’s also a collegiate coach, or an Olympian, an engineer or a teacher down the street. When our fans connect with the players off the ice it makes them even more connected, and they then want to support the Pride and come back to our games. And that’s what’s missing from those other professional sports in our market – that one-on-one personal connection with a player.
What is your approach to business and growing the Boston Pride?
The best approach is to know there is always something more to learn, especially when you’re building something new. We’re in a space where we can be constantly changing and adapting. My approach is to be open-minded and to believe in everyone we have on our staff. I try to make sure I’m a good communicator on my end and that I respect everyone who is a part of our team here in Boston. We can do a lot more by working together than any one person trying to do something on her own. If you think that way, then as a team, you can be really successful.
Where do you envision Boston Pride in the next five years?
I see us playing at the Boston Garden and collaborating with the NHL. That’s the goal. Also, having young girls come up to me and say they’re going to play for the Boston Pride one day and play in the NWHL; this is something you’re going to be hearing a lot more often. Those young players are not only going to know the NHL, but they’re going to know the NWHL.
What career advice have you learned that you would share with others?
The biggest piece of advice I’ve ever heard is to get comfortable being uncomfortable. It’s a motto that in hockey, we hear a lot in our locker rooms. Professionally, you’re always going to be pushed outside of your comfort zone, and if you can accept those challenges, then you’re always going to continue to grow.
I’d love to grab a Dunkin Donuts coffee with:
My go-to outfit is:
A t-shirt and yoga pants.
My favorite food is:
I can’t live without:
My favorite way to unwind is:
My favorite song to sing when nobody’s watching is:
I feel my best when:
I start my day with a workout.
Loved this article? Read part 1 of 4 in our Women of the NWHL Week series featuring Dani Rylan, 29-year-old founder and commissioner of the league. Then click on over to part 2 of 4 featuring director of communications Savanna Arral and finally, 3 of 4, our roundtable discussion with NWHL hockey players.
We can do a lot more by working together than any one person trying to do something on her own. If you think that way, then as a team, you can be really successful.