Ice hockey can be a great sport: fast, technical, tough, with crazy turns.

But ice hockey can also be exhausting: the constant rabble, a veritable cult of suppressed pain, an often silly masculinity.

It has always been difficult for women.

Things are constantly evolving on the ice, but when it comes to posts and offices, they are usually left out.

Only in recent years has there been a cautious rethinking, in North America in the professional league NHL at least some women were hired, in 2020 the Swiss top club SC Bern presented its first manager in Florence Schelling.

But behind the players' bench, the men usually keep to themselves.

Ironically, the German Ice Hockey Federation (DEB), otherwise not exactly the spearhead of emancipation, is now taking a different path at the World Cup in Finland.

Jessica Campbell, 29, Canadian, is part of national coach Toni Söderholm's staff and is responsible for the manpower game and the individual development of the players.

Campbell was a national team player herself, finished second at the World Championships and was something of a television star in between, getting far on the TV show "Battle of the Blades", something like "Let's dance" on ice.

Most importantly, Campbell is a freelance running and technique coach for NHL pros and a Chicago youth team.

That's why Nuremberg's sports director Stefan Ustorf took notice of her and brought her to Franconia for a few weeks in the spring, where she improved the majority game in a few days.

Even then, newspapers reported that television was also there.

A woman in men's ice hockey is also something special in 2022.

Müller: "She convinced immediately"

Now at the World Cup everything is even bigger.

Various camera teams came to the German team's training session on Wednesday.

And there was only a marginal question of whether Tim Stützle is fit for the fourth tournament game this Thursday (3:20 p.m. at Sport1 and Magentasport) against Denmark or whether the North American professionals Lukas Reichel and Leon Gawanke will travel quickly.

Incidentally, the former is still pending, the DEB informed Reichel and Gawanke in the evening that the two players are expected in Finland on Thursday.

Much more important beforehand, however, for the camera crews was that Jessica Campbell would speak.

She did that eloquently as usual – which Söderholm particularly appreciates about her: “She communicates very well with the players.

She has other keywords.

If I talk two or three sentences, she might say one sentence," says the national coach, who "but doesn't want to make things bigger than they are."

Campbell was not there for the image, it was an "ice hockey decision".

It sounds similar with the players: "When you get into the dressing room, you have to convince with competence," says Captain Moritz Müller, "and she convinced immediately."

Campbell herself doesn't want to talk too much about her role as a woman either.

“I focus on coaching,” she says.

If she paves the way for other women, that's nice, but not her main task.

She sees this in the improvement of the team – collectively and individually.

"She looks for solutions and has a very good eye for technical details," says Söderholm, who had spoken to Campbell several times before bringing her into his team.

Campbell also likes to look back on the conversations: "We quickly realized that we had quite similar views on how ice hockey should be played." With speed and possession of the puck, with consistency and smart decisions.

Was she still surprised that she was allowed to go to the World Cup?

"No, because I believe in myself," she says.

And because it brings new ideas into the discussions.

"Always work at the highest level"

They should help you too.

Jessica Campbell had already developed from a pure running and technique expert to a co-trainer in Nuremberg.

Now at the DEB she continues like this, sees herself "in the same role as the other assistant coaches, but with a different perspective", because there are always "different ways to the same goal".

Where does your own path lead you?

“I always wanted to work at the highest level,” she says.

And a World Cup is already pretty high.

Maybe it will soon be enough for a permanent job, maybe even as a boss at some point.

She is not averse: “No matter where you come from, who you are, what gender you are – if you are good, you should be successful.

At the end of the day, we're all talking about hockey."

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