Anyone who follows the Ice Hockey World Championships and especially the games of the German national team may have noticed that there is a woman on the coaching staff. Jessica Campbell is the assistant coach to head coach Toni Söderholm. The young and attractive trainer (29) is the first woman ever to take a seat on a men’s national team at a world championship. Söderholm thinks a lot of Campbell, brought her on board and even entrusted her with the majority game. The former Canadian national player got the chance to prove herself during the season in the German Ice Hockey League (DEL) in Nuremberg.
But on Wednesday she was amazed when she heard a question from a Slovakian reporter. Barbara Ziacikova, a journalist at the Slovak TV station RTVS, asked her: “What is it like, as an attractive woman, to be surrounded by so many attractive men? Maybe they like one player more than the other…?” Campbell could hardly believe her ears as she gaped at the reporter in disbelief. The assistant coach retaliated, saying she couldn’t understand what the reporter was trying to say with this question.
But Ziacikova didn’t give up and then repeated the question. Campbell was subsequently unnerved and replied: “It’s my job. I have a purely professional relationship with the players, otherwise nothing works,” emphasized the Canadian. After the interview, Campbell went to the press officer of the German national ice hockey team to tell him that she didn’t like the questions at all. The Finnish TV broadcaster YLE first reported on this incident. He described the question as an “outrageous innuendo.” The Slovak media also wrote about this faux pas.
The page “Pravda” (in German: truth) headlined something like “disgrace for a hundred years”. “It’s an even greater shame than our performance against Switzerland (3-5 loss, note). I’m glad the Finns wrote about it. We would have dismissed it as normal, but it isn’t. It’s embarrassing for the editor,” said Slovak ice hockey journalist Tomas Prokop.
The German team boss Toni Söderholm, however, rejected macho debates in ice hockey about the opposite sex. “If you’re on a plane and you find out that a woman is the pilot, don’t go back to the terminal either. It was a purely professional decision for me to bring Jessica to the coaching staff. I’m only interested in the ice hockey aspect,” emphasized the Finn.
Her former players from the Nuremberg Ice Tigers also speak highly of Campbell: “It took about 15 seconds for the whole team to realize that she was with us. She has a great knowledge of hockey and a good feel for the game. The lads started listening straight away,” said defender Andrew Bodnarchuk.