Daryl Watts hopes her report PHF contract opens doorways for future generations

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Daryl Watts signed a report contract with the Toronto Six. (Photograph by Justin Berl/NCAA Photographs/NCAA Photographs through Getty Photographs)

Regardless of ending her NCAA hockey profession because the second highest scoring participant in NCAA girls’s hockey historical past, Daryl Watts confronted a troublesome choice. Choices to play skilled hockey had been restricted, particularly if she needed to earn a dwelling wage.

She’d been accepted to a Grasp’s program in business actual property with the prospects of constructing six-figure sums quickly. Alternatively, her lifelong dream of enjoying hockey was over. At age 23, she thought of herself retired from the sport because the PWHPA and PHF simply weren’t paying sustainable wages.

That was, till the PHF introduced its salary cap would be increasing to $1.5 million next season. With that information, Watts’ head began spinning. She advised her mother and father she wouldn’t be going again to highschool this yr, and shortly, she signed with the PHF’s Toronto Six.

Because it seems, the six-figure sums Watts had hoped for had been already hers, as she signed a two-year deal that can pay her $150,000 subsequent season. The contract is the largest in girls’s hockey historical past, smashing Mikyla Grant-Mentis’ contract of $80,000 she signed this season with the Buffalo Beauts.

For Watts, nonetheless, it wasn’t about smashing information, it was about smashing the glass ceiling and opening doorways for future generations of ladies in skilled hockey.

“Girls’s hockey has been struggling for therefore lengthy. I believe a quantity like it will present the ladies’s hockey group nice reduction and an incredible sense of hope that the long run is shiny,” mentioned Watts of her report contract.

“This represents an incredible step ahead for girls’s hockey. After I was younger, I believe I’d have been excited to know that professional girls’s hockey gamers could make a big sum of money now. It’s a great day for girls’s sports activities and ladies’s hockey.”

Daryl Watts played for the Wisconsin Badgers in the NCAA. (Photo by Justin Berl/NCAA Photos/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Daryl Watts performed for the Wisconsin Badgers within the NCAA. (Photograph by Justin Berl/NCAA Photographs/NCAA Photographs through Getty Photographs)

From a retired 23-year-old hockey participant eyeing a profession in actual property to a rookie in North America’s solely skilled girls’s hockey league, Watts’ perspective rapidly shifted.

“After I had thought of myself retired, I used to be so excited for what my future appeared like with out hockey, as a result of hockey had been my life for therefore lengthy,” she mentioned. “It was enjoyable to have a brand new perspective, however my perspective modified.

“The chance to make a great dwelling enjoying the game I first fell in love with — what a dream come true.”

It’s an expertise girls’s athletes are having throughout North America with skilled leagues paying six-figure salaries, together with the WNBA (basketball) and NWSL (soccer).

The WNBA wage cap can be $1,420,500 for 2023. It’s a quantity decrease than the PHF, though with fewer roster spots, WNBA gamers will make, on common, greater than gamers within the PHF. The NWSL wage cap was lately elevated as nicely, upping their per staff restrict to $1,375,000.

With elevated wage comes elevated consideration for the league, and extra gamers who will select the PHF reasonably than enjoying with the PWHPA, heading to Europe, or retiring.

In truth, of the final 5 Patty Kazmaier Award winners, representing the highest girls’s hockey participant within the NCAA, three are presently within the PHF, whereas a fourth — final yr’s winner Taylor Heise — remains to be within the NCAA. Watts received the award herself in 2017-18. Equally, final yr’s Canadian college participant of the yr, Jade Downie-Landry, can be within the PHF enjoying for the growth Montreal Pressure.

Watts believes it’s a transparent signal “that the younger expert gamers are beginning to transfer towards the PHF,” which she referred to as the “future of ladies’s hockey as a result of the subsequent technology is now right here.”

Final season with Wisconsin, Watts scored 57 factors and 28 targets in solely 38 video games. Whereas the Toronto product may give attention to including to her private accolades, for now, her intent is to be an envoy for the sport, so younger ladies can see risk within the PHF {and professional} girls’s hockey.

“I hope to assist develop girls’s hockey and set up knowledgeable league that younger ladies can look as much as and the place wage compensation is sufficient to make a dwelling for your self, and that’s why I imagine within the PHF,” mentioned Watts.

After twice representing Canada on the U-18 World Championship, accumulating a pair of silver medals, Watts is uncertain the place the long run will lead her, however she’s not ruling out something, together with competing for a roster spot with Group Canada once more. Till then, she’s excited to be again enjoying the sport she loves, and making a dwelling doing it.

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