Currently, around the sport of hockey, the GM of a team is predominantly patriarchal. But, now, taking the position as GM of the team, Nicole Kupaks is considered the first female GM in pro hockey history. She is currently the GM of the St. Charles Chill of the Central Hockey League. The former Loredo Bucks recently turned over their franchise rights and moved the team to Missouri a year prior to starting the on-ice festivities in 2013-14.
She’s just a determined woman from Austin, Texas who fell so deeply in love with hockey that she attended a 2004 Central Hockey League jobs fair in Dallas. After being offered seven jobs, Kupaks left a lucrative position with Dell Computers to become the Bucks’ director of public relations. Her first day in Laredo, the team won the 2004 CHL title with a Game 7 victory over the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs.
From the beginning, it was clear Kupaks was living her dream.
Within four years, she was promoted to vice president of business operations before spending two years away from the club working as a director at the Artic Wolf Ice Center in College Station, Texas. Laredo’s owner eventually lured Kupaks back to the Bucks, who in June 2011 named her one of the only female general managers in hockey history.
In addition to Kupaks, Tera Black serves as chief operating officer and alternate governor of the Charlotte Checkers in the American Hockey League.
They follow Maribel Castillo, who was in 2006 was hired as general manager of the CHL’s Corpus Chirsti IceRays, making her the only female and Hispanic executive in the league.
The precedent was primarily set in minor league baseball by Marla Terranova Vickers of the Montgomery Biscuits and Liz Kern of the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters. There’s also Kim Ng, a Major League Baseball executive who made history in 2005 when she was interviewed to become general manager Los Angeles Dodgers.
In St. Charles, Kupaks is tasked with building the Chill’s identity in Missouri. After posting a losing record last season, the Bucks ceased operations, transferred their franchise rights and renamed the team. She is trying to make inroads in the St. Louis suburb, turning the Chill into a part of the community before building up the team’s on-ice product for a return in 2013-14.