EDINA, Minn. – July 21, 2016 – Bringing an experienced, visionary leader to helm the nation's premier women's conference, the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) today named longtime New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) executive Katie Million as its next vice president and Women's League commissioner. Million agreed to a three-year contract and will begin her role Sept. 2, 2016.
"This is an exciting day for the present and future of the WCHA Women's League, as we welcome a dynamic new commissioner in Katie Million," said University of Minnesota Duluth Athletic Director Josh Berlo, who served as chair of the league's six-person search committee. "We received a strong, diverse and talented candidate pool for this position. Katie's passion for celebrating and growing the sport of hockey, along with a proven track record of accelerating exposure, partnerships and revenue through first-rate events and championships, makes her the perfect person at an exciting time in the league's history. Katie's relationships and progressive approach will further the WCHA's role in advancing women's hockey, while enhancing the championship-level success and unparalleled student-athlete experience that have long been league hallmarks."
"I am honored and humbled to be selected as the next WCHA vice president and Women's League commissioner," said Million. "I am very excited to work with the coaches, administrators and faculty athletics representatives at all of our programs, but most importantly the student-athletes that make up the top women's hockey league in the country.
"I'm looking forward to visiting each of our prestigious universities, cultivating relationships, engaging alumni and building on the WCHA's illustrious success. Drawing on my experience as director of events for the Olympic Authority in Lake Placid, I am excited to begin work on the league tournament – the WCHA Final Face-Off.
"I will do my very best to serve this Association and our student-athletes as Women's League commissioner and continue to promote, grow and build upon its rich tradition."
Million joins the WCHA after a highly-successful 17-year stay in Lake Placid, N.Y., including the last three years as ORDA's director of events. Under her leadership, ORDA further established itself as the region's foremost hub for major national and international competitions in the 21st century, hosting multiple world cups, world championships and made-for-television events in a variety of sports. Million oversaw multiple collegiate hockey games and tournaments, including six ECAC Men's Hockey Championships, five NCAA Division III Men's Championships and the 2007 NCAA Division I Women's Frozen Four. Lake Placid also served as a consistent home for USA Hockey, with Million guiding efforts around numerous Men's and Women's National Festivals and Camps, along with the 2004, 2008 and 2013 Four Nations Cup tournaments.
"As a member of the search committee, I am extremely excited to welcome Katie as the new commissioner of the WCHA Women's League," said Dr. Sue Jeno, faculty athletics representative at the University of North Dakota. "She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the position and I firmly believe she will be the catalyst to help the WCHA, as well as women's hockey in general, grow to new heights. I look forward to working with Katie in the months and years ahead."
After holding the league's last three Men's League Championships (2014-16) in Lake Placid, working closely with ORDA, ECAC Hockey Commissioner Steve Hagwell commented: "The WCHA has made a tremendous selection in hiring Katie Million to serve as commissioner of its Women's League. She is a consummate professional who brings great enthusiasm and a tremendous work ethic to her new role. Quite simply, Katie gets things done. More importantly, she is a first-class individual with strong character and integrity. Katie will be a great representative of the WCHA."
Among her executive duties with ORDA, Million led, organized and directed logistical, operational and administrative assets surrounding all events, while also coordinating and leading marketing, promotion and sponsorship efforts. During her tenure, she developed relationships with such corporate partners as Disney (and ESPN), Turner Sports and Red Bull, along with a multitude of national and international governing bodies.
Most recently, Million undertook a contract role as general manager of the 1980 Miracle Hockey Team, assuming responsibility for managing the professional reputation and branding of the sport's most iconic and cherished team. She rose to that level after coordinating all aspects of the last two "Miracle on Ice Fantasy Camps" and the widely-lauded "Miracle on Ice 35th Anniversary Celebration" events in 2015.
"Katie has done an excellent job developing and managing the professional reputation of the 1980 Miracle Hockey Team, and creating a memorable experience for everyone involved at our annual 'Fantasy Camp,'" said Steve Janaszak, a 1980 U.S. Olympian and a national champion goaltender at the University of Minnesota. "The 1980 Miracle Hockey Team congratulates Katie on this incredible opportunity to lead the development and advancement of women's college hockey as the new WCHA Women's League commissioner."
In her new position, Million will work closely alongside WCHA President and Men's League Commissioner Bill Robertson toward the Association's shared goals and mission.
"I am thrilled to have Katie on board at the WCHA," said Robertson, who also served on the search committee. "She has wonderful and infectious enthusiasm for providing the very best experience for the student-athletes, while her successes in enhancing brands, managing large-scale events and developing partnerships speak for themselves. I look forward to collaborating with Katie in the continued growth and excellence of the WCHA."
Added fellow search committee member and Bemidji State University Assistant Coach Amber Fryklund: "I am excited to welcome Katie to the WCHA Women's League! She brings a terrific background that will promote our league, while representing our student-athletes and institutions in a positive and energetic fashion. Her vision and leadership will continue to build on a great tradition of excellence in the WCHA."
Million has served as an adjunct lecturer at Paul Smith's College in Paul Smiths, N.Y. for the last six years, while she also managed the Venue Communication Center at the Whistler (B.C.) Sliding Centre during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games. Since 2005, she has managed the Songs at Mirror Lake Music Series – a Lake Placid-based nonprofit, volunteer-based community group she helped create. Million earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration from State University of New York at Oswego.
Million becomes the third commissioner in the 17-year history of the WCHA Women's League, following Sara Martin (1999-2014) and Aaron Kemp (2014-16). Robertson, who has served in an interim capacity since Kemp's retirement in February, will continue in that role until Million officially begins.
About the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA)
The women's Western Collegiate Hockey Association has won a record 16 national championships in 17 years since its inception in 1999, while producing six Patty Kazmaier Award winners, 86 All-Americans and numerous Olympic and international team members. The eight-team Division 1 conference consists of: Bemidji State University (Beavers), the University of Minnesota (Golden Gophers), the University of Minnesota Duluth (Bulldogs), Minnesota State University (Mavericks), the University of North Dakota, Ohio State University (Buckeyes), St. Cloud State University (Huskies) and the University of Wisconsin (Badgers). For more information, visit www.wcha.com.