CALGARY, Alta. -- Shannon Miller, who piloted Canada's National Women's Team to its fourth straight gold medal at the Women's World Championship earlier this month, has been named head coach of the first-ever Canadian Olympic Women's Hockey Team, Canadian Hockey announced Thursday.
Miller becomes the first-ever full-time, salaried head coach of the National Women's Team and is also the only full-time female head coach of a National Women's hockey in the world. She begins her duties May 1 and will work out of her office at the Royal Bank Canadian Hockey Centre in Calgary.
'Canada's National Women's team has fashioned a brilliantly successful performance record and Shannon Miller has been a central part of that,' said Canadian Hockey Chairman Frank Lento. 'She has done an outstanding job and, clearly, we believe she is the best choice to lead our team at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano.'
Miller, 33, has won every international tournament she has coached with Canada's National Women's Team, winning gold as an assistant at the 19 Women's World Championships, and as Canada's head coach at the 19 Women's Pacific Championship, as well as the 1996 3 Nations' Cup. Miller's won-lost-tied mark as Team Canada's head coach is: 18-2-0.
'Shannon has been involved as either an assistant or head coach at the last three Women's World Championships and has shown that she has the leadership skills, motivational ability and hockey experience to put Canada in prime position to retain its place atop the women's hockey world,' said Bob Nicholson, Canadian Hockey's senior vice-president, hockey operations. 'She was the obvious choice for the job.'
Based on its gold-medal performance at the recent Women's World's in Kitchener, ON, Canada is seeded first in the historic, first-ever, six-team Olympic Women's Hockey Tournament. Miller's challenge will be to keep Canada on top of the world of women's hockey.
'Today is a landmark day for me as I celebrate my appointment as head coach of the first-ever Canadian Women's Olympic Hockey Team,' said Miller. 'I am honored and passionately proud to be a Canadian and representing our country on the world stage of hockey.'
Miller's assistant coaches with the Olympic team will be named within by mid-May, Nicholson said.
Miller, who started the first-ever girls' hockey team in Calgary in 1989, was among the first coaches involved with the Women's High Performance Program, when Canadian Hockey made a commitment to develop top-notch female coaches more than two years ago.
Karen Wallace, head of Canadian Hockey's Female Council, said: 'Shannon's appointment as a full-time, salaried head coach is a key step forward for the development of female hockey at the grassroots level -- for both coaches and players. This a very positive thing for our game.'
Beginning this weekend, Miller will oversee three evaluation camps for players seeking a berth on the Olympic team. Similar camps will be held in North York, ON (May 2-4) and Montreal (May 23-25) and are a final opportunity for aspirants to earn an invitation to compete for a berth on Canada's Olympic Team.
Between 25 and 30 players will be invited to Calgary next September for a five-month period of training, evaluation and exhibition games leading up to the Olympics. The players will be based at the Father David Bauer Arena at the Royal Bank Canadian Hockey Centre and will earn a monthly stipend equal to that paid to members of the full-time National Men's Team, which also is based in Calgary.
The Women's Team will play a series of games against Team USA, travel to Finland for a series against that country's excellent national team and compete in the second annual 3 Nations' Cup next Fall in Lake Placid, N.Y.