On June 29, 2021, the National Women’s Hockey League held its draft. Athletes all over the world waited to hear their names called and see their professional dreams realized.
When the draft reached the fourth pick, Miami Marlins General Manager Kim Ng came on screen and announced, “With the fourth overall pick in the 2021 NWHL Draft, the Toronto Six are proud to select Tatum Skaggs from Ohio State University.”
Becoming a professional hockey player was a moment Skaggs had dreamed about growing up.
“Hearing your name called, it’s kind of cool for women’s hockey to be able to provide options for women to play beyond college,” Skaggs said.
But Skaggs added she was never sure professional hockey in America would be her future because she didn’t know if there would be a league in the U.S.
“I’m going to give all kudos to the women before me that laid it on the people that needed it and set in stone that women deserve the opportunity to play sports,” she said.
A day before the NWHL Draft, Tatum signed a one-year contract to play in Vienna, Austria for the EHV Sabres as part of the European Women’s Hockey League — leaving the Ohio State star a big decision to make.
“I went to see my friends in Minnesota over the weekend and three or four of them had played in Vienna and they were like, ‘Tatum, you gotta go do Europe.’ And I needed that push to tell myself this is what I gotta do,” she said. “I’m moving there and I’m like I don’t know what I just got myself into, but we’re just going to pack a few bags and go see what life is like.”
She also wants to see what hockey is like overseas.
“I’m excited to see the talent that they have and play with it and learn the European game of hockey,” Skaggs said. “It’s for sure probably way different from the States: more puck possession, more skilled than here but yeah we’ll see. Hopefully I’ll adapt soon or quick!”
Skaggs doesn’t know if her spot on the Toronto Six will still be around after she’s done playing in Europe, and she does not expect the team to wait for her. But she is still determined make her mark as a hockey player in the United States.
“I would love to come back and help pave a future for women’s hockey,” she said enthusiastically. “I want to get every girl on a pair of skates. They fall in love with it as soon as they try it because it’s a fun sport, you get to get your little physical side out and nudge some people. It’s super fun [because of] the team aspect and the culture.”
Plus, there is one more team and one more dream that Skaggs has her sights set on.
“My dream is always to represent my country in the Olympics,” she said. “If I pursue hockey further, the 2026 Olympics could be in the picture . . .Don’t put women’s hockey off the map because as more generations come, we are going to make sure there is a sustainable league for women’s hockey.”