Like a lot of kids his age, Don Gould grew up playing hockey outdoors in upstate New York. He continued to stay involved with the game, always keeping a deep connection no matter where he lived.
Gould is a longtime volunteer, and he recalls being with a club in New Jersey about 20 years ago. The program looked at developing opportunities for girls hockey players but couldn’t find anyone interested in taking it on.
“I had daughters, so I jumped in and helped them,” Gould said. “And it kind of took off from there.”
What really took off was Gould’s continued passion for the sport, specifically his involvement in growing girls and women’s participation. Among other roles, and in addition to his full-time job outside of hockey, Gould has served USA Hockey in a volunteer role as the Girls/Women’s Section Director for the organization since 2015.
Gould’s influence has been integral in growing the girls game, according to Kristen Wright, USA Hockey ADM manager for female hockey and staff liaison for the Girls/Women’s Section. Wright works with Gould on initiatives relating to the Section’s strategic objectives.
Moving into a new segment of the hockey membership, for girls in this case, isn’t easy, Gould said. Interest or acceptance might not be there all the time. So he saw it as part of his role to promote girls hockey for all participants through encouragement and education to develop community interest in the sport.
Gould recognizes that USA Hockey needs to have leaders in volunteer roles, like his, to help develop opportunities for young girls in hockey.
“We’re looking to help develop leadership and additional opportunities for young girls in hockey. It takes interest, it takes people with passion to go out and do it,” Gould said. “We’ve got to have leadership.”
Gould’s passion for his role shines through every time you talk to him, Wright said.
“You can immediately tell when you have a conversation with Don that he is passionate,” Wright said. “Not only about hockey, but more specifically about making a place for women in the game, making a place for little girls to join the game and making sure everybody can play hockey.”