South Shields-born Casey Traill becomes first UK player drafted to the National Women’s Hockey League
South Shields ice hockey star Casey Traill has made history by becoming the first UK player to be drafted to the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL).
The NWHL is one of the two top women’s professional league in North America – the equivalent to the NHL – and Traill was drafted in the fifth round – 25th overall – by Buffalo Beauts in the 2021 Draft on June 30.
The entry draft, common in US sports, is the process by which teams to choose the rights to players. When a team selects a player, the team receives exclusive rights to sign that player to a contract.
South Shields-born Casey, 22, started her career in the UK playing for Newcastle, Whitley, Billingham and Kingston – and moved abroad in 2015 to join the Ontario Hockey Academy.
From 2017, she combined studying and playing by icing for Castleton University in the NCAA league in North Amercia where she played nearly 100 games over four years, before graduating this summer.
Casey made 19 appearances for GB Under-18 Women as a junior and is now an established international, winning 18 caps so far for Great Britain Women since making her debut in 2016.
“Having the opportunity to be drafted to any team in the NWHL is an absolute honour, ” she said.
“It has definitely been a long journey for me, but I could not be more proud to represent British hockey on such a big platform.
“I am extremely grateful to Buffalo for taking a chance on me and hope that I can deliver for them both on and off the ice in the future.
“I wouldn’t be in the position that I am today without the love and continued support from my family, friends and coaches and I look forward to hopefully continuing to make them proud.”
She added: “My goal is to inspire other British players to continue to play and push boundaries, even when they think nobody is looking our way because you never know when or how your chance will come.
“I may be the first British woman drafted but I know for a fact that I won’t be the last. I’m excited to see what the future has in store, not only me, but for the other British players following as well.”
Casey’s exploits have sparked much pride back home.
Mayor of South Tyneside, Councillor Pat Hay said: “Well done Casey! To be the first UK player to be drafted to North America’s National Women’s Hockey League really is an incredible achievement.
“It takes a huge amount of hard work, commitment and determination to get to this level and its fabulous to see Casey showcasing her sporting talents on an international platform such as this.
“It’s also tremendous that somewhere as small as South Tyneside is seeing so many of its exceptionally talented young people hitting such great heights, whether it be in theatre, music or sports.
“Casey is a real inspiration for young people everywhere and we wish her all the best in her future sporting career.”