Kim McCullough: A Rare Champion of Women in Hockey


This is part of Northern Notables, a collection of interviews with NSS Alumni who have made an impact in their personal and professional lives.

by Sam Laskaris

It seems only fitting that Kim McCullough NSS'98 has made a living in sport. During her high school years, she was a fixture on the rosters of various school teams. Kim suited up for Northern's basketball and soccer squads alongside becoming an elite-level hockey player. "I was super busy between all the sports I was doing," she said. "It was go-go-go all the time." Today, Kim is an elite hockey coach sought out by women's and girls' teams at every level, including players who have represented Canada at the Olympics.
Kim had praise for many of her Northern coaches, especially Enrico Iaffolla, who coached her in soccer. Seeing Kim's prowess on the field, Mr. Iaffolla tried to persuade her to pursue soccer instead of hockey. Kim, however, already had more than 10 hockey scholarship offers from universities across North America. 
Kim McCullough on the ice wearing a branded Total Female Hockey jersey.
Choosing Dartmouth College (an Ivy League school in Hanover, New Hampshire), Kim went on to became a star hockey player at the NCAA Division 1 level. In all four collegiate seasons (1998 - 2002), she was one of the club’s top point-getters, serving as Dartmouth's captain in her senior season.
I was a bit of a science nerd, but I had always been told I’d be a good coach.
–  Kim McCullough, thinking back to her days at Northern
Kim spoke fondly of how Northern's Enriched program set her up for success. She excelled in the classroom. "I was a bit of a science nerd, but I had always been told I’d be a good coach," she said. 
That’s a bit of an understatement. In 2008, Kim founded Total Female Hockey, an elite group of instructors who provide on-ice and off-ice hockey development to women’s and girls' teams, as well as to individuals (just females). "It's kind of my niche," she said. "I'm one of the few people who coaches only girls."
Interview continues below ...
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Total Female Hockey operates hockey camps across Canada, and its coaching packages and products span numerous areas of player improvement – from Game Winning Nutrition to Off-Ice Elite Training System to The Scholarship Project – a coaching package designed to prepare young people in the hopes of getting a college hockey scholarship. Taken right from her website: "Get the insider secrets directly from college scouts and coaches themselves. Find out exactly what you need to know and need to do in order to get noticed, get recruited and play college hockey." This is serious stuff. You don't make these kinds of promises to young people unless you are established, know what you're doing, and can deliver. Through it all Coach Kim, as she is affectionately known, is a no-nonsense kind of person. Approachable, relatable, but serious about results.
Kim actually started working as a hockey instructor a decade before founding Total Female Hockey. During her late teens and throughout her collegiate hockey career, Kim spent good chunks of her summers instructing at hockey camps in Toronto. "It was just sort of natural," she said. "As a hockey player, I loved being on the ice all day.” It was a sweet gig.
Kim eventually crossed paths with the legendary Dave McMaster, former national women’s team coach, and bench boss for the University of Toronto Varsity Blues women’s squad, which he guided to a dozen provincial championships. "It opened my eyes ... that coaching could be a career," Kim said of McMaster's impact on her. "He was a really good mentor and role model for me." 
Coach Kim in coaching mode.
Throughout her career, Kim has coached at the provincial, national and Olympic levels in Canada, and has coached players in the United States, England and Czech Republic. She’s worked with over 8000 players, 1000 coaches and 150 teams.
With a keen sense of the importance of supporting girls from the start, Kim also works as the Director of Hockey Operations for the Toronto Leaside Girls Hockey Association, one of Ontario’s largest associations which includes about 1,600 players.
Kim is a stellar example of what happens when you figure out what you're great at and follow that path. As Kim likes to say:



Interviewer, Sam Laskaris, is a Toronto-based freelance writer and joined the NSSF board in early 2021. His wife Kathryn (Defries) and their two sons, Michael and Adam, are Northern alumni. Sam has been a long-time supporter of Northern where his sons were key contributors to the school’s drama and athletic programs.