In early 1977, the New York Islanders stunned the world of professional sports with the announcement that Barbara Williams had been appointed an official coach on the staff of the NHL team. The millennium had arrived: a woman in major league professional hockey.
Barbara was also the official skating coach to the NHL New Jersey Devils. She has trained four NHL farm teams and hundreds of pros privately.
She published her first book, More Power to your Skating (Macmillan Publishers). Her next book, Positive Power, is scheduled for release in late 2011.
Barbara has also created a clothing line aptly called “Positive Power,” and has written three movie scripts.
We caught up with Barbara, who continues to live life by her own words – positively.
“Since 1977, my life has been a whirlwind. I have never stopped skating. I currently skate six hours a day on Long Island.”
“Many people ask me how I started coaching hockey, when I came from a figure skating and speed skating background. Sometimes I ask myself that same question. In 1977, I was director of the figure skating school at Racquet and Rink in Farmingdale, Long Island. That was where the NY Islanders practiced. One morning I went into the rink to watch the team. Bobby Nystrom, a NY Islander, skated over to me and asked me to watch him skate to see if I could help him be a better skater. I was shocked that a professional player would ask me to train him. That day, my life changed forever, and history was made. Al Arbour, the NY Islander coach, named me their official skating coach.
“I currently have quite a few students in the NHL, but my true love and passion is working with children. They are like sponges. They listen to everything I say and absorb it because they have such respect for me. I tell them to always think positive, keep their marks up in school, respect their parents, but most of all, say their prayers every night and thank God for their parents and their health.
“Who would have thought a little figure skater from Brooklyn, New York
would wind up in the National Hockey League?”
Barbara Williams lives on Long Island. She has three children: Randy, Tommy and Cyndee Giresi. A skater since the age of five, she’s one of only a few women with her own hockey school. Barbara was inducted into the Suffolk County Sports Hall of Fame on February 3, 2011.