A True Trailblaxer, Cammi Granato ’93 Is No Newcomer to Breaking Barriers
by Liam Tormey ’22
Cammi Granato ’93 has been the first to achieve a lot of things in her life. She was one of the first women to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, she was the first to captain the United States Women’s Hockey Team to an Olympic Gold Medal, and now, she is the first female scout in National Hockey League history.
Growing up in Downers Grove, IL, Granato was one of six siblings. Her household was hockey-centric, as her entire family loved the sport.
“My family had a direct impact on who I was as a person and an athlete. I grew up in a team environment. Everything was family first,” Granato said while describing her upbringing. Her brothers were very influential in shaping the hockey player she would become. Tony Granato would go on to have a very successful career in the NHL and is now the head coach of the University of Wisconsin’s Men’s Hockey Team. Her other brother, Don, is now an assistant coach for the Buffalo Sabers in the NHL.
Although it was never easy having to play with her brothers all the time, Granato admitted, “I followed my three older brothers everywhere they went. They never took it easy on me, I always had to keep up if I wanted to play.” When they started to give her a hard time, she recalls her brothers saying, “Do not tell mom.” When she was halfway up the basement stairs, ready to express her frustrations to her mother, she realized, “They will not let me play again if I do this.”
The hardships of being a woman in a male-dominated sport never made Granato back down. Her brothers helped shape her into a player who was confident enough in herself to play at the highest level. Granato says she is most appreciative of “the standard they set for me.”
Her journey came with challenges, however. As a teenager, Granato was “the only girl. [She] never played against a girl until [she] was 18.” Playing with her brothers for a club team, she had to deal with constant whispers and snickers from a whole host of people. Granato recalls getting to the rink one day only for the figure skaters to “turn off the lights on me in the bathroom and call me weird and giggle at me.”
This was only one of the many obstacles she met in the rink. Granato remembers getting intentionally blindsided on the ice one time and suffering a concussion as a result. Another time, a coach told her before the game that he would break her collarbone if she played. A teammate’s father even told Granato’s coach his son would not play if a girl was playing.
“At the same time, I was shielded by all of the noise,” said Granato. “My coach was terrific, I had my family behind me, and they all accepted me.”
Granato’s path to Providence College was one she never thought possible. It all started when another PC graduate caught her eye. Cindy Curley ’85 was Granato’s first inspiration as a woman in hockey; Curley quickly became her role model. “I knew about her when someone sent me a pamphlet in grade seven. My mom said, ‘Did you know girls played hockey in college?’ In Illinois, we had no idea that women played.”
Granato came to PC in 1989 and admitted she was homesick the first month because she was so close with her family. Everything changed when she was able to get on the ice and be with her team. “Once hockey started,” Granato said, “I realized I had this instant team and the friendships started to form. The memories for me were formed within the day-to-day.”
The records show Granato found her home at Schneider Arena. During her time at PC, she won Rookie of the Year, ECAC Player of the Year three times, and helped PC win back-to-back conference titles. She still leads the program in points (256), goals (139), and remains second in assists (117). She was inducted into the PC Hockey Hall of Fame in 2013. “Those four years were amazing,” recalled Granato.
In the 1998 Winter Olympics, there was a women’s ice hockey competition for the first time in history. Granato got the opportunity to captain the inaugural USA Women’s Hockey Team. The result: a gold medal.
“Being able to participate was surreal and being able to compete for a gold medal, who would have thought it was even possible?” Granato said. She sees playing on the Olympic team as one of her biggest accomplishments. “It doesn’t get any better than that,” she said. “The pinnacle for me, playing in the Olympics and winning the gold was incredibly memorable. It is something I am very grateful for.”
In 2010, Granato was one of first two women to ever be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. It was never her goal while playing to get into the Hall. She admits, “I never thought about that, about getting into it. I had never aspired to do it because I didn’t know it was possible.”
When the opportunity finally arrived, it meant more for her than just being inducted: “I was humbled and honored. I knew it was not just about me, it was about women. I knew there were women before me who deserved it. It was a representation for women, and I see it as a day of recognition of women. It was special.”
Granato is now the first female scout in NHL history. While living in Vancouver, she heard that Seattle was the destination for the new NHL expansion team and immediately thought it would be the perfect fit.
Rob Francis, the general manager for the Seattle Kraken, played with Granato’s husband, Ray Ferraro, and asked for Granato’s number. “He offered me the position and I just thought it was a great fit,” she recalled.
After Granato was named one of the Kraken’s scouts in 2019, Francis spoke to the media and told them that, “I know she’s a female pro scout for us, but her résumé is why she got the job— not because she’s female.”
Currently, Granato is scouting the professional players in the NHL, specifically in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference. “The position itself was super natural to me,” she said. “I love analyzing the game and that has come from being in a family of coaches and brothers who love watching game tape.” She added that “sitting up in the press box with ten other guys is not something I’m not used to.”
Granato is very excited for the opportunity to continue to be involved in the game of hockey. She says for the future, “I definitely want to stay in the game and be at the level I am at. It is really enjoyable being a part of an organization especially like Seattle. The environment is great.”
After all, hockey has been a part of Granato’s life since day one. “Hockey in general is just a part of me. I don’t know life without hockey. It’s second nature to me.” Granato says she has more goals for the future, ones she wishes to keep to herself, but for now she is happy with the balance between her family at home and her team in Seattle.
A trailblazer in every sense of the word, one can only wait and see what barrier Granato will break next.