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LEAH HEXTALL

Broadcaster - Speaker - Emcee

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“First” is a word often associated with Leah Hextall, who is blazing a trail for women in sports and beyond.

The National Hockey League Broadcaster is the first female to call play-by-play commentary for a nationally televised NHL game as part of Sportsnet’s first all-female broadcast team. Hextall also made history as the first woman to call an NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Championship game for ESPN in 2019.

In the face of convention and, on occasion - harassment, Hextall stands on a stage, at the podium, or behind the microphone, reminding anyone who can hear that she is not one of the boys and inviting more women to join her.

A veteran broadcaster of nearly 20 years, Hextall has worked for the largest sports networks in North America. However, it took Hextall being laid off and pivoting to a career in politics before she reinvented herself and began her pursuit to become a professional play-by-play commentator. Hextall’s personal story of perseverance is filled with intimidating and uplifting moments. Owning her own her uniqueness, asking for the opportunity, and overcoming obstacles are just some of the steps on her journey.

A native of Brandon, Manitoba, Hextall graduated from the Columbia Academy of Radio, Television and Recording Arts in Vancouver in 2003. She worked for CTV Winnipeg from 2005 to 2012 and for NESN as host of NESN Today from 2012-14. In 2016, Hextall pursued a career in hockey play-by-play, making her debut calling the Canadian Women’s Hockey League games in 2018.

Hextall’s hockey heritage is noteworthy, beginning with her grandfather, Bryan Hextall, who is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. In addition, her cousin Ron was a goalie with the Philadelphia Flyers and currently serves as general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins, while her uncles, Bryan and Dennis, have had NHL playing careers that span more than 20 seasons.

In 2021, Hextall joined the ESPN broadcast team where she serves as a commentator and reporter for NHL games.



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NOT ONE OF THE BOYS

Keynote Speech "TCS Live" June 2022

Last season, Leah Hextall became the first woman to call NHL play-by-play full-time for a national network. 
Ever.
She’s also the first woman to call play-by-play for a nationally televised NHL game, the first to call an NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Championship game, and the first to do play-by-play for the Men’s NCAA Division I Hockey Tournament.
Hextall is a trailblazer and when the ESPN commentator speaks, well, she always has something important to say.
That was especially the case when she spoke as one of the headliners at TCS Live, hockey’s premiere coaching conference, this past June at the University of Michigan.
What Hextall had to say is raw, emotional and shocking, but sadly not surprising. She and I grew up in the same hometown and were coworkers way back in the day, so it was extra sad to hear that a friend of mine, a shooting star breaking barriers in the NHL broadcast booth, was being treated this way. 
Play-by-play commentators often feel like friends to us all. They’re with us during some of the most memorable sports moments of our lives. Be prepared to feel as gutted as I still do when you watch the video below. ~  Derek Jory, The Coaches Site

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TESTIMONIALS

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While I was flattered that Leah chose our stage to share her story, I was also aware of the scrutiny she was likely bringing upon herself. If there is one thing you don’t do in hockey, it’s speak out. Or rock the boat. Or challenge the status quo.

It wasn’t lost on me how much courage it was going to take to be completely vulnerable in a room full of mostly men. Let alone have the video of her talk shared with the entire hockey community and sports world at large.

But the day came, and I watched as Leah confidently walked on stage. I was unsure how our audience would react, but I trusted her words would resonate with them. When she finished, they gave her a standing ovation. ~ Aaron Wilbur, Coaches Site Founder

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If you want to wake up your audience to take a chance and live up to their potential, Leah's captivating keynote is sure to deliver. Rated as one of SHEday 2019's top speakers - Leah owned the stage delivering a riveting, engaging and authentic account of how to soar with your strengths and deliver on your dreams...simply inspiring! ~ Marina James, SHEDay Founder

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Leah Hextall was a reporter for ESPN's coverage of the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto. Leah did an outstanding job handling multiple assignments during the tournament. Her interviews were insightful and got great answers from the players. She had great knowledge of the history of the tournament and the teams that she reported in game that differentiated our coverage. She was great to work with and had a great work ethic. I believe she can be asset to any broadcast team. ~ Bill Graff, ESPN Sr. Coordinating Producer

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We had Leah as our keynote speaker for our Junior A Hockey Sportsman’s Dinner - she was amazing! Her message of perseverance, commitment and encouragement was excellent and inspiring to all in attendance!  Her message was high energy, witting and captivating!  We would highly recommend Leah to anyone looking for a motivational speaker. ~ Debra Kasprick, Neepawa Titans Board Member

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Leah is a hard working, informed, and articulate sports broadcaster. I had the opportunity to work with her in my role as performance trainer with Rogers SN NHL. Her work on the desk, hosting hockey broadcasts and panel discussions, was excellent -- always on point and dynamic. While already established and experienced, she took direction well in an effort to continually build on her skills. I was also able to work indirectly with her on a number of feature profiles she reported, and I was equally impressed with her acumen in that role. It's worth noting that she is particularly strong at conducting meaningful interviews. Her intelligence and enthusiasm combine to make her a natural fit for any pro sports broadcasting market ~ Bob Babinski, Performance Trainer

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