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Amy Carney, wife of NHL Veteran Keith Carney, and mother of four, is a beautiful Sis inside and out! Amy supported her husband throughout his NHL career and, now that he is retired, is focused alongside him on their family at home in Arizona and new ventures to help fellow NHL families. She is also the newest member of the Sisters In Sports Advisory Board! Read below to learn more about Amy, her family, her favorite NHL memories, her current endeavors and what Sisterhood means to her!
1) How did you and Keith meet? Tell us a little about your family.
Keith and I met at a charity event in Chicago. In Indiana, I was a sportswriter-editor, yet I had never gone to a hockey game in my life. Little did I know that this sport would soon be the focus of my future. Keith and I were married in Chicago in 1998. We have 13-year-old triplet sons and a 12-year-old daughter. Yes, birthing four children in 18 months with a husband playing in the NHL certainly posed for some interesting years!
2) After a hockey career that spanned almost 20 years, what are you and Keith up to these days?
Keith retired in 2009 before working for the Chicago Blackhawks as their Player Development Coach for 3 seasons. He resigned from this position so that we could take a family sabbatical for the last 6 months of 2014 to travel the USA by motor home. We pulled the kids out of middle school and off of their competitive traveling sports teams to reconnect as a family. It was amazing and challenging, all at the same time.
Upon our return to our home in Paradise Valley, Arizona, we have begun a journey into Sports Life Coaching with Patterson Sports Ventures. Upon our Fall certification, our hope is to help NHL families transition from playing into retirement. I plan to hold seminars, retreats and build community within the NHL wives community. Keith will also be staying home for now to coach our sons U14 AAA hockey team as I continue to model and freelance/blog on my website. We are super excited about this next season for our family!
3) Part of the mission of Sis is to connect Sisters across all sports. Tell us about Sisterhood friendships that have supported you through the years. Any favorite memories?
Each team that we were a part of holds special memories personally. With each move I realized how important my female connections were to my own success and well being. Those girls that took the time to reach out and help me navigate each new city will always hold a special place in my heart. Our SiSters help guide us to where we should live and where is best to put our kids in school. These women were essential in my journey. We have laughed with one another and we have shed tears together. It’s a bond that we will always have and the memories always make me smile as it’s the community of girls that made a difference in my life, more than Keith’s accolades on the ice.
4) What about favorite memories on the ice?
I would say celebrating Keith’s 1000th game together in Minnesota is my most special memory. I was so proud of him for that accomplishment and it was fun to have all of his family come in from Rhode Island to surprise him. The on-ice ceremony was special and the party after the game was even better as we celebrated with all of our teammates, family and friends.
5) What do you consider to be the biggest rewards and, on the other hand, challenges, of being an NHL wife?
One of the biggest rewards that we receive as a wife of a professional athlete is that we are handed our own platform with an ability to make a difference in people’s lives, if we are willing. We are fortunate to always be surrounded by a team of women that we can reach out to that are experiencing the same things.
The life of a pro athlete can certainly be challenging as we navigate the loneliness of transition and moves, which in turn means giving up our own careers and altering the lives of our children. Embracing change and finding positive community were my keys to success as an NHL wife. My husband, and our children, relied on me for strength and the ability to handle change positively.
6) How did you find your own purpose amidst keeping up with Keith’s playing schedule?
It was always important to me to keep a keen sense of self throughout Keith’s career. I never wanted to find myself living for his dream or career. This is why I want to start a community of NHL wives that support and encourage each other to remember who we are as individuals outside of our husband’s demanding job. It is an amazing gift that we are afforded the luxury to stay at home with our children and even afford help with them if that’s what we want. It’s extremely important to try and keep a sense of self and remember what we can bring to the table as well. When I was able, I always held sales jobs or part time work that I could do from home. Doing this allowed me a purpose of my own and it was also a great way for me to meet people when I moved to new teams and cities!
7) Constant relocation in sports can be tough on families. Keith’s career has moved your family many times. How did you manage the relocation process? How did you help your children adjust to new settings?
I feel fortunate that we only had three major moves. I quickly learned to look at every move as a blessing and believe that every trade to every new team was exactly where we were meant to be. I started traditions for our family to help us focus on the positives. I would throw my own packing party and have friends come over and help me pack up, as we laughed and chatted while performing the daunting task together. When I got to my new city and unpacked, it would make me smile to read the notes they had each written on every box they had helped pack. New found friendships are the biggest blessings of moving around!
Before our family said goodbye to our homes, the six of us would sit on our empty kitchen floor and toast sparkling cider together, pray and talk about the blessings we had experienced there and what we wanted to do when we got to our new city. We then each released a balloon into the sky toward our new home and off we went. I found keeping everything positive helped all of us through all of our transitions. Our kids were young when we were moving around so it was easier.
I believe professional sports families are close because they rely on each other. Home is wherever you are all together. Everyone learns flexibility and adjusts well to change.
8) How did you spend your offseason?
We have a summer home in Dana Point, California as we wanted to set ourselves up for retirement in between two places that we called home during 9 years of Keith’s career. Arizona is way too hot to spend summer here and California is way too busy to live full time. We are blessed to have the best of both worlds right now.
9) What charities or causes do you and Keith support?
Our family spent the past couple of years taking in foster children to live with us. We are very drawn to underserved, underprivileged local youth. Our family also does mission work in Valladolid, Mexico and serves locally with St. Vincent dePaul on a regular basis. We like to involve our four children in our philanthropy.
10) If you had to choose one piece of advice for new athlete wives, what would it be? What about for wives nearing the transition into retirement?
I smile thinking of the new athlete wives and my own journey. Girls, be ready to go with the flow. Enjoy each day and don’t forget to laugh along the way. Rely on your community of girls and let them help you and then be ready to do the same for those that follow in your footsteps. Know who you are and what makes you happy and then do what you need to do to set yourself up for success personally, professionally and philanthropically.
Now I smile as I’m one of the wives in retirement. Forget all the trades and moves, this is the toughest transition of all. Start preparing yourself mentally and financially for the end of his career. This is why it’s extremely important to have other interests and goals outside of sport. Your husband, too, will be wandering aimlessly around your kitchen every day sometime soon. This transition is inevitable so the earlier you work on a retirement game plan the better. It is tough but it is also very rewarding if you stay true to who you are and have a family goal plan in place. This is why I’m so excited to work with families headed down this path!
11) What are your thoughts on the importance of a community like Sis? How do you think Sis can be a resource to the “better halves” in sports?
I would’ve loved to had known about Sis when we were still in the game. I love a strong community of women who can be a resource for one another. I really hadn’t realized how alike we all are no matter what sport we may find ourselves in. I look forward to being a part of Sis’s future and helping to spread the word on how we can all come together and be a force of community for one another! Look forward to meeting you soon my Sisters!