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PHF Commissioner Tyler Tumminia's passion and sports background is leading to major improvements in her hockey league

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Michelle Jay
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PHF Commissioner Tyler Tumminia speaks at the All-Star game in Buffalo

The Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) is more than doubling salary caps for each of the six current teams and adding two expansion franchises next season, including Montreal. The welcomed news is thanks to an infusion of $25 million over the next three years by the PHF's Board of Governors.

The PHF continues to grow under the leadership of veteran sports executive and owner Tyler Tumminia. Tumminia took over as PHF Commissioner in 2020.

Tumminia joined SportsJam with Doug Doyle to talk about the league's advancement, her amazing career and her sports-oriented family which includes her husband Ben Cherington who is the GM of the MLB's Pittsburgh Pirates.

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Doug Doyle/Zoom
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Tyler Tumminia chats with SportsJam host Doug Doyle

Tumminia, who joined the show while attending the All-Star game in Buffalo, says she's thrilled about the latest developments in the PHF.

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Michelle Jay
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The PHF All-Star game was in Buffalo, NY.

"When I took over 18 months ago, there was a lot of work that we had to do in order to take the league to the next level. And that started with getting new owners and we had to that do that rather quickly. It's because of the Board of Governors that were able to sit here today. It's been many many discussions over the last couple of months about where we are heading in the next three to five years. I'm very pleased to announce the backing and trust of the Board of Governors with this capital infusion going directly to the players. They've announced that $25 million over the next three years, seven and a half of that will be allocated to Season 8 which will start in October, directly relating to the players' salaries, bringing that salary cap to $75 thousand. When I started here the salary cap was $150 thousand."

The upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Beijing will also help promote the PHF and women's hockey in general.

"It's so important the Olympics for our league just for brand awareness and interest. A lot of our success is attributed to the fact we are in an Olympic year."

Tumminia's extensive sports background came primarily in baseball, starting off with her father John being a long-time scout for the Chicago White Sox. In 2004, she joined the Goldklang Group, a sports entertainment consulting and management firm. Goldklang operates several Minor League Baseball teams, including the Hudson Valley Renegades, Charleston RiverDogs, St. Paul Saints, Pittsfield Suns and previously the Fort Myers Miracle. She was promoted to the company in February of 2011.

Tumminia remains part-owner of one Minor League club and baseball is still very much in her blood. Tyler says her father named her after the Hall of Fame baseball player Ty Cobb.

"Ty Cobb is really Tyrus. My dad was a fan of Ty Cobb for his on-field grit and aggressive way he played the game. It was back in the day, they didn't know if I was going to be a boy or girl, so it was definitely going to be Tyler no matter what. My sister's name is Brooks after Brooks Robinson."

So, when did hockey come into play for Tyler Tumminia? She admits being a "rink rat"growing up with her sister. They both were figure skating while their father was lacing up hockey skates.

With all that executive experience at the ball park through the years, Tumminia she says was ready for a new venture.

"I wanted to jump from baseball to women's hockey for the leadership challenge. This was unlike anything I could script out, going into a pandemic. These athletes at the PHF really deserve everything that they are trying to do. They really take personal ownership into growing this game."

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Michelle Jay
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The PHF All-Star Game in Buffalo showed off the great talent in the league

Once on the list of the 25 Most Influential Women in Sports, Tumminia has brought new opportunities to the PHF through television contracts and sports trading card deals. She takes her role as female commissioner very seriously.

"It's my life's mission to elevate women as fast and as hard as I can to executive role positions. I feel more passionate about that than anything else. I had great mentors in my baseball career."

She expressed confidence that her husband, Ben Cherington, will also turn around the fortunes of the struggling Pittsburgh Pirates in Major League Baseball.

"He's definitely got a scout's eye. I am very impressed by him just from a professional standpoint. And so I think if you have some patience in that Pittsburgh market, you'll see a great reward."

Cherington took over as GM of the Pirates in 2019.

Ben and Tyler have two young athletic daughters. Adwen (9) and Harper (7) both play hockey, soccer and swim.

You can see the entire SportsJam conversation with Tyler Tumminia here.

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Doug Doyle has been News Director at WBGO since 1998 and has taken his department to new heights in coverage and recognition. Doug and his staff have received more than 200 awards from organizations like PRNDI, AP, New York Association of Black Journalists, Garden State Association of Black Journalists and the New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists.