DETROIT — Growing up, Cindy Abbott never laced up a pair of hockey skates or wore lacrosse goggles.
Fast forward to the present, and Abbott has taken it upon herself to make the sports she once knew very little about more accessible for athletes of all ages and abilities.
“Driving culture and opportunities to connect within the community, all while growing and developing young people, especially young women, is special,” said Abbott, the chief executive officer of Warrior Sports. “It’s a unique opportunity.”
Because of her tireless work at Warrior, Abbott has been named the first of four Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Tigers and Comerica Bank Game Changers honorees for Women’s History Month in March.
“Cindy’s leadership represents everything we envisioned for the Game Changers initiative, serving as an inspiration for other women interested in pursuing a career directly connected to so many aspects of driving sports forward,” said Kevin Brown, director of community impact for Ilitch Sports + Entertainment. “The Red Wings are especially proud to partner year-round with Warrior Hockey on our Hockey is For Everyone platform, providing equipment and access to youth across the state of Michigan.”
Abbott, who earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and an MBA from Wayne State University, had several accounting jobs for various manufacturing and automotive companies before accepting a finance leadership position at Warrior.
Headquartered in Shelby Township, Mich., in metro Detroit, Warrior is a manufacturer of equipment, apparel and footwear for hockey and lacrosse athletes.
“What really drove me to Warrior was its culture and concept of working in a team-focused environment,” Abbott said. “And we’re only continuing to invest in the young people in our community.”
Named CEO in 2019, Abbott said that serving such a prominent role for a company that ”drives innovation and creation” is special.
“One of the things that we’ve done in the last couple of years is we’re looking at new ways to connect with other partners, like our work with the Urban Hockey Foundation,” she said.
“Warrior comes into play there through equipment donation. We also help provide access to mentorship and coaching in these communities.”
Abbott said that participating in team sports, especially for female athletes, helps people achieve their personal and physical goals.
And as a woman in the business of sports, Abbott knows her work carries implications far beyond the rink or field.
“I’m a mom and I have three girls,” Abbott said. “For me, realizing that I have an incredible opportunity here, to really drive culture in this industry, is an incredible blessing.”
When asked if she had any advice to share with the next generation of women leaders, Abbott stressed the value of hard work.
“It’s about never giving up,” Abbott said. “You have to keep on getting better. It’s about continuous improvement.”