Celebrating Black women in hockey history

JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images

This week UNINTERRUPTED Canada announced LeBron James, Maverick Carter, Drake, and Adel ‘Future’ Nur will serve as Executive Producers for “Black Ice” a full-length feature documentary following the “history, influence, and racialized journey of Black hockey players and explores the topic of systemic racism in the game.” 

“This project presents a rich opportunity to explore a remarkable part of sports history,” said Chief Content Officer Vinay Virmani. “Despite the hardships and struggles, this story is about resilience and how society views itself today while offering a path forward to a more equitable and inclusive future.”

According to the press release announcing the project, “The film will explore the journey of Black hockey players from the creation of The Colored Hockey League of the Maritimes to the modern-day NHL, highlighting their often overlooked and marginalized contributions to the game.”

But by defining the present-day journey of Black hockey players through the National Hockey League, will “Black Ice” discuss Black women? Several Black women have made NHL history. At a minimum, those women should be included. Here is a starter list:

NHL Black History Month Truck Tour
LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 26: Blake Bolden at the Black Hockey History Museum before the game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Los Angeles Kings at STAPLES Center on February 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images)

Black women in NHL history 

  • Sheila Johnson, the first Black woman owner in the NHL. She also owns stakes in the Washington Wizards and 2019 WNBA Champions, the Washington Mystics. 
  • Blake Bolden, the first and only Black woman working as an NHL scout. Bolden was also the first Black player to play in the National Women’s Hockey League. She and the Boston Pride won the inaugural Isobel Cup in 2016, making her the first Black woman to win an NWHL championship. 
  • Kim Davis is the Executive Vice President, Social Impact, Growth Initiatives & Legislative Affairs for the NHL. 
  • Renee Hess founded the Black Girl Hockey Club to create a safe an inclusive space in hockey. While the BGHC started primarily for NHL fans, the organization has grown to impact diversity in other leagues and at the grassroots level.

Of course, the contributions of Black men and women are not limited to the NHL, and no story about Black hockey is complete without discussing other professional leagues, college hockey, and the international stage. Here are a few other Black women to consider:

Hockey Hall of Fame Induction
TORONTO, ON – NOVEMBER 08: (L-R) Angela James and Cammi Granato share a moment looking at their new Hall rings at the media opportunity prior to their induction ceremony at the Hockey Hall of Fame on November 8, 2010 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Black women in hockey history

  • Doxie McCoy was a founder of the Boston College Women’s Ice Hockey Club team, which turned into the women’s varsity team where Bolden herself played.
  • Angela James, the first and only Black woman inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. She was the first Black player to compete for Hockey Canada in the International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championships. James is now an assistant coach for the Toronto Six in the NWHL, making her the first Black woman coach in the history of the league. 
  • Sarah Nurse was the first Black player on the Wisconsin women’s hockey team. In 2018, she became the first Black Canadian to compete on the Olympic team, winning silver. Nurse competes for the Toronto hub of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA). 

This is far from an exhaustive list of Black women in hockey, or even those with direct NHL ties. The editorial team behind “Black Ice” should be able to find women at all levels changing the game. 

Will they? Well, we went ahead and asked!

Black Ice will include and profile the journey of many prominent and up and coming Black female players and their contributions not only to the game but the impact they are making at the grassroots level,” said Virmani in a statement provided via email. 

Time will tell how the aforementioned women and others will be highlighted in the new project. What is clear? They deserve to be more than an afterthought in the film and its marketing. 

Follow Erica L. Ayala on Twitter @Elindsay08

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