The IX Hockey Friday with Erica L. Ayala, April 10, 2020
The truth about racism in hockey - Interview with Nadine Muzerall - must-click WoHo links
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The truth about racism in hockey
In case you missed it, the Rangers hosted a Q&A with prospect K’Andre Miller, a 20-year-old Black player, and someone popped into the chat and typed the word “Nigger” repeatedly (For the record, I’m not typing the word in full because I am Black, I find that “logic” ridiculous. I typed it because that is what K’Andre and 500 fans saw repeatedly in a Rangers-sanctioned chat).
The Rangers took several minutes to disable the chat and several hours to craft the following response:
The NHL also released a statement:
I saw a lot of people saying “whoever did this isn’t a real hockey fan” and other well-intentioned bullshit. Yes, it’s bullshit!
People who use racist and sexist language are mothers, sons, daughters, and fathers. They are teachers, doctors, high-profile politicians, and your favorite neighbor. These are real people who have real names. And, they are most definitely hockey fans (coaches, players, owners).
Sidenote: I’ve spoken to several folks with information on this ongoing investigation and for some reason, there are NHL employees who think because the IP address is believed to come from outside of the United States, there is no reason to address the issue. AS IF THE COUNTRY OF ORIGIN IS THE FREAKING POINT!
I get it, you want to separate racism from decency or humanity. That’s the problem! We cannot pop racism like an unflattering pimple on the face of society. Racism exists in our DNA.
If you don’t believe me, that’s also a problem. One’s lack of exposure to something does not mean it doesn’t exist.
If you are uncomfortable reading this, good. I won’t make this topic “easy” for anyone. I don’t get a “trigger warning” when I walk down the street that I might run into someone who is going to catcall me, or assume the worst about me because of my skin color.
With all this free time from sports, I would love to see literally ANY sports team, league, or owner take the time to learn how to address racism and implicit bias in their work culture. We make excuses for not learning about racism. Well, what is the excuse right now?
If you want to tap into your own bias (we all have it, no use pretending we don’t), here are a few tools I recommend:
Follow Black Girl Hockey Club
WATCH or read Indian Horse
Read Dr. Courtney Szto’s Policy Paper for Anti-Racism in Canadian Hockey
Follow The Color of Hockey. William Douglas writes stories about players of color, now on NHL.com
WATCH Soul on Ice: Past, Present and Future
WATCH the 2019 Roundtable on Racism in Hockey at Queens University
Hockey culture can be better, but it will take all of us. Use these resources and apply generously!
This week in Women’s Hockey
A reminder that clicking links curated by The IX catches the eye of outlets. If we want more WoHo coverage, we have to support WoHo writers.
Meghan Duggan subs in for Danvers PE teacher diagnosed with coronavirus.
Last week we featured Princeton head coach Cara Morey, hear from her players about the abrupt ending to the season.
#TheOriginalEight series continues. Listen to Kaleigh Fratkin talk about her NWHL journey.
Will Florence Schelling’s historic hiring lead to more women in positions of power?
The Athletic offers the Top 50 hockey Twitter accounts to follow (I must have been #51).
Broadcaster Kelly Schultz puts her passion to work sewing masks during pandemic.
From THW to the NWHL: Allie LaCombe’s Wild & Winding Road.
Tweet of the Week
This was SO much fun! And Sarah Nurse & Anya Packer rolled through earlier.
Five at The IX: Ohio State head coach Nadine Muzerall Part I
Nadine and I went LONG, so I’m gonna break up our interview. The first part will be about her hockey journey leading up to accepting the head coaching role at The Ohio State University.
How did you get involved in hockey? How central was hockey to your childhood?
Growing up outside of Toronto, hockey was our thing. Of course, girls hockey wasn’t that big at the time and it wasn’t as fast growing as it is now. I have an older brother Darren, and whatever Darren did I wanted to do … so, in order for me to play hockey, I had to play with the boys. I was the only girl in the league, in the entire league.
My parents separated when I was pretty young, at three years old. And so my mom, to this day, does not have her (driver’s) license. So every Saturday morning at five o’clock, my mom would wake us up, I would have to get dressed in my full equipment. My poor brother had to wake up to because he was, you know, eight when I was five. I would put my helmet and everything on … we would pull up my mom’s green bike and it had this like purple seat. I mean, it’s definitely illegal nowadays to have a kid on the back of this thing … I would sit on the back of my mom’s bike, my full equipment with the hockey stick across my lap, and my boots on. My brother would get on his BMX bike with a backpack with my skates in it. And we would bike every Saturday morning, it was still dark out … the rink that was like three to five miles away every Saturday morning so I could play.
And so when we talk about words like grateful at The Ohio State, I remind my kids that story. I was the first female hockey player inducted into Minnesota Hall of Fame and you know what my mom bought me? It was the bicycle! And on the card, it was a beach cruiser, and on the card, it said ‘This is how it all began.
I’m just curious, as you tell that story, do you see any parallels between how your hockey journey started and how you impart passion, wisdom, and knowledge of the sport to others?
I agree fully, I do think it’s parallel. I mean, I grew up with, like I said, a single mom. A mom that sometimes had to work two jobs. But it grew my brother and I have an appreciation and value hard work and in value being grateful the things that didn’t come so easy. And that’s how I played. I played relentless I played … like I always had to prove something and I think that’s because I was the only girl playing boys all the way up until about 12 years old.
You can tell, that’s that in my style of playing and as a coach. You know, our team plays that relentless, chip on the shoulder style, you know. And so, those are those are the qualities that we want to have in our our young woman that we have in our program. I mean, I actually played for Laura Halldorson, as you know, and Laura is so humble and modest. It’s like, I had a Digit Murphy mentality playing for Laura Halldorson. I think it was good for coach and good for me, you know, that we were vastly different in many ways. But at the end, common goal, the nucleus was the same. Be kind, treat each other with respect, and be grateful.
You played and coached at Minnesota with folks like Laura and Brad Frost. The Ohio State, if we can be blunt, was a program with a lot of challenges. What made you say yes to the head coaching opportunity?
I had emails and texts and voicemails from Diana Sabou. I’m telling my husband Ryan Ohio State keeps calling me. And he looks at me. He’s like, ‘What about?’ and I’m like, ‘Well, there’s a vacancy in the head coaching position for women’s hockey.’ He goes, ‘Are you out of your flippin mind? It doesn’t get any better than that!’
My husband played football at Minnesota. He’s, he’s a football guy. So I said, ‘Okay well, Ryan, Yes, they’re well known for football but not women’s ice hockey.’Then he says to me, ‘Well, change that.’
Honestly … when I was I was at the boarding school … I was there for seven years and probably five years too long. I just became complacent … and I started to feel like at Minnesota. I have all my best friends around from college. My husband had all his friends after college. We’re building a house … it was fun, but I know there was no movement up … I was kind of stuck in a position with not a lot of movement. And I had a bad feeling like I did at the boarding school. An opportunity comes knocking you’re crazy if you don’t take it, especially when it’s the Ohio State.
So I went, and you know what, the are facilities not good looking. That’s probably our biggest handicap. But you know what? I’m that girl that’s on the back of a bicycle at 5:30 in the morning when it’s still dark out. So, I looked at Ohio State as the house that I was building. It had a great foundation, it just needed to be remodeled.