The IX: Hockey Friday with Erica L. Ayala, August 28, 2020

Women's hockey must enter the classroom — Roundtable on racial justice training in women's hockey — Links

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It’s time to Enter the Classroom

What can I say?

What else can I say?

My job at The IX is to bring you women’s hockey news. Well, I’m not going to write anything that isn’t talking about social justice. As it turns out, when it comes to hockey? That pretty much means writing nothing at all.

If there are any other writers talking about racism and racial equality in women’s hockey, I haven’t met them. That is slightly exaggerated because there was this great piece by Sonny Sachdeva that came out last month.

I want to see women’s hockey do better. I want to see women’s hockey media do better. To me, that looks like having conversations. I have had a few private conversations with players. What it showed me is there is a lot of learning that has to be done.

In one conversation, I explained to a hockey player that one must take great care when comparing what the WNBA and NBA did — refusing to play games — to the women’s hockey movement. I will never argue with the fact that women’s hockey has taken its lumps and continues to do so.

However, the refusal of the Milwaukee Bucks to play an NBA playoff game was directly related to yet another Black body being peppered with bullets. There is no comparing that to a lack of hockey tape or postgame meals. None.

Other conversations over time have been to challenge the hockey community to push beyond performative acts. T-shirts and fundraisers are an entry point, but they alone don’t end racism. It’s the same for cancer walks. Those don’t cure cancer, they give everyday people a way to raise money for research or support services.

With racism, donations to places like the YWCA or Equal Justice Initiative are critical, but racism is the responsibility of all of us. Sure, specialists can educate, but only if we have audiences who show up to learn. Women’s hockey needs to show up in the classroom.

The shutdown caused by COVID-19 has shown that conversation and learning can happen virtually and at a minimal cost. Although I personally think Bauer, CCM, and the like should be pouring resources into such learning activities, they can still happen with little to no budget.

WoHo needs to not use small budgets or “small platforms” as excuses to not have a comprehensive educational plan. Here are some ideas:

  • Instead of IG Lives about workouts, host a community conversation about Black-owned businesses, as the Connecticut Sun did.

  • Create player features that highlight players of color regularly, and not just when the country is reminded that racism still exists.


  • Educate players, coaches, and staff on race theory through training and workshops

This week’s Five at The IX will be a mash-up of hockey players being asked about hockey culture. I spoke to Sarah Nurse, Nina Rogers, Sarah Bryant, and Jillian Dempsey at the beginning of the year for a story that never came to be. Now seemed like the right time to share some of these quotes.

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This Week in Women’s Hockey

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The following clips are all the stories I could find about women’s hockey and social justice from this week:

The Ice Garden calls for more action in Women’s Hockey.

Yeah, not great. A media blackout would certainly not work in hockey. Reporters have already initiated one.

Tweet of the Week

It’s the “period” for me.

Five at The IX: Sarah Nurse, Nina Rogers, Sarah Bryant, and Jillian Dempsey

This week Five at the IX will be a mash-up of hockey players being asked about hockey culture. I spoke to Sarah Nurse, Nina Rogers, Sarah Bryant, and Jillian Dempsey at the beginning of the year for a story that never came to be. Now seemed like the right time to share some of these quotes.

Sarah Bryant was introduced to race theory while obtaining her masters in education. I asked if she thought some of what she learned in grad school could find its way to the hockey community?

Um, I mean, I feel like is one of those things where is, you know, you have to ask, Is it something that we need to, to kind of do on a bureaucratic level, like have organizations organizational meetings and discussions about this? Or is it something that’s more of a grassroots like, individuals coming in and being like, Hey, I just like, want to talk to my teammates about this because it’s important to me. Like, where’s the best place to start that I really don’t know. I think one thing that needs to happen … is just having more folks of color around you know, having more folks of color playing hockey, having more folks a feller, coaching hockey more, just like in every aspect of hockey because the more you have those people around, the more you get to know what their lives are like? What sorts of things should I not say? And what should I say instead? Like what language should I be using stuff?

Because it’s, honestly it’s kind of hard to start a conversation and not say that it shouldn’t be started, but it’s hard to start a conversation amongst a group of white people about race Unless they’re very willing participants in it, like a lot of times conversation will get shut down. They’ll be like, why are we talking about this?

Nina Rodgers reflects on whether mandated coaching units of race, diversity, and inclusion would be beneficial

Yeah, I think that’d be a good idea. Something that gets both ends of the (age) spectrum, like teaching the kids how to grow up thinking about it and teaching adults to think, ‘Oh, I gotta know this if I don’t already. I have to start thinking of it in this way.’

I definitely commit like, being part of those clinics, if those ever come about. I think I have an interesting life history with being part of a white family, but being Black. So being able to be in tune with both sides. And being the one gay person in my family … I’d definitely commit to being part of those conversations.

Sarah Nurse on the importance of all hockey players being better allies

Obviously, education is so important. One of my best friends is Bridgette Lacquette who was the first Indigenous girl to play on Team Canada and so even I have questions about her background and her different situation. But I feel comfortable enough to be able to go to her and actually have those conversations. Again, for a lot of people, it is very uncomfortable and they don’t really know how to approach it. But they don’t understand that just asking the question means so much more than not asking the question.

I think if you look at women’s hockey, it’s so diverse already. First of all, we’re females playing a predominantly male sport. You know, there are people, minorities, there are people in the LGBTQ community, that are part of the women’s hockey family. So we already have a vast diversity that a lot of other sports and organizations really don’t have.

Jillian Dempsey on struggling to address microaggressions among peers.

There are a couple of jokes that get made in the locker room where, you know, some people find it funny, and some people don’t.

A specific one I can think of involved Blake (Bolden) … some of the people who were in it are laughing and trying to connect, but it really wasn’t funny to Blake. Other people could recognize like, ‘Hey. You shouldn’t really say that,’ but it was difficult to find how to intercede there and how to say, ‘Hey, let’s not make those jokes.’ So I think sometimes it is hard to speak up and say, ‘That joke didn’t feel right or that joke is not appropriate.’

It is much harder to do among peers and in the locker room than it is as an educator.

All the athletes spoke about finding it difficult to challenge microaggressions made at them or other teammates. This might be the place the women’s hockey community needs to start.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon  Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By Carly Grenfell, @Carlygren
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster

Written by Erica L. Ayala