The IX: Hockey Friday with Erica L. Ayala, December 4, 2020

Waiting on Black Rosie — Interview with Sonjia Shelly — Must-click women's hockey links

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Still waiting on Black Rosie

The Minnesota Whitecaps and Riveters unveiled their new jersey designs this week and they are pretty, PRETTY sweet. However, there was a small pang of disappointment when I noticed the Riveters logo continues to normalize fair skin on team logos.

I know there was a push to diversify the Riveters logo to be more diverse by current Riveters defender and co-captain Rebecca “Moose” Morse. I also know that a handful of people in the greater hockey community were asked to give feedback on a mockup of “Black Rosie”, as I like to call her.

While I am not sure who was consulted or what everyone said, I can report that one consultant was concerned any change in the logo might be perceived as “blackface”. While I understand the concern, I have always felt that was unwarranted.

Here’s the thing, black women did serve during World War II. If not for racism, the iconic logos by Norman Rockwell and other might more closely resemble women already working and serving the United States.

“Rosie the Riveter” is a character from a piece of art. For me, that means that she can be (NOT TO MENTION SHE HAS BEEN) interpreted in various ways. I continue to believe that there is absolutely a way that the NWHL can and should honor the full history of Rosie the Riveter. I hope we see this, especially as the 2021 season will be in action during the very beginning of Black History Month.

Over the years, I have found ways in my role as an NWHL analyst to celebrate #BlackHistoryMonth and share the stories of Black women and Women of Color in the league. I would like to the league to do more of this for the sake of their players, their staff/consultants, their fans, and the fight for equity.

Speaking of: the NWHL has partnered with Black Girl Hockey Club on a new line of merchandise. The Equity vs. Equality collection. Through Sunday, 50% of proceeds from this line will go to BGHC. As of now, the designs appear to be available only for the four teams (Buffalo, Connecticut, Minnesota and the Riveters) still owned by the league.

When I reached out to the league, I learned the BGHC partnership is specifically with Women’s Hockey Partners, the entity that owns the four aforementioned teams. The Boston Pride plan to work with S.C.O.R.E Boston (I’m a HUGE fan, please give them a follow) on a similar project. I will pass along more details about potential plans for the Toronto Six once I learn more.

This line comes after the NWHL diversified its helmet silhouette to include different textures of hair in partnership with NWSL rookie Tziarra King. It cannot go unsaid that these moves to be inclusive are leaps and bounds more than we usually get. I will add, more diverse hockey swag is only a start. It must come with more storytelling, more community work, and more explicitly anti-racist language.

Now, some might read this and say, “Hey Erica, they are trying. Can’t you just be satisfied?”

In short, no.

Why should I be? I’ve lived my life having to see the world with white as the default. With seeing men as the default. That leaves little room for me to see me in the world, even a world where BIPOC women are hockey players, sports analysts, and Rosies, too!


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This Week in Women’s Hockey

DO YOU BELIEVE IN MORE COVERAGE FOR WOMEN IN SPORTS? Good, click these links and show decision-makers that if you post it, we will read it! If you have any hot tips for great stories or voices you’d like to see in The IX, email me: erica@ericaLayala.com.

Must-Click Links

Penn State is off to a strong start.

Seattle Kraken host Q&A during Disabled Hockey Week.

DeBlois And Abstreiter earn Hockey East honors after sweep of Boston College.

Adirondack region is preparing to host the NWHL season.

Brigette Lacquette remembers Fred Sasakamoose.

Women’s hockey holiday gift guide.

Emma Woods talks Toronto Six and NWHL Season 6.

Hailey Salvian & Scott Power talk to Kendall Coyne Schofield about her new role.

Wisconsin avenges loss to OSU, splits series.

Staff at The Ice Garden reacts to NWHL bubble season.

Riveters pick up additional defender.

The NWHL unveils the 2021 Season logo.

Upcoming Events

  • December 7th – Authentic Engagement with BIPOC Youth. I will be moderating!


Tweet of the Week

It’s the #NDubble! I don’t make the rules.


Five at The IX: Riveters Goalie Sonjia Shelly

After one season in Connecticut, Sonjia Shelly is back for her second pro season with a new team. Catch the full interview here! Photo: NWHL/Bryan Johnson

Sonjia! How are you? Where are you? You know what’s what’s the vibe been like since March?

Right? I know I’ve definitely been missing seeing you around the rink, Erica and just seeing everybody consistently around the rink lately. It’s been hard to do with COVID. Obviously, we can’t practice as much, we can’t see people as much so it makes it very hard for everybody. But I’ve been doing really well considering just trying to see people when I can being safe at the same time.

What were your expectations of the NWHL? Now having one season under your belt, how did those expectations match up with the reality of being able to play your first pro season?

I honestly didn’t have any solid plans to play. So it wasn’t really on my mind when I first committed to Connecticut. But when I finally did, and I did a bit more research, I definitely saw that there were really like you said tremendous goalies on the Connecticut Whale and they have a great history of having very strong goalies there. So at first it was kind of daunting, because I definitely wanted to fill those shoes and play well. And I did what I could the first season. It was definitely a little nerve wracking at first, but I think I was able to transition from college into the pro level. All the people there definitely made it a lot easier.

Since then I’ve just been trying to transition into this pro level … and just be the best person I can be for my team.

In a normal season, you would have several games under your belt. But things are a lot different because of COVID. Break down how the prep for this season has been different than what you experienced your rookie year?

I would definitely say that there’s a lot more individual efforts on people’s parts. So we have to do a lot of things like workouts at home, we have to try to get on the ice by ourselves because sometimes we don’t always have practices every week. We’ve had some teams take a couple weeks breaks just whether it be their Ice Arena closing down or other complications along the way.

So there’s definitely a lot more individual efforts that have to take place this year. Besides that, everybody does have to put in that individual effort, um, people just need to be a lot more … grounded and focused.

There are two things that I’d love to break down, particularly because you are a goalie. So first, from a goalie perspective, what has been your take on the times when you are having to do that individual time, whether it’s on or off the ice? I get the sense that the goalie position might be one of the most technical positions in hockey. But then, of course … you don’t have a puck coming at you. I just wonder, what are the benefits and some of the downsides to that individual workout as a goalie?

Goalie is definitely very technical. I think anybody that doesn’t play that position, they don’t know it as well as what another goalie might know about it. So it’s very technical, it’s a lot about muscle memory, and just practicing that, that regular movement over and over to just really ingrain it in your system.

I would say some of the drawbacks about it is not being able to get on the ice consistently. So then you can’t practice that consistent muscle memory and just those movements. Because honestly, when you take one day off practice, as a goalie, personally, I can I can tell them, I’m off. Because you’re just you’re out of that routine, and you kind of lose it a bit. I would say probably the upside is that I am able to have more recovery time. So I’m not really wearing down on my body as much as I would be. So that is a plus side, but then it’s also a drawback. So it’s a give and take.

How do you challenge yourself to keep yourself level headed in a game situation without game scenarios?

Yeah, well, I might be weird for this. But during game situations, I actually I do like commercial breaks. And I do other little things just to keep my mind occupied.

Wait! Break that down!

So like, if, if the whistle happens, I’ll be like, “This commercial is brought to you by Geico.” I just do like weird little things to keep my mind going. Because if I end up having my mind trail of, I just lose focus and it’s not good. I need to constantly have something going on in my mind, just to stay in the game.

More from Sonjia on playing for the Riveters and what she thinks the NWHL bubble should be called on the Founding 4 Podcast!


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 Sarah Kellam @sarahkellam, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster

Written by Erica L. Ayala