First Black Woman Drafted Into National Women’s Hockey League Encourages Diversity

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Nine years after becoming the first Black woman to play in the National Women’s Hockey League in 2015, former professional women’s hockey forward Blake Bolden has dedicated herself to cultivating a more inclusive landscape within the sport of hockey as the first Black woman scout for an NHL team, the Los Angeles Kings.

In addition to her pro scouting role with the Kings, the Cleveland, Ohio, native, who joined the Kings organization in 2020, per her website, serves as the team’s Growth & Inclusion Specialist. As part of the NHL’s Player Inclusion Coalition, Bolden is passionate about diversifying the sport and ensuring marginalized youth have access, as she expressed to Essence.

“My main goal is to just diversify the game. The NHL has this slogan saying, ‘Hockey is for everyone,’ and that is basically what I’ve held on to my whole life because, in every rink that I went into, I was the only person of color most of the time, I was the only girl on my team,” she said. “It’s so important to me now to spread this message to ensure that a person of color, or the girl on an all-boys team: ‘You’re welcome here. You don’t have to feel uncomfortable. You don’t have to feel like you don’t belong,’ and a part of my job is to continue to push these barriers.”

Putting words into action, with an NHL PIC grant, she helped convene over 75 young hockey players of color together in Detroit for community building and skill development.

With a grant from the NHL PIC Action Fund, @SportBlake helped more than 75 young hockey players of color come together for a weekend of community building and skill development in Detroit.

Read more from @Essence

— NHL Player Inclusion Coalition (@PlayerInclusion) June 18, 2024

According to the National Hockey League, Bolden and other NHL players practiced drills with participants at the Willie O’Ree Skills Weekend scrimmage in April at the Anaheim Ducks facility.

USA Hockey spotlighted the star in 2023, commending her youth mentorship, with Bolden stating, “Now that I’m out in the community a lot, I really see myself in these young girls, and I see how they sometimes struggle with anxiety or struggle everyday dealings of life and sports.” She added, “I wanted to tie in the lessons I’ve learned along the way, bring in some of my amazing peers that I got to play professional women’s hockey with along my journey, and just have a really fruitful discussion and sharing for six months.”

Bolden has partnered with companies like Winmark and Play It Again Sports for her “emBolden Her Mentorship Program,” providing role modeling just as she had growing up. Her accomplished playing career saw her don the prestigious USA jersey at the 2008 and 2009 Under-18 Women’s World Championships, where her team won gold both times.

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