DENVER – The Black Girl Hockey Club has partnered with the Colorado Avalanche on its Get Uncomfortable campaign, a pledge to disrupt racism and make hockey more inclusive.
Black Girl Hockey Club is an organization of Black women and allies with a goal of supporting Black/BIPOC players and fans.
“We're an organization that does everything from scholarship opportunities to gatherings so folks feel safe when they go to games,” said Black Girl Hockey Club volunteer Danielle Adams. “There is a deficit of folks who look like me on the ice and off the ice. So at first, it felt uncomfortable. But there are aspects of the hockey, the sport itself, that are loving and welcoming, and it's just such a great sport.”
The Black Girl Hockey Club launched the Get Uncomfortable campaign in 2020.
“It was really a way for fans all across the sport to come together and say, 'We're gonna get uncomfortable and talk about racial justice and being inclusive,'” Adams said. “Earlier this year, the Avalanche signed on to our pledge, and they pledged to get uncomfortable with Black Girl Hockey Club and to really invest in diversity and inclusion in the sport in the Denver community. So we're really excited. We provide scholarships through Black Girl Hockey Club, and the Colorado Avalanche are committed to not only getting uncomfortable but providing opportunity to young players who aren't necessarily able to easily access the game.”
Through the campaign, the Avs have hosted camps for BIPOC youth and used social media to start tough conversations.
“As a fan, there are maybe five fans of color, maybe three Black fans at any given home game,” said Colorado Avalanche fan Kristen Wallace.
Wallace hopes to join the club soon to watch the sport she loves with other BIPOC women and to continue advocating for diversity in hockey.
“I think that because hockey is not a traditionally American sport, you've got like Canada and Norway who are really providing most of the players, then, you know, it’s not as diverse, and Black hockey players don't get the kind of support that they might need. But hockey is also, it's very expensive,” Wallace said. “We need to get hockey started sooner earlier. Make it more accessible to Black kids. Because really, we end up promoting sports that are less cost prohibitive.”
At a time when some of the league’s best players continue to face racism, Wallace and Adams say inclusion has to be a priority for the NHL. But Adams says right now, all Colorado hockey fans, no matter their background, have at least one thing in common — a winning team.