My hockey career began at the age of 7 and directly resulted from seeing a young black hockey player in the Mighty Ducks movie. When I saw young black players on the ice in that movie, I wanted to give it a shot. My parents initially thought my interest was temporary, however, my interest in the sport of hockey blossomed into an unwavering love for the game.
Hockey continues to serve as both a personal and social outlet for me. The rink is a place where I can reflect, develop, and unwind. The rink is a place where I have spent thousands of hours in the course of my life and a place where many of my most cherished memories occurred. The rink is the place where I learned how to tackle any obstacle.
Obstacles will always arise whether they be race-based, socioeconomic class-based, gender-based, or administratively based. However, these obstacles should never be the reason why someone cannot follow a dream that they have or play a sport that they love. While some obstacles seem more prevalent than others, I’ve noticed that these obstacles can become harder to overcome as one gets older. But one resource that proved beneficial was mentor-ship.
Mentors both on and off the ice in the form of parents, siblings, friends, coaches, and role models allowed me to navigate all of the obstacles I faced growing up as a hockey player of color. My biggest takeaway from mentor-ship was that I was not alone in neither my struggles nor my successes. I had a stronger support system than I realized and that gave me the confidence I needed to play at elite levels from youth and junior level hockey to collegiate level club hockey.
The sense of worth instilled by my family and mentors proved monumental in my athletic, social, and academic development. The benefits gained through having family support coupled with mentor-ship and my hockey family are bountiful.
I joined this movement because I know my experience is not unique for hockey players of color. Throughout both my positive and negative experiences, I have learned through trial and error of how to cope with certain challenges that arise. Hockey is for everyone, and no person should be deprived of the opportunity to play the game that I grew to love.
By: Caleb Williamson