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Top 22 BIPOC Leaders & Influencers in Hockey

Updated: Dec 8, 2022


PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 23: NHL Diversity Ambassador Willie O'Ree looks at the exhibit inside the American Legacy Black Hockey History Tour mobile museum at PreGame ahead of the 2019 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game between the Pittsburgh PenNHLI VIA GETTY IMAGES
PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 23: NHL Diversity Ambassador Willie O'Ree looks at the exhibit inside the American Legacy Black Hockey History Tour mobile museum at PreGame ahead of the 2019 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game between the Pittsburgh PenNHLI VIA GETTY IMAGES

At Black Rosie Media, we are dedicated to empowering Black women and melanated creators in sports media. As a part of our mission, we highlight rising stars and established BIPOC leaders and influencers in sports.


To that end, I began to wonder who my media peers label the 22 most influential BIPOC leaders in hockey. To that end, I convened a panel of people in hockey to rank their Top 25 BIPOC leaders in hockey.


MEET THE PANEL

Seven voters, including me, ranked their Top 25 BIPOC leaders in hockey from a list I generated. Voters were also encouraged to write in deserving candidates for consideration. We will get to that list before the end of the year. Here is the Black Rosie Media panel of voters:


Angelica Rodriguez - Angelica is the co-host of the Founding 4 Podcast, the flagship show for Black Rosie Media. She contributes to The Ice Garden, mainly covering the Buffalo Beauts team in the Premier Hockey Federation. She has covered women's hockey at a variety of outlets.


Ashley Mouzzon - Ashley is the founder of Ball Hockey Boot Camp, an organization dedicated to growing the game of ball hockey for young girls and boys. In addition, she has contributed to various outlets, including Sports Illustrated's Women's Hockey Life podcast.


Chanel Keenan - Chanel is a Black Rosie Media advisory board member. She most recently worked with the Seattle Kraken as an inclusion consultant. The Athletic recently listed her as a hockey Twitter account to follow.


Ian Kennedy - Ian is a writer for The Hockey News and the author of "On Account of Darkness." The self-identified 'sports disruptor published a list of 20 women making Black history in hockey earlier this year. Ian also contributes analysis for Yahoo! Sports NHL.


Luis Sanchez - Luis is a broadcaster and educator in the Boston area. He has called Boston College women's sports games since 2012. In 2015, Sanchez founded My W Sports, a platform dedicated to women's sports coverage. He gave me my first sports assignment.


Luiza Vidal - Luiza is a co-host and co-owner of the Tic-Tac-Gol, a podcast for hockey fans in Portuguese. Luiza is also a contributor at Last Word on Hockey.


Voters were sent a ballot and instructed to rank the most impactful People of Color in hockey, with one (1) being the most impactful, based on the following criteria:

  • Advocates for anti-racism, equity, and inclusion in the hockey community and contributes to BIPOC-led initiatives that are proven change agents

  • Amplifies Black voices and voices of color at all levels of hockey (women, youth, adaptive, etc.) with an unwavering commitment to accountability, collaboration, and respect

  • Empowers the next generation of hockey players, personnel, and professionals to lead with transparency, integrity, trust, and courage

  • Encourages others to build strong values and practices in service to the growing change movement in hockey

  • InspireAfter tallying all the ballots from our panel, including my own, here are the inaugural Top 22 BIPOC Leaders & Influencers in Hockey

After the ballots were submitted, I tallied the top-ranked BIPOC leaders. A person was provided a points score (25 points for a one ranking down to 1 point for a ranking of 25).


Here are the Top 22 BIPOC Leaders in Hockey (in descending order) as rated by the Black Rosie Media panel:

22. Kwame Mason

21. Jazmine Miley

20. Quinton Byfield

19. Mike Grier

18. Juan Carlos Ortero

17. Bernice Carnegie

16. Bryant McBride

15. Grant Fuhr

14. Mikayla Grant-mentis

13. Akim Aliu

12. Bob Dawson

11. J.T Brown

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - FEBRUARY 09: Seattle Kraken television analyst J.T. Brown poses for a portrait before a game between the Arizona Coyotes and the Seattle Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena on February 09, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by ChrisNHLI VIA GETTY IMAGES
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - FEBRUARY 09: Seattle Kraken television analyst J.T. Brown poses for a portrait before a game between the Arizona Coyotes and the Seattle Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena on February 09, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by ChrisNHLI VIA GETTY IMAGES

10. Julie Chu

9. Kim Davis

8. Dr. Courtney Szto

7. Kelsey Koelzer

6. Blake Bolden

Blake Bolden kisses the Isobel Cup, the trophy awarded to the NWHL (now PHF) champion. Photo by Jessie N. Ayala
Blake Bolden kisses the Isobel Cup, the trophy awarded to the NWHL (now PHF) champion. Photo by Jessie N. Ayala

5. Sarah Nurse

4. Angela James

3. Saroya Tinker

2. Renee Hess

1. Willie O'Ree


It was challenging for the voters to rank such deserving leaders. As we work through our features, you will hear from some voters about how they approached their Top 25. I will also provide more insight, such as names of all the voters added to their ballots and write-in names we may see crack the list in the future.


Throughout the 2022-23 hockey season, we will be sharing features on these outstanding leaders who make the hockey community better for us all. We will also highlight other exceptional leaders who received votes.


I am excited to continue this project and eventually expand to other sports. I firmly believe in empowering Black women and melanated people in sports media. However, we must also educate the sports community about BIPOC pioneers, innovators, and future stars.


In their recent report, the NHL seeks to "build D&I at every point where a player, fan, or employee might interact with the game, taking important steps to lay the foundation for progress."


The report is divided into five sections, with an initial introduction by Commissioner Gary Bettman. In his statement, Bettman acknowledges the diversity in the NHL "for generations."


This is true! Despite what we deem "non-traditional" hockey markets, we have always seen the sport played by women, children, and men of all ages, ethnicities, and speaking different languages. Despite this, Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color are still making hockey history in 2022.

For generations, the National Hockey League has served as a connection point for a tremendous degree of ethnic diversity: Players, fans, and employees have come from around the world, carrying their unique cultures and shaping the game and the business of hockey in incredible ways. - Gary Bettman

So yes, there have always been BIPOC people in hockey. There have always been women in hockey. However, the story that is told too often overlooks our accomplishments – especially those of us without immediate proximity to the NHL. I firmly believe part of the reason is that the greater hockey community has accepted the overwhelming male whiteness of the sport without a second thought.


Further, we only focus on certain firsts while overlooking others. I am eager to share more in-depth stories about all the names listed above and many more who have shaped and continue shaping the future of hockey at all levels.


Is there a name you think is deserving of our Top 22? Let us know in the comments.






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