Seeking to make college hockey more welcoming for all people, the 11 NCAA Division I conferences in the sport announced Wednesday the establishment of a new initiative, College Hockey for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.
A group of 27 NCAA Division I players, coaches and administrators have been meeting, seeking ideas and proposals to bring about the change they desire. On Wednesday, a group of four players joined Omaha assistant coach Paul Jerrard, Northeastern athletic director Jeffrey Konya and WCHA women's league Commissioner Jennifer Flowers on a video call to announce the initiative.
Their mission statement: "College Hockey for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion is dedicated to creating positive cultural change across our sport through communication, education, allyship, and advocacy. Together we are working for a better tomorrow, one shift at a time.''
Momentum for the initiative began in the wake of George Floyd's death at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department.
Though specific projects have yet to be announced, Flowers focused on the educational aspect of the group's goals. The initiative has a website — collegehockey4dei.com — and Flowers is hopeful an instructional video can be "in each locker room by the time the season starts next year.''
The players on the panel had a variety of goals.
• Alabama Huntsville's Ayodele Adeniye: "I hope this group is able to help educate, unify and expand the game of hockey to communities that don't really know much about the sport to expand the sport.'' Adeniye plans to help introduce street hockey to boys' and girls' clubs in the Huntsville area.
• Bemidji State's Tina Kampa of Maple Grove: "Getting the game available to people from all different backgrounds … having the opportunity to try out the sport.''
• North Dakota's Jasper Weatherby: "Growing the fans' side of the game. If we can get more people of color in the arena, that's a huge thing.''
• New Hampshire's Nikki Harnett: "I really want to work on changing the locker room culture. … I grew up playing men's hockey and boys' hockey, and I know what goes on in those locker rooms. I want our culture change to be so deep that it changes what people talk about when nobody's listening.''
Gophers defenseman Robbie Stucker is also a member of the committee but wasn't one of the speakers on the video call.