What was your first experience with hockey?
The first experience I had with hockey was watching a game. I got bored and just sat on my phone and just watched a Boston versus L.A. Kings game. That was the first game I ever saw. I was immediately interested.
What about it caught your attention?
It just looked like so much fun. It was a sport that didn’t seem insanely boring. I hate football. I used to play soccer, but this was a sport that I could play and that I want to play and watch … One that I could be obsessed with.
What did your parents say when you became interested in hockey?
That it’s too violent. But my mom made a deal with me while I was buying my gear. I could play as long as I would wear a cage.
Have they come around to you playing?
They’re fully supportive now, which is awesome.
How did you feel during your first game?
I was so scared to check someone … I was like, “This is terrifying.” I hit her, and I was like “I am so sorry.” I apologized to her as soon I tapped her. I’m not like a super violent person, so I’m not going to come up and hit you or anything, but it’s still fun.
Has that changed at all?
For sure. When I play now, it’s with people I’ve played with before and that I know are supportive if I mess up.
Are you playing on a team now?
I’m not on a team because I’m in between ages. There isn’t a team for girls my age. I’m not old enough to play with the women, and I’m not young enough to play with the kids, so I have to wait until next year, my 18th birthday.
What’s it like to not be playing on a team?
I try not to stress about it, but it sucks, honestly. I’m grateful for the chance I’ve had to play with one.
Has anyone ever told you that you shouldn’t play hockey because you’re a girl?
Absolutely not. Most of the people that know that I’m playing think it’s pretty awesome. Because it’s not something you get to see very often locally, especially in Portland. I still haven’t met many people who even like hockey here. As I reach out into Vancouver or Mountain View Ice Arena or Beaverton Skating Center, it’s nice to meet more females that love and enjoy hockey.
What is that community of female players like?
It’s so supportive. It’s competitive but not competitive to the point that we are fighting or anything. A couple checks here and there, but it’s all about fun and enjoyment and just roughhousing. It’s like a family. You don’t want to leave.
In what ways have you noticed the obstacle of being a female hockey player, even when it has never been explicitly expressed to you?
It’s just never really seeing women’s hockey anywhere. It’s kind of sad.
There aren’t many black hockey players in the NHL. Has that discouraged you?
No, not really. The black players that are in the NHL play pretty well, so I don’t think it’s discouraged me in any way.
How does hockey help in the rest of your life?
It’s motivational to figure out how I want to get to where I want to be. Whether in school, life or progressing into the field I want to go into. I want to be a … nurse or go into pediatrics of any form. That’s hard, and playing hockey is hard. But it’s worth it, and why not go for it? They both feel worth it, and hockey’s just that constant reminder that it’s worth it.
What else do you do when you aren’t playing hockey?
I’ve been pretty into art since I was younger. When it comes to like drawing and painting, it kind of depends on the mood. It’s usually whatever comes to mind first. I draw a lot of hockey players, that’s pretty big.
What are your favorite parts about hockey and art?
Hockey is a fun way to meet people. It’s a nice stress reliever. And with art, since I’ve been kind of a quiet person, drawing was always my company. ◆