NCAA Division I hockey student-athletes, coaches and administrators unveiled a new initiative Wednesday — College Hockey for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion — that is designed to create positive cultural change in the sport through communication, education, allyship and advocacy.
According to U.S. College Hockey Online, a group of 27 people representing the 11 Division I hockey conferences began meeting in the summer of 2020 and are leading the movement.
“The energy and commitment that this group has brought to each meeting has been inspiring,” said Jennifer Flowers, VP and women’s commissioner of the WCHA and the chair of the committee. “We are united in our goal and recognize there is work to be done. The conversations we had give me confidence that we can affect change and ensure that college hockey is a welcoming environment for all.”
While Black athletes make up large percentages, often solid majorities, in major college sports, less than 3 percent of college hockey players are Black. College Hockey for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion is dedicated to creating positive cultural change across the sport through communication, education, allyship and advocacy.
The group's mission statement reads: "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.''
That mantra — one shift at a time — reflects the group’s determination to pursue the challenging and necessary work of creating positive cultural change, with a recognition that sometimes that change comes as the accumulation of small steps, USCHO reported.
“We are united in our effort to create meaningful change and improve diversity, equity and inclusion within our sport,” the group's website reads. “We intend to build upon the work of our institutions and partner with other organizations committed to these efforts to affect change in college hockey so that our sport may become a better version of itself. We will approach this challenging and necessary work just like we play our game: one shift at a time.”
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, 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 Star Tribune reported. 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.''