Hockey has slowly been showing signs of racial diversity in the professional ranks, and that growth has occurred in both the men’s and women’s leagues. Two Black women players at the top of the collegiate class were recently drafted, with Kelsey Koelzer making history as the first Black woman ever to be drafted first by a top professional women’s team.
Koelzer, 21, is currently a senior defensewoman for the Princeton Tigers. The Horsham, Penn. native has won several awards on the collegiate level and has earned respect from others in her sport during her rise. The National Women’s Hockey League draft saw Koelzer go at the top after she was selected by the New York Rivers.
In a recent New York Times profile featuring her and fellow Black player, Wisconsin University senior forward Sarah Nurse, Koelzer said that racism in the sport has been a rare occurrence for her although she was called a slur during a stint on her high school’s boy’s team.
Nurse, also 21, has become one of the sport’s top scorers selected in the second round of the NWHL draft by the Boston Pride. Nurse, who hails from Hamilton, Ontario, has been a star in her native Canada and played for its national team in 2015.
Both players have recognized their rare positions in the sport, and hope to inspire other girls of color to take up the game.
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