Angela James is a retired women’s hockey star, and just the second Black person inducted into Canada’s Hockey Hall of Fame. During her long career, James won a number of gold medal world championships as a member of the Canadian women’s national team.
James was born December 22, 1964 to a Black American father from Mississippi, and a white Canadian mother. She grew up in the Flemington Park section of Toronto, facing some struggles as a mixed-race child with a white mother. This fueled her passion and aggression in sports, excelling early on in softball before joining a boys hockey league when she was eight years of age.
Throughout middle and high school, James showed prowess beyond her years and she entered Seneca College as a strong player. Although she played the defence position, James led the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association for three straight years. As her home country struggled to field leagues for women, the sport eventually caught on after being ignored by the International Ice Hockey Foundation.
In 1990, the IIHF held the first World Women’s Championships with James scoring the first goal in the history of the tournament. Her scoring wizardry led to her being dubbed the “Wayne Gretzky of Women’s Hockey” and she went on to claim three other World Women’s Championships.
In 1998, the Nagano Winter Olympics featured the first women’s hockey tournament in the Olympics. James was cut from the team due to a number of factors, and the Canadian team lost to the United States Team in the gold medal finals.
James played for the Central Ontario Women’s Hockey League and the National Women’s Hockey League from 1993 until her retirement in 2000. She went into coaching and opened up her own hockey school. Later, the Flemington Arena in her hometown was renamed in her honor. She was inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010, joining Black Canadian hockey legend, Grant Fuhr, who was inducted seven years earlier.
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