NEW YORK – The Black Girl Hockey Club took Manhattan over the weekend.
The group of women of color and their supporters attended the New York Rangers-Tampa Bay Lightning game at Madison Square Garden Saturday night, visited the National Hockey League’s Manhattan office, and met Commissioner Gary Bettman Friday.
The group also did a walk-through of the American Legacy Black Hockey History Tour – a 525 square-foot mobile museum that will tour six U.S. cities as part of the league’s and the National Hockey League Players’ Association’s celebration of Black History Month.
— SimonSays (@SimonSaysEnt) February 3, 2019
“It’s really just fun to see women who look like me, especially women who are older than me, who like hockey. I’ve not seen that,” said Fatou Bah, an events/marketing/social media entrepreneur and die-hard Washington Capitals fan, who attended the weekend’s festivities.
BGHC was founded by Renee Hess, a Riverside, California, woman who sought to gather a critical mass of women of color who, like her, are interested in hockey but might be hesitant to attend games in arenas where minority fans are truly a minority.
The group held its first meet-up in Washington in December a drew more than 40 women and their children from across the country for a game between the Capitals and Buffalo Sabres.
The Rangers invited the group to New York and put on the hospitality with a tour of Madison Square Garden, an ice-level view of the team’s pre-game warm-up, and a meet-and-greet with right wing Pavel Buchnevich and center Vladislav Namestnikov post-game.
“We’re trying to diversify our fan base, right? And it’s not just with men, it’s women, too.” Carter said. “To see the Black Girl Hockey Club coming and the momentum that they’re getting, it’s getting parents to see other black women that are down with hockey, too. It’s all about the parents, as far as I’m concerned. If you can get the parents convinced and hooked, then the kids are going to play.”
Stephane Clare arrived from Brooklyn for Saturday’s game in the Full Lundqvist – adorned in a blue Rangers jersey with All-Star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist’s name and number 30 on the back. She was excited to join the BGHC meet-up and have company inside MSG.
“Usually I’m the only one at the game – it’s a little better when I go to Islanders games in Brooklyn – but, yeah, at MSG I’m very much in the minority. The more people that get involved with (hockey), off all races and genders, hockey should be much bigger than it is. It’s a great game.”
BGHC’s next stop? Nashville next weekend for a February 10 matinee between the Predators and St. Louis Blues.
The Smashville weekend coincides with the National Women’s Hockey League All-Star Game, where BGHC members will see Buffalo Beauts defender Blake Bolden and the rest of the league’s best players in action.
BGHC mebers will also be in the house at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center February 16 to watch the New York Islanders take on the Edmonton Oilers.
Follow the Color of Hockey on Facebook and Twitter @ColorOfHockey. And download the Color of Hockey podcast from iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud and Google Play.