It’s crazy to think that the United States Women’s Hockey team has never had a black player on its roster until Laila Edwards. She previously failed to make the team, but that didn’t hold her back from pursuing her ambitions. Now that she’s broken this barrier, becoming the first black woman in the US team. Edwards expressed her concerns about being the first to get here. Let’s find out more about her.
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Laila Edwards’ Beginning
Edwards’ journey to playing hockey started at Cleveland Heights in Ohio State. Her father participated in the sport and drew them in. Together with her siblings, Edwards got into ice skating and enjoyed the game because of the outfits. However, her father, but wanted her to play hockey but she didn’t want to.
Even so, Edwards was the best player on the boys’ teams. She said they were, for the most part inclusive, but was able to get by because of her love for hockey. As she continued building herself, she was confronted by other difficulties. For example, when she joined the girls’ team, not everyone was happy to see a black woman play.
During one of the games, an opponent hit her on the head and her family cheered. Edwards and her family questioned their motives as they deemed it to be racially motivated.
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Laila Edwards’ career trajectory grew from strength to strength. In 2022, she was the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) U18 Women’s World Championship. She helped Team USA to a silver medal after scoring eight points.
When she went to an elite girls’ hockey program, at Bishop Kearney High School in Rochester, she was top of the team with 147 goals and 226 assists in 287 games.
She then went to the University of Wisconsin and won the All-Rookie team honor for the Women’s College Hockey Association. The sophomore student won the NCAA title with the team and was part of the Badgers who made it into the Frozen Four all-tournament team. The win was even sweeter because her sister Chayla was also in the same team. They came back stronger in the following year and Edwards kept scoring 14 points.
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National Team Call-Up
Laila Edwards’s performance was hard to ignore for the US Women’s Hockey Team. In October 2023, she received an email telling her she’d been selected for the national team. The team USA coach John Wroblewski said she was chosen because of her rise and hockey IQ.
Her first game was in a rivalry series game against Canada, in which she lined up alongside Abby Roque and Britta Curl in Los Angeles.
Even though she’s grateful to have made the team and is glad to be an inspiration to a little black girl, Edwards said that it would have been nicer to have another black person she could look up to.
If she continues performing, it opens the door for her to become the second black player after Jordan Greenway to make it into the USA’s Olympic team. Her achievements have been noticed by some prominent figures, like Travis Kelce and Blake Bolden.
Hopefully, Laila Edwards’ breakthrough will lead to more black women and players of color getting a chance to play on the national team.
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