Black women hockey pioneers mentor next generation

Canadian hockey stars Sarah Nurse and Saroya Tinker are paving the way for young Black girls in the sport, breaking barriers and inspiring the next generation. Recently they shared their experiences as Black women in hockey and discussed their efforts to mentor and support aspiring players.

Sarah Nurse

Nurse, a 29-year-old forward from Hamilton, Ontario, who helped Canada secure Olympic gold in 2022, currently plays for Toronto’s Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) team. Meanwhile, Tinker, 25, left the ice to become the PWHL’s Manager of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives & Community Engagement after retiring from playing for the Toronto Six.

Recognizing the importance of representation, Tinker founded the Canadian chapter of the Black Girl Hockey Club (BGHC) in November 2022. The nonprofit aims to foster a passion for hockey within the Black community, offering scholarships, community programs, and mentorship opportunities across the country. Through the BGHC, Tinker raised $32,000 to establish Black Girl Hockey Club Canada, where she serves as executive director.

Saroya Tinker

Both Nurse and Tinker emphasize the significance of seeing Black girls embrace hockey and feel welcomed in the sport. They shared personal anecdotes about feeling different in hockey spaces due to their racial backgrounds, highlighting the need for more inclusivity and support for Black players.

The duo also discussed their new initiative, “Nursey Night,” in collaboration with the BGHC. This initiative will bring young Black girls to PWHL Toronto games each month, allowing Nurse to connect directly with the next generation of hockey hopefuls.

Despite their success, Nurse and Tinker acknowledge the challenges they face as Black women in a predominantly white sport, including feelings of imposter syndrome and pressure to be perfect. However, they remain committed to empowering others and creating opportunities for Black girls in hockey.

With their leadership and advocacy, Nurse and Tinker are not only changing the face of women’s hockey but also shaping a more inclusive future for the sport. As role models and mentors, they are inspiring countless young athletes to pursue their dreams, regardless of race or background.