Meet the Woman Behind ‘Black Girl Hockey Club,’ a Safe and Trusted Space for Black Women Hockey Lovers

by Xara Aziz
Twitter @reneehess

A California woman is blazing new trails for Black women in hockey and is finally getting the recognition she deserves.

Renee Hess is the founder of Black Girl Hockey Club, a community space that focuses on making hockey more inclusive for Black women, family, friends and allies. 

Hess remembers distinctly when she first fell in love with hockey and knew she would pursue a career in the field as an adult. But she says she didn’t necessarily feel comfortable after attending her first NHL game back in 2016.

“I remember being a little intimidated, a little unnerved, because walking into a hockey arena, I didn’t see any faces that looked like mine. I didn’t see any women of color there, any Black women,” Hess told Sportsnet. “After I’d gone to a couple live games, I started wondering, ‘Where are all the Black women fans?’ I had been pretty active on Twitter for a few years, so I started looking for Black girl hockey fans online, seeing if I could find where these women were. And I think I found a few!”

Two years later, Black Girl Hockey Club was birthed from the belief that Black women should feel represented and included at hockey games – whether on or off the ice. Since the club’s inception, it has grown to include hundreds of members who meet up all over the United States and Canada to attend games. Members of the organization have also begun to conduct meetings with Black players in the league about the importance of diversity and inclusion in the sport.

“I always say it was a little bit of a selfish endeavor because I wanted to have Black women friends that I could go to hockey games with. None of my friends or family were really into the sport, and when I would go to games, it’s very noticeable that there’s not a lot of women of color at hockey games,” Hess said. “It became evident to me as I was kind of looking for other Black women in the hockey community that there needed to be a place for Black women, so that we could find each other. Because I was finding fans of color — men, women, LGBTQ folk — but they didn’t know that the other ones existed.”

Now that Hess has cemented her club’s presence across the nation, she is looking to expand.

“Honestly, I would love to have a chapter of Black Girl Hockey Club in every major hockey town, in all the NHL towns. Where women and their families and their friends can get together and go to a hockey game. And have hockey-related events.”

Moreover, she hopes that her efforts will work to amplify the voices of minority hockey players while pushing the narrative of creating safe and trusted spaces for women of color in the sports arena.

“Diversity and inclusion education, having these discussions where we can frankly talk about how Black people fit into hockey culture, the history of Black people in hockey, what that looks like and what the future of Black hockey culture is,” Hess concluded.

 Congratulations, Renee! We are so proud of you!

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