As a little girl growing up in Toronto, Canada, learning to ice skate was a non-negotiable–part and parcel of our below-freezing weather that lasted three to five months of the year. I took it one step further: Beginning at age 4, I was the only girl on a “co-ed” hockey team which practiced several times a week, including twice weekly at 6 a.m.
I wanted so badly to be good at hockey. But even with a woman coach, I sat cold and benched for 90 percent of every game. Was it because I sucked? Probably, though I bet getting the chance to actually play the game would have improved my skills. (I went on to be a pretty good figure skater, so I knew I wasn’t just bad at skating.) But where were my women hockey role models? Certainly not in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
I didn’t really understand how big this is but now I’m seeing the magnitude of it and understanding we are the first to go in and thinking what it means for women’s hockey.
James was previously inducted into the Black Hockey Sports Hall of Fame and both players were recognized by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) in 2008. James and Granato, along with Geraldine Heaney, were the first women to be inducted in the IIHF’s Hall of Fame. The IIHF represents hockey players from international leagues, whereas the Hockey Hall of Fame mostly represents players from the NHL and is the better known of the two.
Congratulations, James and Granato! Let this first induction pave the way for future women hockey players, and serve as inspiration for all the little girl hockey players out there looking to make it to the Olympics and beyond.