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Laila Edwards has achieved a historic milestone by becoming the first Black woman to join the U.S. Senior National Hockey Team.
This groundbreaking moment occurred during a recent match against Canada on November 11, where the 19-year-old assumed her position on the forward line.
Laila Edwards is breaking barriers on the ice
This noteworthy debut represents a remarkable personal accomplishment for Edwards, who has dedicated much of her life to playing hockey. However, it also brings attention to the stark lack of diversity at this level within U.S. hockey.
In reflecting on this achievement, Edwards expressed her gratitude for the opportunity while also offering a critical perspective on the amount of diversity within the team.
She conveyed, “It’s an honor to be the first Black woman on the national team, but this team’s been around for a long time,” underscoring the significance of representation and questioning the absence of previous Black members.
Emphasizing the potential impact of diversity in sports, Edwards highlighted the importance of young athletes seeing players who look like them and share similar backgrounds.
“It would have been nice to have someone that looked like me.”
Edwards noted the potential benefits she might have experienced growing up if she had seen a Black woman on the U.S. national team before her.
In a post-game interview, Edwards acknowledged both the lack of representation and her newfound responsibility as a role model, stating, “It would have been nice to have someone that looked like me on that team before me. I’m glad that I’m able to be that someone for another little Black girl out there.”
She expressed her commitment to inspiring young girls, especially those of color.
“I want to be an inspiration for all young girls – but especially young girls of color – so they’ll be able to look at me and say, ‘Oh, she can do it so I can do it too,'” she stated.
Currently a sophomore in college, Edwards skates for the University of Wisconsin alongside her older sister Chayla Edwards.
Chayla, recognizing Laila’s skill and understanding the challenges of being a Black woman in hockey, expressed pride and optimism about her sister’s ability to inspire young Black girls to pursue hockey.
Looking ahead, Edwards has the potential to make history once again in 2026 as the second Black player on a U.S. Olympic hockey team. Team USA coach John Wroblewski, acknowledging Edwards’ exceptional talent on the ice, stated in an interview with The Athletic, “I don’t think there’s another woman like her in the game right now.”