Challenging Convention: Saroya Tinker

“Hockey saw me — specifically, the white people in hockey saw me. To them, it mattered what I looked like. They saw my Black skin. And they judged me.” – Saroya Tinker

Because I’m an #over50 athlete who plays hockey with a lot of junior and college players, I get judged by players all the time, but that’s nothing compared to what Saroya Tinker faced while growing up in Canada and still faces even as a professional playing for the Metropolitan Riveters.

Enduring racial harassment, including being called the N word by one of her 12-year-old teammates, Saroya understandably began to hate the game she loved.

“It didn’t feel like hockey wanted me,” she wrote in The Players’ Tribune.

Thankfully, she didn’t quit. Instead, Saroya decided to exact her revenge by becoming the best hockey player she could be and rise to the highest level. That earned her an offer to play at Yale. Last year, she was drafted by the Riveters to play in the NWHL.

Saroya is determined to help make hockey more accessible to young Black girls by teaming with the Black Girl Hockey Club to raise money for sponsorships to pay for skates and equipment.

Saroya is also leading the way by speaking out and voicing issues faced by Black hockey players, opening the door by starting difficult conversations to make things easier for those following in her footsteps.

On International Women’s Day, and everyday, Saroya, we send you love, respect, support and gratitude for your strength, courage, passion, and commitment to make hockey better – for everyone.

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