Angela James has been called the first superstar in women’s hockey and a player that was nearly unstoppable on the ice. Growing up in Canada, James took the long and hard road to stardom.
“There’s no one I know in hockey who’s faced as much in their life as Angela and accomplished what they did,” Cassie Campbell-Pascall, two-time hockey Olympian, toldSportsNet. “The adversity she faced throughout her life and ability to excel – it’s incredible.”
James grew up in the projects of Toronto and battled racism in the lilly-white world of hockey. Despite her tough upbringing and the obstacles she faced, James went on to star at Seneca College where she set records with 80 goals and 128 points.
“People from the outside world would make a comment while I was playing hockey and say, ‘Oh, that person and she’s black. How can that be, you know, playing hockey?'” she told the CBC. “But I never really looked at myself as any different.”
After college, James developed into a full-fledged superstar on the international stage for Canada, helping her country win three world championships. With her strong scoring ability, James earned the nickname “The Wayne Gretzky of Women’s Hockey.”
Inexplicably, James was left off the 1998 Canandian Olympic team. However, there was no way anybody was going to keep her from making history. James was one of the first three women to be inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame in 2010. She is the first Black woman to gain entrance to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
“Being a trailblazer is remarkable,” James told the Windy City Times. “And hopefully, I can help the hopes and dreams of other young girls in the game. I think this honor comes with a responsibility that you send the right message, and continue to help people develop – through the sport or in the classroom.”
The honors kept rolling in for James over the years. Her number 8 jersey was retired at Seneca College and the highest-scoring player in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League has been awarded the Angela James Bowl since 2008.
James has been an openly gay woman for more than two decades and encourages others to be proud of who they are.
“I feel sorry for athletes who feel that they cannot be themselves and express who they are, and express any open feelings toward their partner. I’d love to see people just be who they are, whether an athlete, politician, doctor, or anyone who is in the public-eye.”
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