Blake Bolden has already broken several barriers for Black women in professional hockey, and she’s not even 30 years old yet.
An Ohio native and All-American for the Boston College women’s ice hockey team, Bolden made history in 2013 as the first Black woman to be drafted in the first round of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League Draft. In just two years with the Boston Blades, Bolden earned her first All-Star appearance and won the 2015 Clarkson Cup.
She made the jump to the National Women’s Hockey League in 2015 during its inaugural season, and became the first Black woman to compete in the NWHL with her debut with the Boston Pride, who won the league’s first Isobel Cup that season. She played in the NWHL until 2019, and made history again in 2020 when she joined the Los Angeles Kings’ front office. Her hire was monumental for young women, making her the NHL’s first African-American female scout.
“I would tell young female athletes and anyone to never let fear get in the way”, she told Women’s Hockey Life. If you push yourself out of your comfort zone, only good things will happen. Whether you learn for the better or succeed, there is no such thing as failure, so don’t be afraid of it.”
The historic opportunity came from a chance encounter when Bolden attended an LA Kings game with the Black Girl Hockey Club, which met with Kings President Luc Robitaille after a game during a tour of the Staples Center. In a conversation with Bolden, Robitaille turned her onto the idea of pro scouting. The team hired her for the position a few months later in February. While she was the first African-American female scout in the NHL, her hire made her just the second woman ever to serve in the capacity.
“I just didn’t think it was something I could do, that was available,” she told NHL.com. “I knew I could do it, if the opportunity presented itself, but I didn’t know that was an opportunity. So when it presented itself, I was, like, ‘Yeah, heck yeah, why not?’ That sounds really cool — to use my knowledge of the game and potentially help make some dreams come true.”
In July, Bolden added growth and inclusion specialist to her job title for the launch of an LA Kings’ Inclusion Initiative to improve equity in hockey. Guided by Bolden, the initiative’s goal is to end racism by tackling systemic issues in Los Angeles and the industry, while creating opportunity and equity in hockey, according to the team statement.
“I have an opportunity to make a change in the sport by being a diversity and inclusion ambassador for hockey,” she told LAKings.com. “That’s something I really want to see. I want to see Los Angeles especially be more diverse in its fanbase and its children playing in the grassroots level. I want that to trickle and spread throughout the entire nation. I want other NHL clubs to have a growth and inclusion specialist. … I want that to be shown in every single club. This is a great position to be in and I think you’ll see me a lot more in the hockey space.”
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