National Women’s Soccer League rookie phenom and Utah Royal’s attacker Tziarra King has been outspoken about the lack of diversity in sports, especially when it comes to better representation for women of color. She extended the need for better representation to the National Women’s Hockey League in regard to merchandise, and the league responded swiftly thanks to King’s input.
The NWHL rolled out an extended t-shirt line for fans that featured a standard ponytail coming out of a hockey helmet. King liked the shirt and wanted to support the league, but knew the NWHL was missing an opportunity by excluding black hairstyles.
“Alright, it’s decided. I’m now a Riveters fan.” she wrote on Twitter. “NWHL I really want this shirt, but can we get some texture in that pony(tail) for the black girls? I’m thinking something like (Riveters rookie) Saroya Tinker. Maybe one for the short-haired girls too?”
In the ensuing months, King and the league collaborated and released a new line of apparel in early September. The new t-shirts featured a number of ponytail styles including braids and tight curls.
“I appreciate the NWHL for listening to my concerns and taking action,” King said in a statement from the NWHL. “Representation is such an important part of feeling empowered, especially in a space where many people don’t look like you. I challenge the NWHL and the entire sport of hockey to make strides towards a more inclusive environment for all. I’m so glad to have collaborated with the NWHL on these designs and look forward to following the league for many years to come.”
Before the Utah Royals drafted King, she was a standout player at North Carolina State University. She was the ACC Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2020, earned multiple All-American honors, and was the first player in North Carolina State University history to be drafted to the NWSL. Her incredible talents on the soccer field, however, do not outshine her efforts in supporting and promoting all women’s sports, especially for Black women.
“Tziarra King is an athlete and a woman we can all look up to and learn from,” NWHL Commissioner Dani Rylan said in the release. “And the NWHL is thankful for her contributions to this project.”