BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (WCCO) — The National Hockey League recognizes a woman from Minnesota, taking note of her efforts to diversify the game at the youth level, particularly when it comes to women’s hockey.
Meredith Lang wanted to see her daughters and their friends have a space to play hockey and feel safe and included. It started with the Hockey Niñas and evolved into partnerships that helped form Minnesota Unbounded.
For this, the league nominated Lang for the Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award, which is named after the NHL’s first black player.
“To have all these people supporting us… Minnesota Wild, Minnesota Hockey, every local association our kids play for, it’s just really special,” Lang said.
Mia Lang, his daughter, says she’s more confident playing hockey when she’s not the only person of color on the ice.
But Meredith Lang’s mission is not limited to helping her daughters.
“Here in Minnesota, we should be the pioneers in this space,” Lang said. “So to be able to get votes and win an award at home, and to be the first woman to win the Willie O’Ree Award would be extremely special and allow us to have an even bigger platform in this space.”
That Lang does not win, the mission remains the same.
“I want to encourage others to do this work in their own associations, in their own communities,” Lang said. “You don’t have to be at this level, everyone has work they can do.”
Lang is one of three finalists for the Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award. The winner is determined by Willie O’Ree himself, the NHL and fan voting.
Finalists will receive a $5,000 prize awarded to a charity of their choice. The winner receives $25,000.
To vote for Lang, click here.