Saroya Tinker, recent Yale graduate and 1st round 4th overall draft pick for NWHL’s Metropolitan Riveters, is certainly proving she is going to not let her spotlight go to waste.
The reason why Tinker has been flooding the hockey feeds is due to her being very active and vocal regarding social justice in both her native country of Canada and the United States. She has been featured in conversations with the Black Girl Hockey Club on two separate occasions, “Sports Talk with Erica L. Ayala” and Simply Sporty Chic’s “Out of Bounds” Instagram Live discussion.
Now, as she prepares for her rookie season in the NWHL, her various discussions on Instagram and YouTube have truly been an inspiration to witness as she aids in the fight against racism.
As she points out a few ways the hockey world can promote change, one of the key points focuses on how every hockey player must educate themselves to understand their teammates, especially those who are a minority.
Tinker discussed on multiple occasions that she found herself to be the only black player on her team growing up and even at Yale. She discussed on Sports Talk with Erica L. Ayala that she almost did not want to play professional hockey due to the fact that she felt alone in a white space.
Hearing those words from an extremely talented player can make a person wonder how many other minority players gave up playing professionally because they feel like an outcast?
Thankfully, Tinker discovered that she can make a difference in the sport by using her voice and having the courage to stand up for what is right.
When asked about her conversations with Black Girl Hockey Club and what she hopes will change in the sport of hockey she explained,
“ After speaking with other women of color in the sport, I think the main thing I would like to see change is coaches stepping up and getting to know their players on a deeper level. Additionally, I think it will be very beneficial for our white teammates to educate themselves to a point at which they are comfortable calling other teammates out when inappropriate comments are made. Lastly, I hope to continue to diversify the world of hockey by finding ways to include Black players and make the game affordable for all to play.”
Tinker clearly understands there is not just one aspect in the sport that needs to be changed, there are multiple pieces that can be altered in order to be make the game inclusive for all. From the coaches understanding their players, white teammates understanding how to speak out against inappropriate comments and hockey being more affordable in general.
As Tinker continues to use her voice, she conducted her own fundraiser; in which her goal was to raise $3,000 to be donated to various organizations that included: Loveland Foundation, Black Girl Hockey Club and the Equal Justice Foundation. All of these were chosen specifically as Tinker explained she admires the work they continue to do, and some have even helped her personally.
“…Black Girl Hockey Club is a club that holds dear to my heart as it is one of the first spaces where I feel comfortable being my whole self and that is, with hockey. Previously, I have felt like I have needed to leave my Blackness at home before entering the rink, but with Black Girl Hockey Club I don’t have to do that.”
Making significant change is not going to come overnight, nor is it going to happen with just one player aiming to make a change. To make change, it is going to require whole organizations such as the NWHL, PWHPA and the NHL, to lead the movement to making hockey inclusive for all.
Women’s Hockey Life is dedicated to be a part of this change as well and as we move forward, we will continue to help make a serious positive change in the world of hockey on all levels.