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Celebrating future hockey leaders

Meet the three young Canadians who recently received Black Girl Hockey Club scholarships as they continue to grow and become leaders in Canada’s game

Shannon Coulter
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February 25, 2022
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With the goal to inspire and sustain passion for hockey in the Black community, the Black Girl Hockey Club (BGHC) works to provide education and community spaces to make hockey more inclusive for Black women and their family, friends and allies. To further assist and encourage Black women to pursue their interest in hockey, BGHC has a scholarship program to help subsidize the costs of the sport.

Andrea Murray, Hailey James and Dayton O’Donoghue were honoured with BGHC scholarships at the beginning of February. Get to know these bright young players who are developing into leaders on their teams and in the game.



Andrea Murray
Hometown: Mississauga, Ont.

Growing up in a sports-oriented family, Murray played ringette with her sister before she decided to try playing a different sport. Her brother and father played hockey, so she followed in their footsteps and gave it a try.

“I wasn’t the greatest at it; I had to take time to get better,” the 18-year-old says. “I did skate, but I could not stick-handle or shoot, so it took some time to get good. Ever since then, I’ve been playing it and I’ve fallen in love with the game.”

One of Murray’s favourite things about playing hockey is the ability to build strong relationships with other young women.

“Hockey isn’t just a sport. You create a family dynamic, both on and off the ice,” says Murray, who plays for the Brampton Canadettes. “The bonds and friendships and the different families you get to meet at the rink is the key and the highlight of the game.”

Through BGHC, Murray has been able to expand her hockey community, particularly by meeting Black players that love the game as much as she does.

“Growing up, I didn’t really have any other Black teammates and when I did see a Black player at the rink, I almost felt some sort of comfort, as it was so nice and reassuring to see other people playing hockey who look just like me,” she says. “The Black Girl Hockey Club has allowed and exposed [me to] so many other Black hockey players from all over North America, and it’s so exciting to see where they go and where they end up.”

This fall, Murray is looking forward to continuing her hockey journey as a member of the women’s hockey team at the University of Waterloo. She also has her eyes on making Canada’s National Women’s Team and potentially representing her country at the Olympics.

“That takes a lot of hard work and dedication, and I’m willing to put all that work in and get exposed to different teams.”

Hailey James
Hometown: Brampton, Ont.

Hockey is a big part of James’ family with her father and brothers playing the game, so she was quick to get on the ice starting at four years old.

“I wanted to try it out and see if I liked it,” says James, 11.

Turns out, she loved it. Her father, Leo, began coaching her minor hockey teams as she started her hockey journey.

For James, one of the best parts about hockey is being able to play with her friends and continuously looking for opportunities to improve her game every time she hits the ice. Her motivation to always do better has translated into great leadership skills with her team, the Scarborough Sharks.

“If they are not playing their position or if they have a rough time playing their position, I usually help them out with it,” she says. “If they need help with something, I help them out… if they think they did something wrong, I make sure that they’re OK and tell them that they didn’t do anything wrong.”

When James found out that she had been awarded a BGHC scholarship, she was delighted.

“I felt excited,” she says. “I told my friends and my favourite teacher and they’re all proud of me.”

Although there are hockey connections in her immediate family, the young left-winger is also inspired by her aunt—Angela James, the first Canadian woman to earn induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame—as she paves her own path in the game. James hopes to follow in her aunt’s footsteps when she’s older by playing at a professional level and representing Team Canada.

“I have an ultimate goal and it’s to follow my aunt and try to be as [great] as her,” James says. “She [gives me advice] all the time… to just try your best and work hard. And if you mess up, just try again until you get it right.”

Dayton O’Donoghue
Hometown: Toronto, Ont.

O’Donoghue was introduced to the sport through her mother after she signed up her older brother for hockey.

“My mom moved to Canada when she was eight years old from Jamaica and hockey was a huge part of Canadian culture,” she says. “I would just tag along as the second child to the rink, but I loved it. I was so captivated by the speed. [My brother] wasn’t able to make one of his ice times, so I jumped on instead.”

Since her first time on the ice, O’Donoghue has fallen in love with the game. Her hockey career has brought many exciting opportunities for the 16-year-old, including becoming a member of the NHL Youth Advisory Board and being a judge for the Breakaway Challenge at this year’s NHL All-Star Skills Competition.

The Toronto Jr. Aeros centre was also recently featured in Bauer’s “The Barn” campaign, where she got to share her hockey journey.

“Being able to be recognized by [Bauer] and then having them share my story on their platform, it was really validation for me that, you know what, I belong in the sport and even if there aren’t a lot of girls that play and there aren’t a lot of Black girls that play, I belong here. I’m loved in this community ,” she says.

The power of the hockey community particularly impacted O’Donoghue when her father passed away early in her hockey career. She found comfort in the support of her teammates and her love of the game.

“No matter how I walk into the arena, upset or really feeling down about my dad one day, I can always walk in and know that if I’m not feeling my best today, I have my teammates to lean on. It’s OK not to be OK.”

This is the second scholarship O’Donoghue has received from BGHC. Not only has the financial support greatly impacted her, but she was also connected into the Saroya Strong mentorship program and receives guidance and leadership from Saroya Tinker, a Team Canada alumna and Premier Hockey Federation standout.

As for the future, O’Donoghue dreams of wearing the Maple Leaf one day and has a goal to play college hockey while completing her post-secondary studies. She is also encouraged by opportunities for hockey to continue to increase its inclusivity and diversity.

“I’m really hopeful that we can continue to get more perspective into our game,” she says. “I feel that is what can make our sport even better, having different opinions and different minds and different people helping to shape our game and continuously evolve it.”

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

[email protected] 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

[email protected]

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

[email protected]

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