Hockey Is For Everybody
By Anthony Walsh
When it comes to professions and sports, we as African Americans already know we can be anything we desire to be, demonstrating this time and time again. It’s important that we let our children know this early on, and continuously. However, when it comes to sports, there are those who stereotype us into certain sports. Anthony Walsh superbly addresses this practice and the issue of acceptance in his children’s book, Hockey Is For Everybody.
12-year-old Anthony loves hockey and playing for his team, the Monarchs. However, he has also been dealing with racism. Leading the pack of antagonists was Jason, a player from their rival team the Cardinals. Slurs, teasing, and comments implying that Black men belonged on a basketball court and not an ice rink were frequent, in an effort to get under his skin and throw him off his game.
It was hard for Anthony to keep his cool in spite of the mean-spirited words that made him feel like less of a person when he knew otherwise, but he knew what the repercussions would be if he didn’t.
On the plus side, his best friend and teammate Matt is there to stand with him as they face the championship game against the Cardinals. As he faces down his archrival Jason, will Anthony and the Monarchs stand fast to triumph, and demonstrate a valuable lesson for all involved?
Walsh brings the personal insight of one who has lived it, having attended Edina High School, a predominately white suburban high school. He challenged the profiling of Black athletes when Edina High’s hockey team became Minnesota’s 2013 AA State Champions. I liked the quote he included at the end by Ayesha Siddiqi, “Be the person you needed when you were younger.” By coaching youth hockey, this has been one of the ways he is paying it forward.
This book is also another way to pay it forward. Walsh, with the marvelous illustrations of Justine Allentree Ross, reminds us of the value of a strong, empowering support system. Indeed, hockey is not limited to an elite group; everybody can play and excel at it and any other sport.
Hockey is for Everybody is available through Strive Publishing and Amazon.
Representation matters, Anthony, and you are representing well. Yours is another of the books I wished were available when I was a child, and I’m pleased that they are here now. Continue to change the narrative!