Laila Edwards is first Black woman to play for U.S. hockey team
Laila Edwards became the first Black woman to play for the U.S. senior national hockey team when she took the ice against Canada in a rivalry series game Saturday.
Edwards, a 19-year-old Wisconsin sophomore, was on a forward line with Olympian Abby Roque and Badgers teammate Britta Curl in Los Angeles.
“It’s an honor to be the first Black woman on the national team, but this team’s been around for a long time,” she said before the game, according to Andscape. “And not to sound ungrateful, but it would have been nice to have someone that looked like me on that team before me. I’m glad that I’m able to be that someone for another little Black girl out there.”
Edwards is the lone player on the roster of 26 who is making her senior national team debut. At 6 feet, 1 inch, she is the tallest skater between the U.S. and Canadian rosters.
“The way she can rip the puck, it looks like it’s about to break the glass or rip the netting,” four-time Olympian Hilary Knight said, according to the Athletic. “I wish I had all those things at that age.”
The team includes 22 players from last April’s world championship roster, a sign that Edwards is in the running for the 2024 Worlds.
“She’s earned her way into this position,” U.S. head coach John Wroblewski said, according to NHL.com. “I believe in her long-term, otherwise she wouldn’t be here.”
Edwards was MVP of the June 2022 World U18 Championship. She missed her high school graduation ceremony to participate.
This past March, she helped Wisconsin win the NCAA title and was one of five Badgers named to the Frozen Four all-tournament team. Chayla, her older sister by three years, is also on the Wisconsin team.
Come 2026, Edwards can become the second Black player on a U.S. Olympic hockey team after Jordan Greenway played for the men in 2018.