Laila Edwards is making history in U.S. hockey.
“It’s an honor to be the first Black woman on the national team, but this team’s been around for a long time,” Edwards said in a statement. “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.”
“It’s about time,” Edwards also told The Athletic. “Now young girls can look at the highest level and see someone that looks like that. It adds extra motivation and inspiration. I like to be a role model for anyone, but more specifically for young people of color.”
“It’s overwhelming, but in a good way,” she continued. “It’s a privilege to be able to call something like this overwhelming. I’m very proud to be in this position.”
“Sometimes it can be discouraging to not see people that look like you, but we have to start somewhere,” Edwards added. “I hope that what I’m doing this week is a big start and people continue to try and make the game more diverse and inclusive.”
Team USA coach John Wroblewski had high praise for the history maker.
“I don’t think there’s another woman like her in the game right now," Wroblewski said.
“Her hockey IQ is off the charts,” he continued. “I would call her like a quarterback of sorts, because she’s able to see the little easy chip play. She makes those little short plays look easy with her deception and her vision.”
Edwards initially started figure skating at three years old. She transitioned to hockey at around age six.
The star athlete previously won Most Valuable Player at the IIHF Under-19 Women’s World Championship. During her freshman year at the University of Wisconsin, Edwards helped lead her team to their seventh national championship.