By Dillon Thomas

DENVER (CBS4) – As the Colorado Avalanche close in on their first Stanley Cup Final championship in more than 20 years, the sport of hockey is gaining more and more fans throughout the region. People of all ages and backgrounds are starting to show interest in the sport after never watching it before. However, as the sport grows, some local Coloradans are hoping the diversity within the game will as well.

“There are very few Black and brown fans in the stands,” said Kristen Wallace, a fan of the game and the Colorado Avalanche. “We know that hockey is a majority white sport.”

Wallace, a Black woman, grew up watching hockey. Her love for the game has stayed strong and has only been reaffirmed as the Avalanche thrive. However, Wallace is not the only Black fan of hockey that has noticed the sport’s lack of diversity across the board.

(credit: CBS)

“There aren’t a lot of fans that look like me,” said Danielle Adams, a local hockey fan.

Adams, also a member of Colorado’s Black community, is now a member of the “Black Girls Hockey Club.” The organization is a national movement, operated by men and women from many backgrounds, that is trying to bring more diversity within the sport.

While the organization’s name may suggest they are trying to focus on exposing Black girls to the sport, the organization has a mission to make sure hockey is made available to people of all backgrounds and communities.

(credit: CBS)

Adams told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas the Black Girl Hockey Club was recently recognized by the Colorado Avalanche for their efforts. The Avs agreed to make a pledge to get uncomfortable and address any barriers within the sport that are keeping diversity away.

“The Colorado Avalanche firmly believe that hockey is for everyone. We support Black Girl Hockey Club’s mission to make sports, specifically hockey, welcoming and safe for all people including our BIPOC and underrepresented fans. In partnering with BGHC, we are committing to listening, learning, and being a partner to help ensure an inclusive experience for everyone,” said Meredith Lavery, VP of Marketing for the Avs.

Adams said one of the main barriers that keeps people away from hockey is the price to get started. Gear, access to hockey rinks and more can become very costly, and tickets to games are not cheap.

“There is a financial barrier to access to the game, but it is also creating education so that folks feel welcomed,” Adams said. “(We are doing this) so that the sport feels safe from every perspective for fans, players, youth coaches and players.”

Those from BIPOC communities applauded the Avs for their commitment to make the game more inclusive here in Denver.

“(Their participation) will make sure the sport is accessible to everyone. Black or brown, BIPOC girls and boys across the Denver community.”

Kristen Wallace said her love for the game is strong, but said she has been disheartened by words that she has heard while in the crowd at games of all levels.

“There are times at games where there are comments made by other fans, not specifically at me, but around me that are uncomfortable,” Wallace said.

Both Wallace and Adams said it takes the entire hockey community to make sure the game is more inclusive. By expanding the reach of the game to all communities, the future of the sport can truly be for everyone.

“It’s going to be more inclusive; it is going to change, it is going to be dynamic,” Adams said. “I know I am going to see a lot more faces that look like mine and that of my children.”

Dillon Thomas