Every hockey player wants to leave their mark and make a difference on and off the ice. The 200 athletes who converged in Oxford, Ohio, for the 2023 USA Hockey-BioSteel Girls 15 National Player Development Camp were anxious to compete at the week-long camp against old teammates and new opponents and were hopeful to leave a lasting impression.
Chloe Brinson was one of those attendees, and she cherishes the opportunity to leave a mark in every aspect of the game, including off the ice. Her work with both the NHL Power Players and Black Girl Hockey Club gives her a special ability to touch multiple facets of the game.
NHL Power Players is a youth-focused initiative that utilizes young fans to help advise the National Hockey League on hockey-related topics they find valuable to their generation. With the main goal to attract a younger generation of hockey fans to the game, the opportunity has allowed Brinson to not only lean on her on-ice knowledge of the game, but also allows her to employ the knowledge of the social trends of her generation.
“The group mainly focuses on kind of just growing the hockey community, both boys and girls, and they want to focus on just growing it from a younger age aspect,” Brinson said last week in Oxford, Ohio. “A lot of kids, when they're growing up, they kind of play soccer or lacrosse or all those sports, and ice hockey kind of sticks out to a lot of people with rinks not always being close by.”
The group discusses what they see as barriers to entry within the sport, as well as some of the ways hockey is marketed toward their target audience in the U.S. and in Canada. Taking the traditional ways the sport is marketed, the Power Players create new and innovative ways to reach a younger and broader audience. Touching on the pillars of community engagement, marketing, and social content, the NHL Power Players play a crucial role in helping bridge the gap between the younger and older generations. Taking inspiration from the NFL and their highly popular NFL on Nickelodeon concept, the Power Players team created their own version, invoking a popular television show on Disney Channel, “Big City Greens.”
“It’s just like asking what we knew would be fun and what would make the game more interesting from a kid's perspective,” said Brinson. “Because watching a puck kind of going back and forth isn’t the most interesting thing for a lot of people, especially if they don't know the game that well.”
Although the experience of working with the Power Players initiative has been worthwhile to her growth as a young athlete, the experience of meeting new and diverse people through the program has been priceless.
“The hockey community is really small, but just meeting all these people from Washington and Toronto and hearing their stories was really interesting.”
Brinson’s appetite for discovering ways to change the game led her to Black Girl Hockey Club. The BGHC is a non-profit organization with a focus on making hockey more inclusive for Black women, their families, friends and allies. The non-profit awards scholarships to help subsidize the cost of playing hockey for Black girls. The organization also hosts meetups in a variety of different cities to help build community for those looking for BIPOC hockey fans.
A former BGHC scholarship winner, Brinson remembers her first meetup with Black Girl Hockey Club, and the impact the trip had on her.
“They got us together in Washington, and we watched a couple Washington Capitals games, which was really fun,” Brinson recalled. “They also brought us to the National Black History Museum, and it was just meeting other people and just learning more about other people's stories, which was really interesting.”
The community of Black Girl Hockey Club has allowed Brinson to connect with her peers in ways she never thought possible. Being able to feel seen by her teammates and competitors and having an unspoken bond with companions and rivals alike has invigorated Brinson to continue her inspiring work.
Her time with the two influential organizations has left Brinson with huge aspirations. Driven by ambition, Brinson recollects her time playing youth hockey and feeling a sense of loneliness.
Brinson has dreams to continue playing hockey as far as it will take her. Lifting as she climbs, she hopes to create a path for many young girls after her, while continuing to inspire those around her.
“I’ll definitely go as far as I can with hockey,” Brinson concluded. “College teams, U18s, also hopefully making a change with how far I go, and just introducing it to a wider community. You always want to meet new people that are interested in the sport just because you just want to introduce it to such a larger group.”