Courtesy of Blake Bolden


Hockey for All

Blake Bolden ’13 was the first Black woman to compete in the National Women’s Hockey League. Now she’s determined to diversify the sport she loves.

Growing up in Ohio, Blake Bolden ’13 was consumed by a sport with little room for her. Bolden’s relationship with ice hockey was “love at first glide,” she said, but her only option for playing was on teams where, more often than not, she was the sole girl on the ice and the only person of color. She refused to let that intimidate her, however. “I learned how to thrive in places I felt uncomfortable,” she said. “When you grow up the way I did, standing out was almost a moot point.”

Now 29, Bolden continues to stand out. A pro scout for the Los Angeles Kings—the second-ever female scout in the National Hockey League—she was recently named to Sports Illustrated’s “The Unrelenting,” a list of standout women in sports, including Serena Williams, Billie Jean King, and Simone Biles, who fight for issues such as gender equality and social justice. “I got tingles as I was scrolling down the list,” Bolden said of the honor. “I can’t even believe I’m on a list with these women I idolize.”

Bolden’s perseverance as a young hockey player led her to BC in 2009. In her four years playing defense, she made three Frozen Four appearances, was named 2013’s Hockey East Defensive Player of the Year, and earned All-American honors. After graduation, she joined the Boston Blades of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League and helped propel them to the league championship. She also tried out for the 2014 U.S. Olympic team. When she didn’t make it, she almost quit the sport at age 22. “I was so depressed,” Bolden said. “But I decided I could sit on my butt and mope about it, or find a new way to succeed.” So she went on to become the first Black woman to compete in the National Women’s Hockey League, where she made three All-Star teams and helped the Boston Pride win the 2016 championship. In 2019, she was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Bolden was increasingly attracting attention, for her play on the ice and for what she represented to her many young fans. Parents of the kids waiting for autographs “would tell me, ‘You’re my little girl’s favorite player,’” she said. “‘We've never seen someone who looks like you play at this level and it's huge.’”

Today, Bolden is more than just a pro scout for the Kings—she’s also the team’s growth and inclusion specialist, meaning she works every day to diversify the sport she loves. (In addition, she runs a private coaching and mentoring business, Blake Bolden Athletics.) “I am fulfilling a purpose so much bigger than myself,” she said, recalling that she didn’t always feel welcome on the ice. “I can speak my truth and inspire others to know that when one door closes, another one always opens.”