ROCKVILLE, Md. (WDVM) – Traci Thompson didn’t start watching hockey until 2012.
“Seeing people of color on the team. And that really like piqued my interest,” Thompson said. “Joel Ward, he’s who I saw initially that drew me in. And then I fell in love with the Caps and then I fell in love with the game.”
Thompson, who is black, has become a huge Capitals fan since, and so has her family.
“It’s encouraging to see so many young players of color coming up and getting their shots,” Thompson said.
Thompson and fans of all races and ages visited the NHL’s black hockey history tour pop-up museum outside of the Rockville Ice Arena on Friday. Washington, D.C. is the fifth of 28 stops for the truck, throughout the United States and Canada, on its four month-long trip. Thompson told WDVM that it was an easy decision to make the approximately 40-minute drive from Hyattsville to see the exhibit.
The exhibit, presented in a truck, is being hosted by the Washington Capitals. It will also be displayed outside of Skatequest in Reston, Virginia, on Saturday from Noon to 6 p.m. Museum admission is free and masks are required.
“They know some of the players that are currently in the league and they’ve seen you know that they see on TV that maybe that you know, won a Stanley Cup with the caps in [Devante] Smith-Pelly and [Madison] Bowey,” Capitals director of Youth Hockey Development Peter Robinson said. “They’re in there, they’re walking around, they’re like, ‘wow, this is really cool, oh I get it,’ you know, it’s really special.”
In addition to hosting the museum, the Capitals are currently raising money for the Fort Dupont Cannons of Southeast D.C., by selling co-branded Capitals and Fort Dupont t-shirts and other gear. The Cannons are the oldest minority hockey program in North America, and are also featured in the museum. You can find more info on the fundraiser here.
7-year-old Jordan Goodman of Silver Spring, Maryland, who is multiracial, plays youth hockey. Goodman visited the museum with his father Eric.
“My skin color has earned it to be one of the black people who, black kids, who play hockey,” Goodman said, noting the color of his skin as he stood in front of a display of black players in the NHL.
While Goodman said he is a Rangers fan and recently took a liking in the NHL’s expansion team, the Seattle Kraken, the museum hosted by the Caps, was just as meaningful to him, as it was to Thompson, and others.
The museum, is a travelling example of why representation matters.
“Having seen people that look like us in these major sports and getting attention,” Thompson said. “It can’t do anything but I believe, make it grow.”
Photo of Joel Ward in video is courtesy of the Associated Press.