WILLIAMSTOWN, MA- Following the death of George Floyd, the longstanding racial
injustices in the United States came to the forefront of many people's minds. The women's ice
hockey team decided to do their part in putting an end to these injustices by raising money for
the Multicultural Berkshire Resources for Integration of Diverse Groups through Education
(BRIDGE), Minnesota Health Justice Network, and Campaign Zero organizations.
"Ice hockey traditionally has struggled with diversity and inclusion," said rising senior
Michaela O'Connor. "We recognized that our program benefits from a tremendous community
and unique privilege, and we wanted to utilize those resources to bring monetary support to black
voices and organizations."
The team started off by researching various organizations that worked to support people who
have been historically discriminated against. They then narrowed down their search to an
initiative in the Berkshire community, in Minnesota where George Floyd was murdered, and
one with a national reach.
Once they found the organizations, the team put together an email list of players and parents
from the last 25 years. This allowed them to spread the word about the campaign and also
identify potential individuals/companies who were able to match donations.
"The success of our fundraiser can be credited to our tremendous hockey community," said
O'Connor. "Being a part of a predominantly white team and sport, we recognize that we have
an even greater responsibility to acquire a vocabulary and knowledge in order to educate
ourselves and advocate for others.
Beyond fundraising, the team is committed to educating themselves and having conversations
about different types of discrimination against minority groups in the United States. They have
compiled a list of books, podcasts, shows, and movies that amplify black voices and can be
used to guide discussions about race and privilege within their community.
"Collectively, we are researching the best ways to create a lasting impact on the sport and its
players that goes beyond this activist period in our history," stated O'Connor. "As a team, we
appreciate that the 'anti-racism journey' is inherently difficult, and we are taking the time to
challenge long held biases within ourselves and our sport."
The fall will look different than it has in the past for the hockey team. They will not be able to
practice as much as they normally would, and can therefore spend more time focused on learning
how to make a positive impact in the Berkshire community and their communities at home as
"I was encouraged to see my team jump into action and begin honest conversations about how
we can be better and make the sport of hockey a more welcoming place," said head coach
Meghan Gillis. "Raising money was just the first piece of what needs to be done in order to make a difference. I was proud of the whole Williams women's hockey family (players, parents, and alums), particularly Michaela [O'Connor], Brynn [Puppe] and Caroline [Dignard] for stepping up."