Black History Month means everything to me.
It’s an opportunity to give back. It’s an opportunity to grow and learn. But most importantly, it’s an opportunity to give thanks for every person who fought for us to be where we are today.
Black History Month for some lasts 28 days. For me, it’s 365.
I think it’s very important to share Black excellence. Growing up as a Black athlete, there were two people I looked up to the most. One was my cousin, Billy Dee Smith. I could write a novel on the impact he had on me as a young kid and still has on me today.
Bandits fans know Billy well. He was one of the best to ever do it at every level, whether it be minor, junior, pros, or even worlds. There has been no greater impact on my life than having him in my family. He made me the player I am today and I cannot thank him enough.
The other athlete I looked up to was Jarome Iginla, the Hall of Fame forward for the Calgary Flames. Watching him excel on the ice not only inspired me to play hockey, but to strive to be the best player and leader I could be.
It was because of the examples set by Billy and Jarome that I felt comfortable playing predominantly white sports growing up. I dedicate my success to those two men and the countless other Black athletes setting an example around the world.
Black History is not just a month. It’s a movement.