Abby Roque, a member of the Navajo Nation and highly-regarded Indigenous player in USA hockey hopes to inspire other players.
The “today show abby roque” is an American hockey player who wants to inspire other Indigenous players. She was born in a small town in Canada, and she grew up playing hockey. Today, she is the captain of the United States Women’s National Hockey Team.
Sault Ste. Marie is located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, just over the river from the Canadian border. Abby Roque grew raised in this area.
“It’s a little town with a strong hockey community,” she said. “In the Sault, that’s the sport to play.”
Roque is a member of the Wahnapitae First Nation in Ontario, Canada. Larry, her uncle, is the tribe’s leader. Roque grew up in a neighborhood full with youngsters from similar circumstances.
“We are a largely Indigenous population,” Roque said. “To me, it was nothing out of the ordinary. There wasn’t much of a separation between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous players on the squad.”
At an early age, Roque developed a passion for hockey. Jim, her father, was a head coach at Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie. He presently works for the Toronto Maple Leafs as a scout.
Jim initially put his daughter on skates in his home rink, and she quickly found herself in the bleachers, watching his team’s training and games. Roque had no knowledge of the options accessible to her as a hockey player. She just wanted to be on the ice as much as possible.
However, as she progressed through the sport’s ranks, she discovered that there were fewer and fewer players who resembled her. For starters, it was due to her gender. Because there were no girls’ teams in the Upper Peninsula, she had to play entirely with guys.
“There was another female in the association for two or three years, she was a year behind me,” Roque said. “But then she moved to Canada and began playing boys hockey in peewees. After that, it was just me for a long time.”
Roque became the first woman to play women’s hockey year-round after committing to the University of Wisconsin and arriving on campus for training camp in 2016. Roque observed there weren’t many players of her background when she first began.
Roque, 24, will make her Olympic debut for the United States women’s national team next month. Roque will be the only BIPOC player on Squad USA’s hockey roster and the first Indigenous player on the team.
“I never realized how few Indigenous hockey players there are throughout the globe,” Roque remarked. “There were so many Indigenous athletes back home, and now I’m the only Indigenous player on the United States women’s team. It’s an exciting time for me, and something I’m really proud of, but it’s also something I want to help change. I’d want to see more Indigenous people join these teams and play the game. It’s a true eye-opener.”
Roque has been tipped as the sport’s next breakthrough star by many in the women’s hockey fraternity. She was a nominee for the Patty Kazmaier Award in 2020, which is presented to the best women’s college hockey player in the United States. She concluded her Wisconsin career ninth in points (170) and seventh in assists (114). She also had a plus-136 rating and scored 21 power-play goals. Hilary Knight, a teammate and soon-to-be four-time Olympian, enthused over Roque, stating, “I believe she will be the finest player on the planet. It’s that easy.”
Roque had to forge her own way to reach to this point. It wasn’t always apparent what the final aim was, and the path wasn’t always straightforward.
Roque exudes self-assurance, which she attributes to her background. Despite her prominence, she received nothing but positive feedback from her inner hockey circle.
“I never played with a single man who didn’t want me on the squad and was so supportive of me,” she added. “‘She’s a female, she can’t play,’ was never an issue. ‘She’s excellent, she should be on the squad,’ it was often said.”
That isn’t to say that everything was always easy. “When you got into complications, there was more individuals on other teams,” Roque said.
Roque claimed she had two distinct emotions on the ice by the time she got to high school and played on the guys’ varsity team. Some of her opponents would approach her and say things like, ‘It’s great to see you out there.’ ‘I heard you’ve decided to stay in Wisconsin, so congratulations.’
“Other teams would attempt to target you, run you into the boards, chirp [at] you,” she said.
What occurred on the ice was never quite as awful as what occurred in the bleachers.
“A lot of parents would yell, ‘Hit the girl!’ or ‘She doesn’t belong here!’” Roque remarked. “Then you’d have some of our parents arguing with them, maybe resulting in a brawl in the rink’s lobby. It was a strange era. Why are people fighting in the rink’s lobby over this, for example? It makes no difference.”
Roque was only in charge of what she could, which was her game. Roque was constantly looking for ways to take advantage of the fact that her physique and skill set were different from those of her male comrades.
“A lot of these lads are taking off with their strength, speed, and size, especially when you get to the high school level,” she added. “My freshman year, I was maybe 5-4 and a [140 pounds], and I was sitting there trying to learn a different game than a lot of these guys.”
She had to be tough despite being the tiniest player on the rink. She figured out how to take checks and turn them into plays.
“I also realized I wasn’t going to be able to beat anybody with my speed or anything like that,” Roque said.
She knew she’d be buried in the boards if she hung on to the puck for too long. As a result, she concentrated on making passes, creating plays, and perceiving the game quicker than the rest of the team.
Hilary Knight said of Abby Roque, “I believe she’s going to be the finest player in the world.” “It’s just plain and basic.” Getty Images/Stacy Revere
Roque played in a few tournaments for Little Caesar’s girls teams, which was her first introduction to female hockey. She said, “It was obviously an adjustment.” “I had to educate myself how to take care of my body.”
Roque’s father invited her to go downstate for a trial with the under-18 women’s world championship squad in 2013. She said, “I had no clue how wonderful the other females would be.” “I didn’t know how I’d stack up.”
Roque turned out to be rather nice. She was asked back for a second audition and was eventually named to the roster. The following year, she was named to the team once again. She had the choice of skating for Canada or the United States since her father is a Canadian citizen; she picked the latter.
“I never gave it any consideration,” she said. “I’m proud of my Canadian ancestors, and my tribe is from Ontario, so having both is intriguing. However, I am an American. I eventually convinced my father to give up his Canadian headwear, but when I returned home for Christmas, I saw a Canadian flag in the garage. ‘Dad, come on!’ I exclaim.”
It was time for Roque to completely switch to the women’s game when she committed to Wisconsin. Coaches were pushing Roque to shoot more and hold onto the puck longer, which was contrary to how she had trained to play male hockey. Containing her own body was a challenge.
“By mistake, I probably received a lot of fines,” she said. “For a check, I once received a two-game penalty. Someone was rushing at me. I just dropped them since I had forgotten about them. They seemed to be attempting to strike me. Then I’m booted from the game. ‘I got four penalties a year in boys hockey, this is insane!’ I exclaim.”
Roque’s experience on boy’s teams surely affected who he is now. She takes pleasure in her hockey IQ and talents, despite her short stature of 5-foot-7. She has a good understanding of the game but isn’t hesitant to dive into the nitty gritty, and she seldom loses bouts.
Roque based her game after the players on her father’s college team when she was little. She adored watching Patrice Bergeron and Rick Nash on the NHL when she got home at night. Women’s hockey still suffers from a lack of visibility; Roque didn’t have many chances to see women play. That is something she wants to alter for future generations.
Roque was overjoyed to find more females at the rink than she had ever seen before when she went home for the holidays. She said, “A few of females were at the rink expressly to see me skate; they wanted to see me skate.” “That was very nice. The significant component, I believe, is that females now recognize they can play.”
Roque didn’t have such awareness when he was younger. Players are potential role models since the Olympics is the highest-profile women’s hockey competition in the world. Roque is more than just a name.
“It’s critical to be able to view someone who looks like you at the level you’d want to see yourself,” she added. “Because you’ll be able to say, ‘Oh, that could be me.’”
At the University of Wisconsin, Roque was a star. Getty Images/Mark Buckner/NCAA Photos
Roque has always been comfortable in a leadership position.
Last year, her dear friend and Wisconsin teammate Sarah Nurse told ESPN, “It’s nice to see her standing in her power because she recognizes she does have a voice.” “She believes she represents a large group of people and can serve as a role model for them; as she walked into campus, she said, ‘This is where I’m from, I made it, this is who my family is.’ It makes me happy to see how proud she is.”
Nurse is a top forward for the Canadian squad, therefore Roque and Nurse will put their relationship aside next month. But, at the end of the day, they all want to make hockey more accessible to everyone. The lack of visibility isn’t the only impediment.
Roque said, “Hockey is one of the most costly sports out there.” “When I was younger, hockey wasn’t that pricey; we made it inexpensive.” We had a lot of sponsors and a lot of fundraisers as a team. When you leave, you realize that some of these organizations charge so much money for individuals to play hockey that it’s out of reach for a lot of families. Then you understand that hockey isn’t exactly a friendly sport.
“You have no notion what’s going on if you don’t know hockey and turn it on. It’s perplexing. If you want to enroll your child in hockey, you may be thinking, “I have no idea what gear they need, do they need shin pads, what kind of shin pads do they need, or even how to put the gear on.” As a result, as hockey fans, we must do all we can to make everyone feel welcome to enjoy the sport.”
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