Indigenous hockey player Abby Roque aims to make history in Beijing

Abby Roque faces Canada on the My Why Tour on October 22, 2021 in Allentown, PA.

“I was the only girl,” she told Today.

That would change when she got involved with USA Hockey and then reached the powerful University of Wisconsin program. Roque won gold and silver medals with the U.S. team at the under-18 world championships in 2015 and 2014, respectively.

She made her mark in Wisconsin by leading the Badgers to the 2019 national championship and being named one of three finalists for the 2020 Patty Kazmaier Award for the best player in college girls’ hockey.

Since joining the senior national team, Roque has been selected to play in a pair of world championships. The 2020 tournament was canceled due to COVID-19, and she won a silver medal earlier this year.

The Wahnapitae de Roque First Nation tribe is based in northern Ontario and has dual American and Canadian citizenship. She is proud of her background and spoke about it with Today during this – Native American Heritage Month.

“There aren’t a lot of native players playing, especially in the US, so a big chunk for me is trying to show you can do it,” Roque said. “You want to make hockey more diverse.

“My family at home, they obviously do a lot of ceremonies and powwows, and my cousin is a dancer… Where I’m from is all around you.”

Despite his relative youth, Roque visibly impressed veteran Team USA players and coaches.

“You have to be really hungry to be able to go there every day and want to learn,” said three-time Olympic medalist and US teammate Hilary Knight today. “And I see it in her.”

US coach Joel Johnson told Today: “She just has a unique ability to make an impact on her teammates and an incredible impact on the game itself.”

And Roque’s influence will continue to extend far beyond sports.

“It’s great to be able to speak and teach my Native American culture and the culture of our specific community,” Roque told USA Hockey in January. “When I left I didn’t realize how small the number of Native American hockey players was, so for me I’m doing all I can to help do things to make hockey more possible. inclusive. “

Catherine J. Martinez