Minnesota’s Meredith Lang named NHL Willie O’Ree Community Hero finalist

[anvplayer video=”5100940″ station=”998130″]

Hockey is for everyone. That’s why Minneapolis, Minnesota native Meredith Lang created two groups to make sure girls of color know they have a place in the sport, and her efforts have earned her a top three finalist spot for the NHL’s Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award.

"Could not believe the news that I was hearing," Lang said about first hearing she was a finalist. "Especially because the work I do is just so personal to me. The fact that somebody else like Willie O’Ree of all people thought that I was worthy to receive this award was a complete honor."

The announcement was made on Monday, and the winner will receive $25,000 to donate to a charity of their choice.

Lang co-founded both the Hockey Niñas and, along with Tina Kampa, the Minnesota Unbounded organization. Unbounded is a league comprised entirely of girls and women of color on the ice as players and behind the bench as coaches. She’s helped reach over 50 families from 20 different organizations on U10 through U14 teams spanning from Minneapolis to Mexico, and New York to California.

"The Hockey Niñas was just a place that allowed me to start, encourage other kids of color to play the game. That’s where it stopped," Lang said. "But to be a co-founder of Minnesota Unbounded allows me to use those resources to really come together for our families and provide positive experiences in the game of hockey."

Voting for the O’Ree Award is open until April 17th. The winner will be announced this June.