Name: Kryshanda Green
Education: B.A., Politics and Governance, Ryerson University; Criminal Justice and Criminology, Graduate Certificate, Ryerson University; Hockey Player
Years of Experience: 22 years
When you were a child, did you envision becoming what you are now?
As a child, I always believed I would play hockey for a very long time; but I was also aware that it wouldn’t last. I used to say marine biology or song writing whenever adults would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up. There was very little representation of Black women in sports, therefore I attached my focus to the likes of Venus and Serena Williams. To see that I can be a catalyst for change and continue to play the game I love is something I never would have imagined. My hope is that Black woman will have a plethora of Black players to look up to and aspire to be in the future.
Can you please tell us about your journey?
I began my journey in hockey at the age of three—crying my eyes out, while holding onto the boards and begging my mother to release me from that cold bitter h–, well…maybe it wasn’t so bad. I ended up giving in and started my skating journey as one of the fastest young players in Brampton. The only issue: I couldn’t stop. Literally. I was a late bloomer and didn’t learn the mechanics of stopping on both sides until age 12. They call me “Krash” to this day because of it. I spent nine years playing in Brampton and then expanded to other organizations in hopes of making it to the top. Once I got to university, I exploded with ambition. A tougher, faster and smarter league was everything I had dreamed of while playing at Western University. I was named a top 3 rookie in the league. Unfortunately, my journey was short-lived as I dropped out after my first year. Three years later, I reached out to an old teammate and told her I wanted to lace up the skates again. That was the beginning of my birth at Ryerson University. In my third year on the team, I became Ryerson’s first Black captain. I broke the all-time points record and shared continued success with my teammates in the program. By my final year, I knew I had a calling, an opportunity to use my voice to be the representation I longed for as a child. I am a Black woman hockey player breaking barriers and changing the game and the best part is, I’m not alone.
When did you realize you have arrived (or become successful)?
It was always difficult for me to gauge my success while playing. I struggled to determine the appropriate measurement that would indicate that I had arrived. What I mean by that is, I questioned whether my individual greatness would define who I am or my impact on those around me? I ultimately decided to focus on my influence at Ryerson University. Becoming the first Black captain was exciting! But realizing that MY representation opened the doors for young Black people and young people of colour to dream bigger is an irreplaceable feeling.
What obstacles did you face?
I faced many obstacles while trying to pursue my goals. The gatekeepers of hockey did not look like me and I did not feel represented. I travelled blindly through the game, trying to figure out what and who I could become. Over time, I began to face racism and prejudice on the ice and in the dressing room at a young age. I was called the n-word at age 11 and some of my teammates were unaware of the history and pain that came with that slur. Others recognized the awfulness of uttering such language. Overall, the majority of players I joined and grew up with were allies. As time progressed, prejudice views weaved their way through the game, changing shape and terminology. At times, instead of the n-word, I was called a thug or given the “angry Black woman” stereotype. It was hard for me to navigate through polite racism and negative racial undertones.
What current obstacles do you face?
I currently face the ill effects of racism every day, but still I rise. I still have to prove myself in every arena and office I step into; but the difference is, today I know exactly what side of history I plan to promote and what my legacy means to others.
What are the skills you need to succeed in this profession?
Resiliency and confidence are imperative skills needed in order to be successful in the game of hockey. Resiliency will lead you through the darkness and allow the reproduction of light to help guide you (no matter how dim). Confidence will be your armour; it will shield you from the naysayers and the gatekeepers with complex locks.
What advice would you give to others aspiring to be where you are now?
I would say do not hold back. Find your voice, fight for your path and prove them wrong, in every area. Hard work cannot only be present during the fun and inspiring moments in life, hard work is tested in the details and extra hours.
Can you please share one goal you have achieved that you are extremely proud of?
I currently sit as a member of the Youth Hockey Inclusion Council for the NHL and I now have the ability to create a real impact on young hockey players all across the world.