They’re helping to bring diversity to hockey!
Myles Jack was drafted to the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2016, with the linebacker making quite a name for himself during his six seasons in the NFL. In 2022, he played his last season with the Pittsburgh Steelers, retiring at the age of 28, just two weeks after signing with the Philadelphia Eagles. Now that his pro-football career is completed, Jack has transitioned into the business world, and he’s already shaking the field up, The Grio reports.
Jack and his mother, LaSonjia Jack, recently acquired the Texas-based Allen Americans, an East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) affiliate of the Ottawa Senators. The acquisition is historic, with Jack and his mother becoming the first Black majority owners of the professional hockey team. For Jack, he plans to bring his same passion from the NFL to the world of hockey.
“From the football field to the business world, I have always brought passion and leadership to my teams. The opportunity to lead this franchise and serve our great fans is an incredible responsibility. I’m excited to bring a first-class, family friendly entertainment option to this community alongside our great partners,” said Jack.
The new owners are coming in just as diversity is on the rise in the National Hockey League and the world of professional hockey at large. NHL executive vice president Kim Davis joined in 2017 and has been championing diversity ever since. Davis previously acknowledged the lack of diversity in the over 100 year old organization, calling the issue in hockey a microcosm of larger societal ills.
“I believe society has a racism problem. To categorize this as a ‘hockey problem’ minimizes our ability to use this moment in our sport to understand that we are a microcosm of society. This change is going to be evolutionary, not revolutionary,” said Davis.
Since Davis’ inception, the league has seen a lot of change and that change has reverberating effects in the world of hockey. In 2020, Blake Bolden became the first and only Black woman scout in the National Hockey League. That same year, 18-year-old Quinton Byfield broke records as the highest-drafted Black player in NHL history. In 2021, Jason Payne made history as the first Black coach in the Cincinnati Cyclones 30+ year history. And in 2022, Mike Grier became the first Black general manager (GM) in the history of the NHL. Earlier this year Tennessee State University (TSU) also announced the addition of ice hockey to its athletic roster, making history as the first historically Black college or university to offer the sport.
“Together, we celebrate the power of collaboration as we dismantle barriers, diversify the game, and propel hockey into a new era of inclusivity. This partnership serves as a catalyst, driving change and ensuring that the game we love embraces the beauty of diversity. With Tennessee State University, the NHL, and the Nashville Predators working hand in hand, we have the potential to reshape the future of hockey and inspire generations to come. Together, we will forge a path towards a more inclusive and united hockey community,” said Dr. Mikki Allen, TSU Director of Athletics, via statement.
As hockey experiences a resurgence of diversity, reliving the heydays of Willie O’Ree and other pioneering Black figures in the sport, the new acquisition from Jack and his mother mark a moment of diversity in ownership, as well. The moment is sure to create new pathways for African Americans in the sport as they prepare to take ownership ahead of the team’s 15th ECHL season.
“The ECHL is thrilled to welcome Myles and LaSonjia Jack to the League and further the Allen Americans tradition.,” said ECHL Commissioner Ryan Crelin.
Photo by Jason Pohuski / CSM / Shutterstock