BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (WCCO) -- The National Hockey League is recognizing a Minnesota woman, taking notice of her efforts to diversify the game at the youth level, especially when it comes to girls hockey.
Meredith Lang wanted to see her daughters and their friends have a space to play hockey and feel safe and included. That began with the Hockey Niñas and evolved into partnerships that helped form Minnesota Unbounded.
For that, the league has nominated Lang for the Willie O'Ree Community Hero Award, which is named after the NHL's first Black player.
"To have all these people that are supporting us...Minnesota Wild, Minnesota Hockey, each local association that our kids play for, it's just extremely special," Lang said.
Mia Lang, her daughter, says that she's more confident playing hockey when she's not the only person of color on the ice.
But Meredith Lang's mission is beyond just helping her daughters.
"Here in Minnesota, we should be the trailblazers in this space," Lang said. "So, to be able to get votes and actually bring home an award, and to be the first woman to win the Willie O'Ree Award would be extremely special and allow us to have an even bigger platform in this space."
Whether to not Lang wins, the mission remains the same.
"I want to encourage others to do this work in their own associations, in their own communities," Lang said. "You don't have to be on this level, everybody has work that they can be doing."
Lang is one of three finalists for the Willie O'Ree Community Hero Award. The winner is determined by Willie O'Ree himself, the NHL and fan voting.
Finalists will have a $5,000 prize donated to a charity of their choice. The winner gets $25,000.
To vote for Lang, click here.
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