Blake Bolden Brings Her Mentorship Program To Play It Again Sports – Forbes Leave a comment

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 25: Blake Bolden, the first Black player to compete in the … [+] National Women’s Hockey League appears at Los Angeles City Hall on February 25, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
As a child learning to skate in Ohio, Blake Bolden relied on used equipment to get her hockey dreams off the ground. Today, the Los Angeles Kings scout has partnered with Play It Again Sports, the very organization that helped her get on the ice.
“That’s how I first got all of my equipment to play ice hockey, so there’s a really good symbiotic connection there. When they reached out to me to see what I was up to, I was like, let’s collaborate and let’s change some lives,” Bolden told me in an interview last month.
Bolden, Play It Again Sports and Winmark launched the emBolden her Mentorship Initiative in October. Twenty-five girls from the United States and Canada from ages 13 to 16 years old were selected to participate in the six-month virtual program. Bolden will meet with the cohort each Saturday to discuss topics such as goal setting, time management, nutrition, and more.
“They want to learn how to be bold. That is the mission. That’s the goal. Being bold, setting those goals, achieving them, learning how to be strong and powerful with their voices,” said Bolden about the program.
Girls ice hockey is one of the fastest-growing sports in North America and the emBolden her Mentorship Initiative seeks to continue that growth by catching girls at an age where a variety of factors may dissuade them from continuing on. According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, contributing factors include:

Bolden seeks to mitigate these factors with her program, which provides resources including a workbook where participants can learn how to set and measure their goals, and to properly fuel their mind and body ahead of a game.
When I joked I needed a copy of the materials, Bolden mentioned she too works through the program with the participants. “I have my own workbook. I’m just trying to be who I’m telling these girls to be. Don’t be a hypocrite, you got to be bold, you got to stand up for what you believe in!”
LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 26: LA Kings scout Blake Bolden poses in front of the Black Hockey … [+] History Museum before the game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Los Angeles Kings at STAPLES Center on February 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images)
You’d be hard-pressed to call Bolden a hypocrite.
Since her time at Boston College and her professional women’s ice hockey in Boston, she has consistently given back to the next generation through mentorship. The two-time professional champion – first for the Boston Blades and then the Boston Pride – worked for a local non-profit and eventually started Blake Bolden Athletics.
She worked hard to find her place in hockey and made a lot of history along the way. Her current role with the Kings crowned her the first Black woman scout in the National Hockey League.
With the Blades, she was the first Black woman drafted to the now-defunct Canadian Women’s Hockey League. In 2015, she became the first Black woman to compete in the National Women’s Hockey League (renamed the Premier Hockey Federation in 2021), followed that season by Cherie Stewart and in other years by BC teammate Kaliya Johnson, the first Black NCAA women’s ice hockey head coach Kelsey Koelzer, and active members of the Toronto Six Saroya Tinker and Mikyla Grant-Mentis.
Bolden didn’t set out to be the “first” in any category, but she has intentionally built her career around ensuring she isn’t the last. Along the way, Bolden herself has had to take bold steps, such as learning how to be an entrepreneur or traveling to Switzerland to live out a dream of playing professional hockey outside of North America.
“I would say some of my favorite things are looking at something that seems so far out of reach and being able to achieve it or obtain it. I think it’s empowering to be able to shatter glass ceilings. And I think in shattering those glass ceilings, you’re able to make space and room for other people.”
FOXBORO, MA – DECEMBER 31: Blake Bolden #10 of Boston Pride skates during warm-up prior to the … [+] Women’s Classic Hockey Game as part of the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Classic at Gillette Stadium on December 31, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will take place on New Year’s Day with the Montreal Canadiens playing the Boston Bruins. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
From building a business and a brand to leaving home, these things scared Bolden. It was her faith in herself and the guidance of trusted family and friends that helped her tap into her self-confidence and forge ahead.
“For a long, long time, I was afraid. And I know everybody’s afraid of what people think of them to an extent … you don’t want to disappoint anybody. But if you can be true to you, then that’s all. That’s all you got. That’s all you can stick with.”
Today, Bolden embraces her pioneering spirit and place within hockey and the sports world. She has always been Blake Bolden, but there came a time where she fully embraced what it means to be bold. Now, she is sharing that with others through her new partnership with Play It Again Sports and Winmark.
“Don’t look back and jump out of that moving plane (figuratively, or otherwise). Just have confidence in yourself that you can do whatever you set your mind to,” Bolden shared.
When she’s not working with the Kings or her cohort of young athletes on Saturdays, you can find Bolden contributing to the NHL on ESPN broadcast team. Oh, she also went from scoring with used equipment from Play it Again Sports to becoming the first woman to have a signature ice hockey stick with Verbero Hockey.
Two more firsts to add to the list.

I am a New York-based freelance multimedia journalist covering women’s basketball & hockey, and soccer for outlets such as The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, The

I am a New York-based freelance multimedia journalist covering women’s basketball & hockey, and soccer for outlets such as The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, The Athletic, espnW, The Washington Post, and is the Hockey Friday writer for The IX Newsletter. 
I have 15 years of youth justice advocacy experience at the local, state, and national level and have worked as a national facilitator and state office staffer for the Children’s Defense Fund, specifically with the Freedom Schools® summer literacy program. At CDF New York, I facilitated community-led training for School Safety Officers as part of the Parent Action Committee and Dignity in Schools campaign. In 2015, I was selected to serve on the Mayor’s Leadership Team on School Climate and Discipline. 
I received her B.A in Political Science, with a minor in African-American Studies from Elon University where I also lettered in softball. I completed her Master of Public Administration degree at the NYU Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service in May 2016.


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