DC area mom considered for O’Ree Award
For Ellicott City hockey mom Tammi Lynch, youth hockey is a regular occurrence. She goes to games, watches her son play, and has fun. But in January 2019, her enjoyment took a turn for the worse. At one game, her son’s teammate on the Metro Maple Leafs Divyne Apollon was met with several boos and racial slurs. Tammi Lynch took her offense at these statements and used them to start a movement, one to spread far beyond D.C.
Lynch went home and created an image: the word “racism” crossed out with a hockey stick. This story was alerted nationwide, with many players wearing the logo on their jerseys. What started as a way to share Divyne’s story and cancel out hate became a movement. Divyne even received support of Capitals players John Carlson and Devante Smith Pelly. The team and Lynch teamed up to create Players Against Hate. PAH aims to educate players and coaches, sponsor education and promotions for minority athletes, and overall encourage a more welcoming environment in the game. The organization also hopes to expand beyond hockey and address prejudice in all youth sports. Hockey is stronger than hate, and Tammi Lynch’s tenacity has more than proven this to be so.
Lynch’s story highlights the continued lack of diversity in hockey. Though things have gotten better, the game still has far to go with welcoming diverse players. This fun and unique sport should be enjoyed by more people, but the slurs and jeers are not encouraging these kids to play if they are not welcome. Perhaps, with more awareness campaigns like this one, the hockey community can understand the magnitude of the problem. Hockey is a game that should be enjoyed by everyone. There is no place for hatred in this community. Lynch has helped to make the game as welcoming as possible. Fellow hockey mom Vanessa Bauer was moved by the story and nominated Lynch for the Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award.
The Willie O’Ree Award was established by the NHL last year and is delivered to “an individual who–through the game of hockey–has positively impacted his or her community, culture, or society.” It was named for Willie O’Ree, the first black player to play in the NHL. He also oversees the nominating process for the award. Given how this story mirror’s O’Ree’s own struggles, it makes sense to have Lynch nominated for the award bearing his name. Even this nomination has drawn awareness to the story and spread it across the country. With this journey, she has impacted the community for the better.
Fans are encouraged to vote on the award. It will be presented with the other NHL Awards at the ceremony on June 19 in Las Vegas. To vote for Tammi, log on here: