Today marks one year since the nationwide College Hockey for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion initiative was publicly announced, and the NCHC has proudly maintained its involvement.
Omaha assistant coach Paul Jerrard has been a committee member since the initiative’s creation. Outgoing NCHC commissioner Josh Fenton has stayed on as a working group leadership member while he transitions toward his new role as commissioner of the Summit League.
Committee members, including players, coaches and administrators from schools across nine conferences, typically meet once a month over Zoom. Their next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 16, and the group is planning to soon launch a service announcement campaign.
“It’s a lot of short storytelling, and getting to know people,” Jerrard said of the group’s meetings. “We’re also now in the process of hopefully, in the next little bit here, putting out some video content into the college hockey world about who we are and what we stand for.
“We’ve been doing some work behind the scenes, even though it’s difficult with everyone’s schedules, and people going here, there and everywhere. To get times to sit down and have those meetings to get stuff done is a process, but we’re feeling good about what we’ve done and what we’re looking forward to getting out. ”
Several committee members have shared their stories through media outlets. For example, former North Dakota forward and current San Jose Sharks forward Jasper Weatherby in 2020 spoke with the Grand Forks Herald about growing up with a Black adopted brother from Costa Rica, who was found to be a descendant of an enslaved Nigerian taken to Jamaica.
Initiative members have also worked with RISE, a national organization that promotes equality at all levels of sports.
“We did some workshops with them in our previous meetings, going into last spring,” Jerrard said. “That was really neat and educational, especially for people of color, like myself, who have grown up in that world with some of the things, microaggressions, that happen on a daily basis that people do not deem as racist, but really they are. ”
Jerrard also praised Omaha’s players for backing College Hockey for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion’s efforts.
“With our team, we have some guys that have been very interested in hot-button topics, like after (the 2020 murder of) George Floyd, and wanting to do something,” Jerrard said. “We have guys on our team who are very supportive, and our leadership group in our team is good about getting involved in some of the things and letting people know that support is there.
“We’re letting the college hockey world know that we’re out there, and that we’re an entity that can help people that have diversity and inclusion issues by helping them grow by sharing our stories. When something bad happens to people, it’s comforting to know that there are people who might have been in similar situations that can help other people out. ”
The initiative, which lists many educational resources on its website, continues to move in the right direction. That will help ensure the group’s success grows here in its second year, and beyond.
“We’re meeting people, feeling people out and growing our networks,” Jerrard said. “We’re making some progress, but we want our progress to be lasting.”