November 12, 2023
Laila Edwards, a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin, became the first Black woman to play for the United States Senior National Team when she took the ice for her shift during a game against Canada on Nov 11
Laila Edwards, a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin, became the first Black woman to play for the United States Senior National hockey team when she took the ice during a game against Canada on Nov. 11. Edwards was rightfully critical of her milestone moment, as she told Andscape ahead of the contest, “It’s an honor to be the first Black woman on the national team, but this team’s been around for a long time.”
Edwards continued, “And not to sound ungrateful, but it would have been nice to have someone that looked like me on that team before me. I’m glad that I’m able to be that someone for another little Black girl out there.”
At 6’1 Edwards is an imposing figure on the ice and was the tallest player on the ice during the contest. In addition to her size, Edwards possesses unusual skills for her age, which is a reason why she is making her Olympic debut at just 19 years of age.
Hilary Knight, a four-time Olympian, remarked to The Athletic that she is dazzled by some of the things Edwards can do with the puck, “The way she can rip the puck, it looks like it’s about to break the glass or rip the netting,” Knight said. “I wish I had all those things at that age.”
Edwards’ inclusion on the roster positions her as a player to watch for the next world competition in 2024, coming off of a Frozen Four appearance, which netted her an inclusion on the all tournament team, alongside four of her teammates.
Her older sister, Chayla, is also on the Wisconsin team. Laila also was declared the MVP of the World Under 18 Championship, which she won in 2022. In 2026, Edwards will be eligible for the Olympic national team in the Winter Olympics competition, which would make her the second Black player to compete, following in Jordan Greenway’s footsteps on the men’s side.
Team USA Coach John Wroblewski is also understanding of the gifts Edwards possesses, telling The Athletic, “I don’t think there’s another woman like her in the game right now.”
Edwards showed so much promise after her freshman year at Bishop Kearney, a private school in Rochester, NY, with an elite girls’ hockey program, that she verbally committed to Wisconsin. All she did from that point was establish herself as the premier hockey player in the country, amassing 147 goals and 417 points while at Bishop Kearney.
As a man who has been around hockey at its highest levels for the better part of 15 years, Wroblewski knows talent when he sees it–and he says he sees tremendous gifts in Edwards.
He told The Athletic, “The interesting thing about her is that you look at the size and that she puts up points, but the most impressive thing about her (is her) brain. Her computer is extremely advanced. She’s got very nifty hands, and she’s able to navigate the neutral zone extremely well. She’s sort of a dream to play with.”
Edwards’ sister Chayla is excited to watch both the growth in her sister’s game and to see what this can lead to for future generations of Black girls who might be in the stands, dreaming of being where her sister is.
Chayla told The Athletic, “It’s very surreal,” Chayla said. “Beyond anything, I’m just really proud (of her) and excited for the younger girls to see her play. It’s going to bring me so much joy that she can be a person for them to look up to.”