GREAT KIDS: QU medical student helps bring hockey to kids of color

QU student helps bring hockey to students of color
Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 5:39 PM EST
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(WFSB) - A Quinnipiac University medical student is working to diversify a sport that is in desperate need of more representation.

He’s created a hockey club called Hockey Haven to actively bring the sport to kids of color.

Raised near the south shore of Boston, Aaron Marcel played hockey at every level.

“Played hockey my whole life growing up,” said Aaron. “Played all the way through select hockey as a youth player, high school, college club hockey, even now in my men’s league.”

But Aaron has never played with a person of color on his team, until now.

“The lack of diversity in the sport, I really wanted do something to impact the culture and shift the game,” Aaron said.

The Quinnipiac second-year med student created Hockey Haven.

He, along with some fellow medical students, train and teach students all about the game.

From skating to scoring, it’s bringing the game straight to them.

“Basically increase accessibility to hockey for kids that really don’t have access to the sport because hockey is specifically exclusive to people who aren’t affluent white,” said Aaron.

The training is free, and so is the equipment. The time on the ice is donated.

“New York Rangers provide all the funding for the equipment and ice time, so we can make everything free for all the players involved,” Aaron said.

That’s the mean reason mom Jasmine Lyle allowed her son to suit up.

“There’s is not a lot of opportunity for minorities to be in the type of sport. Number 1 it is really expensive and number 2 it’s a great opportunity for him,” said Jasmine.

It’s an opportunity that Aaron says he wants to see continue to grow.

The program doubled its numbers this year to nearly 70 players girls and boys.

This is the second season for Hockey Haven, but it won’t be the last. Aaron said he wants this program to continue long after he leaves medical school.

The kids seem to be learning and loving it.

“Do you like hockey? “Why?” Eyewitness News asked.

“Yes!” said Joshua Mutonji. “Because it’s fun.”

“The best part is learning and having fun,” said Jeremiah Montonji.

“When you first get on it [ice] you fall. When you fall, when you first get on it,” said Michael, a player.

“You gotta learn right? You’re going to keep doing it,” asked Eyewitness News.

“Yeah,” Michael said. “Because I really like hockey.”

Aaron said that’s the whole point: to make hockey accessible for all.

“To see the kids out here skating, parents smiling, it’s really making an impact,” said Aaron.

An impact that is clearly making difference, as profound as black and white.