ARLINGTON, Va. - The Washington Capitals announced today initiatives surrounding February's Black History Month that are aligned with the team's previously announced series of public and internal initiatives that focus on diversity and inclusion in hockey, racial equality and the recognition of achievements by Black individuals. In addition, the Capitals formally announced members of the organization's Black Hockey Committee, whose mission is to address ways to eradicate racism and discuss growing the game in underserved communities.
BLACK HOCKEY COMMITTEE
In August, the Capitals announced a Black Hockey Committee comprised of community and organization leaders that will meet on a consistent basis to address ways to eradicate racism and discuss growing the game in underserved communities. A primary focus will be on conducting outreach to local teams and combining resources to educate coaches and parents on how to appropriately handle racial incidents. Committee members include:
Duante' Abercrombie: Duante' Abercrombie serves as Stevenson University's assistant ice hockey coach. Abercrombie also serves as the Washington Little Caps' head coach of the 18U Midget Team. Abercrombie is an alumnus of Gonzaga College High School, where he helped Gonzaga win four MSHL/ MAPHL Championships, multiple Purple Puck Championships, and numerous games against nationally ranked prep school programs, both as a player and a former coach. He also coached at Georgetown Preparatory School, and in his ﬁrst year, he helped lead his team to its ﬁrst IAC Championship. At the age of six, Abercrombie began playing hockey at Washington D.C.'s Fort Dupont Ice Arena.
Alexandria Briggs-Blake: Alexandria Briggs-Blake, a hockey mom for more than 15 years, currently serves as president of the Tucker Road Parent Hockey Org (TRPHO) in support of the Tucker Road Ducks, a Prince George's County, MD, co-ed youth hockey team for ages four through 18, which Briggs-Blake was integrally involved with forming. The Ducks suffered a devastating rink fire in 2017 that left the team without a home rink. Briggs-Blake, who volunteers on various hockey boards, used her passion for youth hockey to rally the community together to keep the kids on the ice and to ensure that a brand-new rink was built. Through her leadership and advocacy efforts, more than $27 million was secured for a new rink, which is projected to be completed by April 2021. Briggs-Blake was one of three finalists for the 2020 NHL Willie O'Ree Community Hero Award.
Neal Henderson: Neal Henderson co-founded the Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club in 1978 as a developmental program that provides local and inner-city youth with the opportunity to participate in an organized ice hockey program. Fort Dupont Ice Arena is the only full-size indoor ice arena in Washington, D.C., and the Cannons are the oldest minority youth hockey program in North America. Henderson's programs use hockey to build character, teach life skills and instill positive values in thousands of youth skaters across the D.C. region. Henderson was one of three finalists for the 2018 NHL Willie O'Ree Community Hero Award. In 2019, Henderson was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.
Tammi Lynch: Tammi Lynch co-founded Players Against Hate (PAH), an organization determined to increase awareness and stop racism and name-calling by youth athletes, their teams and coaches, their families, and spectators. Lynch is a hockey mom from Ellicott City, Md., who took action after her son's teammate was the victim of racial slurs during a game. The 'Players Against Hate' movement started after Lynch designed a logo following the racial incident, crossing out the word "Racism" with a hockey stick. Since then, PAH has grown to launch a Racist Incident Tracker to track, monitor and address incidences of racism. Lynch was a finalist for the 2019 NHL Willie O'Ree Community Hero Award.
Corinne McIntosh-Douglas: Corinne McIntosh-Douglas serves as the Black Girl Hockey Club's (BGHC) advisor to the executive director. Black Girl Hockey Club is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire and sustain passion for the game of hockey within the Black community, specifically mothers, sisters, daughters and friends. A Washington, D.C., resident, McIntosh-Douglas is also a member of the BGHC Programming Committee. McIntosh-Douglas' husband, Bill Douglas, runs the Color of Hockey Blog, an outlet dedicated to stories surrounding the growing impact of people of color in hockey.
The committee is also comprised of members of the Capitals hockey operations, marketing, foundation and communications departments.
FEBRUARY HOCKEY DIVERSITY AND RACIAL EQUALITY INITIATIVES
The Capitals will continue the organization's mission to grow the game and advocate for equality in hockey throughout February's Black History Month. Highlights include:
Black History Night Presented by Capital One, Featuring Special Warmup Jersey Fundraiser: The Capitals Feb. 25 game marks the organization's Black History Night presented by Capital One. Capitals players will wear special black warmup jerseys featuring the Capitals logo and a Players Against Hate end racism shoulder patch. The jerseys, also featuring red ombre lettering and a white stripe, will be signed and auctioned off to benefit the Capital Impact Fund.
The Capitals launched the Capital Impact Fund in conjunction with the 2020-21 season as a program that designates funds to organizations that can assist in eliminating cost barriers faced by local players, from youth to elite players. The fund will help minority youth players reach their greatest potential and aim to ensure that anyone who wants to play, watch, teach, officiate, or otherwise engage with the sport of hockey is able to do so. Fans are able to donate to the Capital Impact Fund at WashCaps.com.
In conjunction with Players Against Hate, the Capitals will launch a campaign against racism and use their platforms to amplify the PAH mission. In addition, PAH will develop educational materials to be used to teach players, coaches, officials, organizations and fans that hate has no place on the bench, in the game or in the stands. The Capitals will also collaborate on resources and tools to implement educational materials across local school systems, youth organization and hockey teams.
Black History Night will also honor diversity and inclusion with tributes and guests throughout the game on Capitals Virtual Gameday as well as Capital social channels.
Virtual Fort Dupont Visit: Select Capitals players will participate in a virtual event with players from the Fort Dupont Cannons. This virtual visit is in place of an annual player visit to the Fort Dupont Ice Arena to skate with the Cannons. The Capitals have a long-standing relationship with Fort Dupont, having assisted with Fort Dupont's fundraising campaign for a new rink, provided multiple scholarships to Fort Dupont scholar-athletes, and donated equipment to the Cannons.
Breaking The Ice: In November, the Capitals launched Breaking The Ice, a new program designed to introduce first-time hockey players to the game at home, featuring an instructional video series hosted by the Black-led nonprofit Dc Mamba. Through Breaking The Ice, conducted in association with the NHL, NHLPA and Franklin Sports, the Capitals provided a low-cost street hockey equipment set and the instructional videos to each registrant. The program is expanding this February through a partnership with Leveling the Playing Field and local school systems to provide access to hockey at home for students. The virtual coaching instructional videos are now available to all individuals at capsyouthhockey.com/breakingtheice.
Virtual Coaches Panel Presented by Capital One: Capitals coach Peter Laviolette, Fort Dupont coach Neal Henderson and Stevenson University and Little Caps coach Duante' Abercrombie will participate in a Virtual Coaches Panel Presented by Capital One with coaches throughout the region on diversity in hockey and character building. The discussion will focus on addressing racism in hockey and how to approach the conversations with players, parents, coaches and rinks.
Black Hockey Spotlights: Throughout February, Capitals social channels will highlight stories of Black individuals and their impact on the game and will share content related to a new theme each week, including Capitals team history, women, moments and the future. For more information on Capitals programming, commitment, resources and history, visit washcaps.com/blackhockey.