Sophie Jaques became the first Black winner of the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award on Saturday.

The 22-year-old defenseman at Ohio State University was honored as the top player in NCAA Division I women's hockey. She was a top three finalist with Northeastern University forward Alina Mueller and Colgate forward Danielle Serdachny.
"I am truly honored and humbled to be the recipient of the Patty Kazmaier award," Jaques said. "I am grateful to be a recipient of an award named after an incredible athlete, scholar and human being in Patty Kazmaier.
"While this is an individual award, I have been supported by a whole team of people throughout this season and my career at Ohio State, and I owe this all to my coaches and teammates over the last five years. Receiving this award is something I never even could have imagined was possible."
Blake Bolden is a scout for the Los Angeles Kings and former defenseman at Boston College from 2009-13. She was the first Black player to compete in the National Women's Hockey League that was rebranded the Premier Hockey League in 2021 and won championships in the Canadian Women's Hockey League (2015) and NWHL (2016). She said it was amazing to witness a Black woman be nominated two years in a row and win the award.
"Forty-eight points in 39 games as a defenseman? Hats off to Sophie, that's so incredibly impressive," Bolden said. "The game is growing as it pertains to its color. Sophie is a part of history not only for the Patty Kaz but as a Black woman breaking down barriers."
Jaques is the 2022-23 Western Collegiate Hockey Association player of the year. She had 48 points (24 goals, 24 assists) in 39 games and became the fifth true defenseman in NCAA history to have back-to-back seasons with at least 40 points. The graduate student from Toronto led NCAA defensemen in goals and points and set a WCHA record for most goals at the position (61). She shared the lead in power-play goals (nine) with Colgate forward Kristyna Kaltounkova.
Jaques had 59 points (21 goals, 38 assists) in 38 games to help Ohio State win the 2022 NCAA Women's National Championship and was a top three Kazmaier finalist. The Buckeyes will try to repeat when they play the University of Wisconsin at Amsoil Arena in Duluth, Minnesota, on Sunday (4 p.m. ET; ESPNU).


"I am overwhelmed with happiness for her and all the hard work she has put in over the years," Ohio State coach Nadine Muzerall said. "I am just so glad that it is nationally recognized that she is the best player in the country. I think this demonstrates how coming to Ohio State can help young women develop and it's hopefully just the start of what we can do here as Buckeyes."
Established in 1998 by the USA Hockey Foundation, the Kazmaier Award was established in 1998 by the USA Hockey Foundation and is named after Patty Kazmaier-Sandt, a Princeton University defenseman who died Feb. 15, 1990, from a rare blood disease at the age of 28. Kazmaier helped the Tigers to three consecutive Ivy League championships (1981-84) while earning multiple honors along the way.
Angela James, the first Black women's player enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010, said Jaques being recognized is a milestone.
"I think that's wonderful for Sophie and the fact that she's the first Black athlete to win that award is pretty special for her and her teammates," said James, general manager of the Toronto Six in the Premier Hockey Federation. "But I don't think when you win an award like that it has anything to do with race. It goes to show you the caliber of player and person that she is, and she's pretty special."
Criteria for the award includes outstanding individual and team skills, sportsmanship, performance in the clutch, personal character, competitiveness and a love of hockey. Academic achievement and civic involvement are also weighed by a 13-member committee.
Jaques was named the 2022 Arthur Ashe Jr. Female Sports Scholar of the year, chosen from more than 1,000 nominees by "Diverse: Issues in Higher Education." She earned her bachelor's degree in civil engineering and is working toward a master's degree. Ashe scholars must maintain a cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.5, be at least a sophomore academically and active on their campuses or within their communities.
Jaques is vice president of SHEROs, an organization that provides a safe space for women student-athletes at Ohio State to have open discussions and promote diversity in sport. She also volunteers with the 2nd & 7 Foundation in Columbus, which promotes reading by providing free books and positive role models for kids in need while encouraging young athletes of the community to pay it forward.
Olivia Soares, an assistant coach for Union College's women's hockey team and Jaques' teammate from 2018-20, said she cried when she watched the announcement on television. She was one of three Black women coaching in NCAA Division I and Division III women's hockey this season.
"As a younger player, I wish I could have turned this on and see something like this," Soares said. "To see her doing that now, and I know there are younger players watching who idolize her and see this and think that they want to do that someday and imagine themselves in that space and winning that award."
Photos: Justin Wolford, WCHA