Abby Roque is no stranger to pioneering. From her childhood in northern Michigan to winning a national championship in Wisconsin, the hockey forward has continually defied the odds on the ice.
Given the choice between moving to Canada to play for a girls’ team or staying in Michigan and trying for the boys’ high school team, Roque chose to stay home — a choice distinct from being the varsity squads lone female. and freshmen.
Nearly a decade later, Roque entered the rink in the first-ever women’s professional hockey game at Madison Square Garden and scored the opening goal for Team Adidas — Minnesota Region.
All of these moments helped prepare Roque for her biggest stage ever – the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, where she prepares to become the first Native American woman to represent the US in ice hockey.
Despite professional hockey being predominantly white, Roque – a member of the Ojibwe tribe of the First Nations of Canada – sees hockey and Indigenous culture as complementary to each other, with both evoking a deep sense of community.
Indigenous cultures really are that close, Roque said in an interview with NBC LXs My New Favorite Olympian series. And that’s the best thing about it, it’s just such a close-knit community where people want to help each other, people want to be there for each other. And I think that’s very special.
Here’s everything you need to know about Abby Roque and how her community inspired her career as one of the best female hockey players in the country.
Who is Abby Roque?
Abby Roque is an American ice hockey attacker from Sault Ste. Mary, Michigan. The 24-year-old grew up competing in the Upper Peninsula and Canada before attending the University of Wisconsin.
In her junior season, Roque helped the Badgers to the 2018/19 NCAA National Championship in women’s hockey.
How did Abby Roque first get involved with ice hockey?
Roque grew up along the Michigan-Canada border, where it’s cold for nearly nine months of the year. She described her hometown of Sault Ste. Marie as a hockey community, where everyone is involved in the sport in one way or another.
Her father, Jim, coached much of Abby’s youth at Lake Superior State before transitioning to professional hockey, where he currently serves as an NHL scout with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
When Abby was young, Jim built an ice rink in their backyard that was frequented by neighbors. Many of Abby’s earliest memories are not of organized hockey, but rather shiny – a Native American game that resembles hockey.
What is glossy?
Shinny is a Native American sport that is a cross between hockey and lacrosse. The object of the game is to pass a round ball between two designated goal posts with long, curved sticks. Shinny is especially popular in northern Michigan and Canada, where there are large concentrations of indigenous peoples.
Which Native American Tribe Is Abby Roque?
Roque is Ojibwe, one of the indigenous peoples of the First Nations. The First Nations are one of three major groups of indigenous communities in Canada.
Her uncle, Larry Roque, is chief of the Wahnapitae. As a chef, he works with other First Nation leaders to increase access and resources for young athletes in their communities, starting with an ice rink.
Where did Abby Roque play hockey in high school?
Faced with the choice of moving to Canada to play on a girls’ team or staying in Michigan and trying out the boys’ team, Roque decided to stick with her roots. It’s a decision that she says made her the player she is today.
Sault Area High School head coach John Ferroni was instrumental in welcoming her to the team and ensuring she was held to the same standards as her male teammates. Ferroni built a locker room for Roque that provided her privacy and easy access to the team’s locker room.
Ferroni said Roque continues to inspire young girls in Sault Ste. Marie, several of whom have followed in her footsteps and joined the high school team. He once had two girls request to sit where Roque sat during her time as the Blue Devil.
I had to squeeze them together in the stable a bit, Ferroni said in an interview with NBC LX’s My Favorite Olympian podcast. But you know, there’s an influence there.
When did Abby Roque decide to become an activist for other Indigenous athletes?
Many of Roque’s childhood friends were Native American, but in Wisconsin she skated with dozens of athletes who had never met a Native American or Native person.
She said she saw the lack of representation in hockey at the time and that it gave her appreciation for the community that raised her, and propelled her to take an active role in spreading the message that her sport is a place for everyone should be.
I think it’s important to make sure everyone knows there is a place for them in the sport and not to be intimidated, Roque said. If you’re good enough to play with the boys, play with the boys. And even if they don’t think you’re good enough to play with them, show them plain and simple.
Who are some of Abby Roques’ role models?
One of Roque’s greatest sources of inspiration is former NHL coach Ted Nolan. A fellow member of the Ojibwe tribe, Nolan began his coaching career across the river from Roques’ hometown before taking on the position of head coach with the Buffalo Sabers.
As a teenager, Roque came to admire Capitals winger and Stanley Cup champion TJ Oshie, a fellow member of the Ojibwe Nation. Oshie himself achieved Olympic glory in 2014 when he connected with four out of six shooting attempts to defeat host nation Russia in a preliminary round matchup of the Sochi Games.
What were some of Abby’s goals growing up?
Jim Roque has a letter in his bag from seventh grade Abby with three goals: driving a Mustang, going to the University of Wisconsin, and competing in the Olympics. She ticked off one of those goals — studying at the University of Wisconsin — in style.
Roque did not miss a game with the in four years ties. She has scored more than 40 points in each of her last three seasons, including a personal best of 58 points in her final season.
Though she has yet to drive a Mustang, Roque is one step closer to completing her bucket list with the Beijing Olympics just around the corner.
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