Anishnaabe Abby Roque is seeking to be first to play hockey for Team U.S.A.

MINNESOTA — Abby Roque, 24, a member of the Wahnapitae First Nation, is seeking to become the first Indigenous woman to play hockey for the U.S. in the Winter Olympic Games.

If she achieves her goal, she will be the only BIPOC player on the national team, with the U.S. team for Beijing to be named in early 2022.

In October, Roque was one of 28 players that traveled to Blaine, Minnesota to enter a pre-Olympic residency with the U.S. team. Players from that group are training together while taking part in the My Why Tour, a nine-game series against Canada, with the goal of seeing their names on the final list of 23 who will compete in Beijing.

This is Roque’s first time in residency with the team.

Her last name is pronounced “rock,” and she played as a youth hockey player in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, as a girl on a mostly male team.

That would change when she got involved in USA Hockey and then reached the powerhouse University of Wisconsin program. Roque earned gold and silver medals with the U.S. team at Under-18 world championships in 2015 and 2014, respectively.

She made her mark at Wisconsin by leading the Badgers to the 2019 national championship and being named a top-three finalist for the 2020 Patty Kazmaier Award given to the top player in women’s college hockey.

Since joining the senior national team, Roque was selected to play in a pair of world championships. The 2020 tournament was canceled due to COVID-19, and she earned a silver medal earlier this year.

Roque’s Wahnapitae First Nation is based in northern Ontario and her influence will extend well beyond the sport with her aim of making hockey more inclusive.

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