'I Hope I'm The First Of Many': BU Junior Is First Black U.S. Hockey Player In Olympic History

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BU hockey forward Jordan Greenway at the Agganis Arena. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
BU hockey forward Jordan Greenway at the Agganis Arena. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Watch the U.S. men's hockey team play its first game early Wednesday, and you might see a Boston University player on the ice.

Jordan Greenway plays center and left wing for the Terriers.

He stands 6 feet 5 inches — without the skates. And he's making Olympic history.

"I'm the first black person to play for Team USA for hockey, and I hope I'm the first of many," Greenway says.

The U.S. has had a men's hockey team in the Olympics since 1920. But it has never included a black player, until now.

The opportunity for Greenway opened up when the National Hockey League decided last spring to not allow its players to compete in PyeongChang.

There's only a handful of black players in the NHL. So growing up, Greenway didn't have many players who looked like him to inspire him. But he hopes the next generation will.

Forward Jordan Greenway looks for a pass as Brady Tkachuk watches from the boards. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Jordan Greenway looks for a pass as Brady Tkachuk watches from the boards. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

"I just really want to have African-American kids be able to, you know, look at me as a role model — as well as [looking to] all those other guys," Greenway says.

WBUR caught up with Greenway at BU hockey practice before he left for South Korea.

"I always dreamed of doing a lot of things when I was a kid, when it came to hockey and playing in the NHL, playing [Division] 1 hockey, play in the Olympics," Greenway recalls.

"But honestly, I never really thought I would have been able to do some of the things that I have done so far in my life before I graduated college. And going to the Olympics is probably right at the top of the list."

Greenway grew up in Canton, N.Y., where he played hockey at local ponds and rinks.

He was raised by a single mother, with no father figure, he says. He credits his mother and extended family for being his "backbone" as he pursued his hockey dreams.


The Boston Terriers huddle on the ice at the Agganis Arena. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
The Boston University Terriers gather on the ice at the Agganis Arena. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Greenway will have a lot of people cheering for him from here in the States, including freshman BU teammate Brady Tkachuk.

Tkachuk calls Greenway "one of the best guys on our team off the ice, too" and says it's no wonder Greenway was tapped for the Olympic team.

"First, he's probably the biggest guy on the ice every game... so it's hard not to notice him every game," Tkachuk says. "He plays with every little detail. He backtracks super hard and, you know, he's probably the best player in college hockey around the net — tough to knock off the puck.

"He just makes those little plays, and for him to get rewarded and go to the Olympics, it's awesome to see."

Greenway says the whole Olympics experience will be "tremendous," but he has a singular mission.

"I'm still going there to come back with a medal and have as much of an impact as I can for my team," he says.

The men's Olympic hockey team plays its first game, against Slovenia, Wednesday at 7:10 a.m. EST.

This segment aired on February 13, 2018.


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Lynn Jolicoeur is the field producer for WBUR's All Things Considered. She also reports for the station's various local news broadcasts.


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Jack Lepiarz was a reporter and anchor at WBUR.



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