As a child, Willie O'Ree was always obsessed with hockey. Whenever he was done his homework, Willie turned on his TV and watched NHL games. He loved rooting for his local hockey team, the New Brunswick Hawks. However, he noticed that there were no people of colour in the NHL. Willie felt that he could do something to change this. Little did he know that when he grew up, he would become the first black hockey player in the NHL..
When Willie O'Ree first joined the NHL, he was very excited to play on a professional team. However, he was not aware of the risks that came with being a black player in a sport dominated by white people. The more that he played, the more threats and racist remarks he received. Willie realised that it would be very difficult to be part of a league that is attributed with many stereotypes against people of certain ethnicity or culture. Many people were surprised that Willie was allowed in the league, since he had been the first black NHL player.
Willie began to question whether he was actually good enough for the NHL. Every time he played, he got more hate comments than compliments. Despite the increasing pressure being put on Willie, he persevered, and deliberated that he would continue to work on his skills until he became the best hockey player that ever played. However, he understood that it wouldn't be easy to accomplish. Willie would have to train much harder if he wanted to make his dreams come true.
Willie was determined to become a better player, and he displayed that at his practices. He was extremely aggressive, and would stop at nothing to help his team win a game. The more games he won with his team, the more respect he gained. Eventually, people started to accept that Willie deserved respect, regardless of his race or culture. His skill began to drastically improve, and all of the support he received from his fans inspired him to play harder and better each game.
Willie Lost 95% of his vision in his right eye after he got hit with an errant puck during the 1955-1956 season. After this happened, Wille's doctors advised him to stop playing hockey because he would not be able to keep up with his teammates and opponents, however Willie was determined to play again and he was. He was back on the ice within two months of his injury. One catch, he could not tell anyone about his injury. According to NHL bylaws, he would not be eligible to play, as the league forbade blind in one eye players to compete. But he was determined to play, so as he was playing left wing, he had to turn his head all the way to the right to see.
Willie O'Ree later won a Staney cup! All of his hard work, determination and practice came in handy when he was in the finals. This just shows how even if you are being doubted or discriminated, you just need a positive mind and you can persevere though anything!