ST PAUL, Minn. — It's no secret we live in the State of Hockey here in Minnesota.
"If Minnesota is the State of Hockey, then hockey ought to be shared with all the neighbors that reside in the State of Hockey," said Scott Harman.
Which is exactly what Harman and his non-profit organization DinoMights have been doing since the early 90's.
Making the state's favorite sport accessible to kids in minority communities on the south side of Minneapolis, specifically in the Phillips, Powderhorn and Central neighborhoods.
"They literally have you know a hockey program and a hockey rink like in their backyard," said James Toussaint, a coach and staff member with DinoMights.
It's an opportunity for inclusion in a predominantly white sport, which is why organizations like the Minnesota Wild decided to add a flare of color to the ice in custom warmup jerseys worn prior to Friday night's game against the Anaheim Ducks.
"We met with some local black business leaders throughout the community and we all got a chance to be a part of the design of the jersey," explained Jeffrey Baidoo, an Account Executive with the Minnesota Wild and Equity Advisor for Minnesota Hockey. He went on to say, "the jersey itself is kind of an ode to a Kente cloth as well as do the right thing."
It's part of a celebration ahead of Black History Month, honoring local organizations like DinoMights working to bridge the gap, through the love of sport and community.
"It's more than just a sport especially for me, my parents were born in Ghana West Africa, and they introduced me to the Canadian culture through the sport in Alberta where I was born and so I witnessed it there and how much it meant for them to be apart of a community and part of a sport and watched it grow," said Baidoo.
While many of the kids introduced to the sport of hockey in minority communities may not ever grow up to become professional athletes, for leaders with DinoMights it's about more than the love of sport.
"DinoMights also provides tutoring, mentoring, young people can have their first like job at DinoMights," said Harman. "Every single kid is going to be a family member, and needs to be a great family member, every single kid is a student and needs to be a great student.” Harman went on to say, "little kids who try ice skating and try hockey like they don't know about the ethnic stereotypes that are out there they just know that its fun."
The custom warmup jerseys were auctioned off at the end of Friday night's game, with the proceeds benefitting the Minnesota Wild Foundation and the Minnesota Hockey Diversity, Equity and Inclusion program.