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Black History Month: Russell Jordan Feature

Monday, February 28th
Black History Month: Russell Jordan Feature

For most hockey players, the love of this sport is passed down within generations of their family. It was a different origin story for Everblades forward Russ Jordan, who didn’t come from a long line of hockey players. As a young man and minority trying to find his way up the rankings, Russ was able to find his path and make a career out of the sport he loves.

Like most players, Jordan learned to skate at a young age. He describes his first on-ice experience as a humbling one.

“I was three years old. My dad took me out to a public skate and I fell right on my face,” Russell recalls. “My dad likes to tell the story. I didn’t cry or anything. I stuck with skating and it’s been a long journey since then.”

With his father introducing him to the ice, it’s no surprise that this is the most impactful person in his hockey career.

“He didn’t get to play at a high level, but whenever I didn’t feel like going to practice, he was pushing me along and helping me through all my trials and tribulations. That’s my biggest supporter.”

Whether it’s by meeting lifelong friends or developing life skills, this sport has made a tremendous impact on each player through all levels. For Russ, hockey provided him an opportunity to attend college, spending his first year at University of Wisconsin-River Falls in 2014 before transferring to Hamline University for the remaining three.

“I was a first-gen graduate,” says Jordan. Knowing I was the first in my family to achieve that while also being the youngest was a cool accomplishment. I don’t think I would have had that opportunity if it wasn’t for hockey.”

The 2021-22 season is Russell’s third at the professional level. He started the campaign with the Birmingham Bulls of the Southern Professional Hockey League. After 18 games, Jordan earned his loan to the Everblades.

“I had less than 12 hours to get everything packed up,” he explains. “I was coming from one warm state to another so I can’t complain about the weather. The guys are awesome and the fans are incredible. I’ve enjoyed every moment being here so far.”

In the future, Russ’ goal is to give back and pay it forward to the next generation of hockey players.

“I didn’t come from a hockey family. My dad and I went through our ups and downs to get to this position where I’m at today. Moving forward, I want to be there when people have questions whether it’s someone at a young age or they’re getting through high school or college. I’d love to help people along and grow the game especially in the Black community.”

February is Black History Month, an observance which originates back to 1969 at Kent State University. Russell is one of a handful of African American players at the professional level, but he has noticed the hockey landscape shifting in a positive direction.

“I have experienced discrimination in the past but growing up, you try to have tough skin and not let it affect you. More recently, people have been speaking out against discrimination, which is awesome. Today’s game is a lot more different than when I grew up. People are more aware, and I see a lot more African American athletes joining the game.”

In the past, hockey was often seen as a more regional sport that only a select few had access to. Jordan wants to see it reach all corners of North America so that everybody can experience what the game has to offer.

“I didn’t come from a wealthy family, so I’d say getting started is the hardest part,” Russ states. “Everything from equipment to ice time is expensive, so that gets rid of a decent amount of the population. It’s especially difficult in a warm state where you don’t have as many rinks available. You don’t often hear about someone coming from poverty and working every day at this game. Making hockey more affordable will change the crowd and make it more diverse."

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