Wisconsin's Laila Edwards becomes first Black woman to skate for Team USA

Laila Edwards
Posted at 1:09 PM, Nov 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-09 14:09:06-05

MADISON — The U.S. Women’s National Hockey Team begins its rivalry series with Canada on Wednesday, which will also mark Wisconsin sophomore Laila Edward's senior national team debut.

However, she'll also be inspiring the next generation of hockey players as the first Black woman to skate for the U.S. Women’s National Team.

"Growing up, I always watched the national team," the forward recalled. "I really enjoyed watching them, but it would have been great to see someone who looked like me on that team also.”

Edwards attended a camp in Lake Placid, New York this summer, which is where she tried out for the senior national team.

She received an email this August notifying her that she made the 2023-34 National Team, but it wasn't until late September that she was officially invited to compete in the November Rivalry Series.

    “I experienced a lot of emotions," Laila shared. "I was very grateful. I had a little bit of nerves because of certain expectations but I'd say gratitude was what I felt the most.”
    The sophomore forward recalls watching last year's seven-game rivalry series, which Canada won 4-3. However, she didn't know her opportunity to be on that same stage would come so soon.

    “To be able to say that I'm going to be in those same shoes is very exciting," she smiled.

    Edwards shared she exchanged a few messages back-and-forth with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce who congratulated her on being named to the team. While the two have never met, both athletes are from Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

    “Shout out to Laila Edwards," Travis Kelce said on his New Heights Podcast on Oct. 18. “Just being from the city, you got my love and support. Go out there and hold it down for USA, baby.”

    Through 12 games this season with the Badgers, Edwards is fifth in scoring (18 points) with five goals and 13 assists.

    She's hopeful Wednesday night's debut with the U.S. Women's National Team was just another step towards her lifelong goal of eventually competing at the Winter Olympics.

    “I want to be an inspiration for all like young girls but especially young girls of color so they'll be able to look at me and say oh she can do it so I can do it too.”

    Two other Badgers joined Edwards in Tempe, Ariz. for Wednesday night's game against Canada: Britta Curl and Lacey Eden.