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Tue, 12.22.1964

Angela James, Hockey Player born

Angela James

*Angela James was born on this date in 1964. She is a former Black Canadian ice hockey player.

James was born in Toronto, Ontario, the daughter of Donna Barrato, a white Canadian from Toronto, and Leo James, a Black American from Mississippi. He came to Canada to escape Jim Crow segregation. She has two half-brothers and two half-sisters on her mother's side. Her father, who was involved with a Toronto nightclub, estimates she has at least nine half-siblings by him, though Angela believes the number is closer to 15. Among them is National Hockey League (NHL) player Theo Peckham.

A single mother, Donna raised Angela and her two half-sisters in a subsidized townhouse neighborhood of Toronto. She was a bookkeeper and battled depression and mental illness. Angela was closest to her sister Kym, though the two often fought as children. Her father never had a consistent place in her life growing up and did not provide financial support to the family but was available if she needed him. As one of the few black children in the neighborhood, Angela faced insults. She often got into fights over the slurs, forming a combative attitude she carried into the game of hockey. Her maternal grandparents never accepted Angela as a child.

James developed an interest in sports. Her godfather gave her a baseball bat and glove to celebrate her first holy communion. She excelled at hockey, baseball, and synchronized swimming as a young child. Her mother wanted her to focus on swimming. However, her passion was for hockey, and she was constantly playing ball hockey with the neighborhood boys from the time she was in kindergarten. James first played organized hockey in a Flemingdon Park boys house league at the age of eight, and then only after her mother threatened legal action as officials opposed her inclusion.

She dominated the Flemingdon Park league. James's participation in the Flemingdon Park league ended partway through her second year due to jealousy from the boys' parents in the league. The president's son was on James's team and was particularly offended that a girl overshadowed his boy. He ordered a change in the league's policy to forbid girls from playing. James's only feasible option for a girl's league was at Annunciation, a Catholic organization in the Don Mills district.

Her mother would take her to and from games at various rinks via the bus. Skipping the bantam age group entirely, James first played senior hockey with the Newtonbrook Saints. She was 13 at the time, playing against women 16 and older. The Saints were a Senior C team, the fourth-highest level of women's hockey in the Toronto area at the time. James played in the first women's world championship, a 1987 unsanctioned tournament. She played with Team Canada in the first IIHF World Women's Championship in 1990, setting a scoring record of 11 goals and leading Canada to the gold medal. She played in three additional world championships, winning gold medals in 1992, 1994, and 1997.

She was left off the team for the first women's Olympic hockey tournament in 1998. She played her final international tournament in 1999. James was one of the first three women inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Hockey Hall of Fame in 2008. One of the first two inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010 was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 2009. James was named to the Order of Hockey in Canada in 2021. She is currently the Senior Sports Coordinator at Seneca College in Toronto.

To become a Professional Athlete

Reference:

HHOF.com

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