NHL coach Ted Nolan to speak on barriers for Indigenous coaches, athletes

To continue the conversation on breaking barriers for BIPOC individuals, a decorated veteran of the sports industry with an Indigenous background, former NHL coach Ted Nolan, will deliver an online webinar in conjunction with the Black and Indigenous Varsity Student-Athlete Alliance (BIVSAA), the Indigenous Students' Association at York (ISAY) and the Centre for Aboriginal Student Services (CASS).

His event, titled Barriers for Indigenous Coaches & Athletes, will take place April 27 at 12 p.m. on Zoom.

Ted Nolan

Ted Nolan

Nolan, a native of Garden River First Nation, Ont., has engaged in a long and successful career at the top of high-performance athletics, with stops as a coach with the Buffalo Sabres, the New York Islanders, and the Latvian national men's ice hockey team at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. But Nolan's endeavours have not come without barriers due to the colour of his skin.

The third-youngest of 12 children, in a house lacking electricity and plumbing, Nolan learned resilience from his parents Stan and Rose. From his mother, he received pride in his heritage and that helped him become the strong man that he is today. He also learned to follow his dreams, no matter how big or small.

Nolan grew up playing minor hockey in Sault Ste. Marie and left home at the age of 16 to play junior hockey in Kenora, Ont. After a brief stint in the Detroit Red Wings organization, which saw him raise the Calder Cup championship trophy with their minor league affiliate, Nolan was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins. He went on to have his career cut short by a serious back injury at the age of 26.

In his post-playing career, Nolan instantly found success in the junior hockey coaching world after returning to the Greyhounds to become the bench boss in 1998. He led Sault Ste. Marie to three straight OHL championship appearances and they won two of them in 1990-91 and 1991-92. From there, he earned a spot in the NHL, where he joined the Hartford Whalers bench for the 1993-94 season. Then, he earned his first NHL head coaching job in 1995 with Buffalo – a position he held for two years, winning one playoff round in 1996-97.

After winning another junior hockey title with the QMJHL's Moncton Wildcats in 2006, Nolan had two more stints behind a big-league bench later on in his career, spending 2006-08 with New York before returning to Buffalo from 2013-15. His final NHL coaching record, spanning 471 games in six seasons, was 187-227-19-38.

Nolan always says, "hockey is what I do, it is not who I am." With his wife Sandra and two sons Brandon and Jordan, he dreams of Indigenous self-sufficiency and a day when First Nations will take their rightful place in Canada.

Since the beginning of Black History Month in February, BIVSAA has launched the Black Excellence Speaker Series to start and continue a conversation on how to empower the York community to speak for social justice. This event, with a prominent Indigenous community member, allows the expansion of this conversation to include perspectives from other members of the BIPOC community.

Sign-ups for this event will make their home on the BIVSAA webpage. Anyone is able to register, and all members of the York community are invited to listen and learn about Nolan's experiences.

Event details

Guest Speaker: Ted Nolan
Barriers for Indigenous Coaches & Athletes
April 27 at 12 p.m.
Meeting ID: 920 6980 2080 Passcode: 528420
Zoom Link

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