Bryan Donaldson-Fullfilling a Goal

By Jo Ann Lawery
Updated: October 3, 2005

LOS ANGELES, CA—After a year of inactivity, the NHL is back.

Hockey fans, like me, couldn’t be any more happier.

Another such fan is Bryan Donaldson.

He’s a hockey player from the “Motor City”, who’s favorite team is, who else, the Detroit Red Wings, and at one time his favorite player was former Red Wing, sergei Fedorov, who now plays for the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

The player who Bryan would pay good money to see now is Ilya Kovalchuk of the Atlanta Thrashers.

Bryan, who was raised by a single father, Gregory Donaldson, who he righty considers his idol, has been very supportive of his son’s career choices.

I met Bryan at the first preseason hockey game at Staples Center, where he is interning for the Los Angeles Kings hockey club.

Even though he’s from Detroit, he’s staying with his grandparents who live in the San Fernando Valley city of Woodland Hills, California.

He’s interning with the Kings until December, when he returns to Dartmouth College.

He liked baseball, and played it until age 12 when he concentrated solely on his first love, which was hockey.

To those of you who think African -American children can’t skate worth a lick or will only pick up a basketball, you haven’t met or spoken with Bryan.

He’s been skating since the age of five, when a friend took him to a hockey game that he was playing in.

Bryan was hooked and hasn’t stopped lacing up those skates ever since.

At age eight, he was such a good hockey player that he was even featured in the sports pages of the Detroit Free Press.

He told me that, “hockey has taken me all over the world.”

Not many 23 year old African American males can say that they’ve been to Europe and Canada to play in hockey tournaments.

Or that they’ve played hockey in two of the best hockey schools in Michigan and Minnesota.

While at Brooks High School in Michigan, he was one of their leading scorers.

If that wasn’t enough, he went to Shattuck-St. mary’s Prep school in Minnmesota, where his coach just happened to be one Andy Murray, who now coaches the Kings.

Bryan wanted to attend Harvard, instead, he chose Dartmouth College in Concord, New Hampshire on a recommendation by Coach Murray, no less.

Bryan, who told me, he “breathes, eats, and sleeps hockey,” was a walkon at the school, where he’s an Economics major.

With all of his skills, one might think the school would be happy to have such a gifted player, let alone one as articulate and mature as Bryan is.

Need I tell you that hasn’t happened yet

Dartmouth is located in a state where one can count the number of Black folks on one hand.

You would think Bryan would be playing more, if at all, especially with the recommendation from one of the best coaches in the league, let alone high school hockey.

Why is it that some people, especially white folks think that all black athletes can do is dunk a basketball or run like the wind with a football?

Did it ever occur to anyone at Dartmouth that Bryan and his father didn’t get up all those early mornings so he could pratice his skills?

Bryan spent more time on the bench than he did on the ice.

He was aware of the fact that unlike college football, college hockey only has 30 teams and all the teams have players that are good enough to play in the NHL or minor league hockey.

To say that he’s disappointed by his lack of playing time would be an understatement.

A person without any confidence would be turned off by the sport, but not Bryan.

“My ultimate goal is to work in the NHL, but I still have that itch to play hockey, ” he told me.

To listen to him speak about his goal of making it in the NHL, one might say, “the brother needs to stop dreaming.”

He’s not, though and he’s very serious and focused on that goal.

I thought I was the most passionate African American about hockey.

I’ve met my match in bryan.

He’s even got ideas on how to make the sport more marketable-to African American fans.

Like me, he feels the league missed their chance several years ago.

Remember when some of the hip hop stars wore hockey jerseys while performing?

As much as some of us hate to admit it, rappers set trends, good and bad.

Think of the possibilities if P. Diddy, Jay Z, Ludacris or 50 Cents got into the”coolest game on earth”?

Or if Bow Wow didn’t “want to be like Mike” and wanted to be “like Jerome Iginla of the Calgary Flames?”

Think of the possibilites.

Bryan has and he wants to show other African American youngsters that there is another sport we can excel in.