Her father, Leroy, was a player on the Barbados Men’s National Field Hockey Team. Outside of the United States, field hockey was always a sport dominated by both men and women. In the U.S., mostly women play because the sport is still fairly new to the country. Krysten Mayers remembered many times during her childhood where her father had to travel with his national team to various parts of the world to compete.
Field Hockey Beginnings
One day when he came back from touring, she asked him if he could teach her field hockey. He was a little hesitant at first, seeing that it is a hazardous sport, but she was finally able to convince him. At that time, she was around five years old and enthusiastic to learn this fun and interesting sport. That day, her father transitioned from being just her dad to becoming her coach.
As a member of the field hockey teams in her middle and high school and of “G-
Force,” she started off being oblivious to the hidden game beyond the game on the field of how her race played into her success. Though, as she got more experienced as a player and as a person, the uncomfortable nature of feeling singled out got under her skin. The only reason she understands what it feels like to be on a team and feel completely comfortable is that she was also a member of the Barbados Women’s National Field Hockey Team.
Her development as an African American field hockey player in the U.S. has been a complex but humbling experience. Many folks were not happy that she was crushing it in a white-dominated sport. This forced her to always strive to be better than best because it was only then that she would be acknowledged for her efforts to succeed. It is this mentality that has carved her into who she is today and what will carry her into her future endeavors.
Ice hockey isn’t exactly the first, second or third sporting activity that comes to mind when you try to put Africa and sports in one train of thought. However, the sport is really taken seriously in several parts of the continent. What is good is knowing that though temperatures are high, there are some countries devoted to ice hockey including Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Algeria, and South Africa.
In warm Kenya, an ice hockey team, the Kenya Ice Lions, defy the weather odds
and practice the sport in the only ice rink in Eastern and Central Africa with the desire of playing professional ice hockey and being in the Winter Olympics. Due to the unpopularity of ice hockey, the team has gone on this far through self-motivation and passion.
The Kenya Ice Lions began with a group of Kenyan men who had a real interest after following it for many months. Wanting to be able to move and play like the teams they saw on YouTube, they took advantage of the ice rink in Nairobi and met faithfully to practice until they garnered attention and were helped to create an official team.
Since then, the team members who live in various parts of Nairobi meet once a week to practice. But the true challenge for the team is the fact that their hockey team is the only one in Kenya making it hard to play against a proper team.
The hopeful team is faithfully eyeing qualifications into the Winter Olympics where they pray to make history, offering more awareness of the sport in Africa and igniting more interest for the sport’s development in the continent.
All hopes are high that the team will qualify and make history similar to Phillip Boit who represented Kenya in cross-country skiing in three Winter Olympic Games.