With the 2017 NWHL All-Star Game to be hosted in Pittsburgh, there is a strong momentous feeling of history as professional women’s hockey shall be contested for the first time ever in the Keystone State. As one of America’s greatest sporting cities, steeped in sporting tradition, the Steel City shall see history being made twice in one day.
In addition to the All-Star Game itself, one of its competitors continues to empower and inspire. As the first transgender athlete in the modern history of sport, Harrison Browne of the Buffalo Beauts was revealed as one four players that were voted in to participate. While this shall signify the first time that an All-Star event in any sport will feature a transgender participant, Browne has proven to be an All-Star off the ice.
After the brave revelation last autumn, in which Browne (née Hailey) courageously approached NWHL commissioner Dani Rylan and spoke candidly about this heart wrenching decision, it served as a landmark moment in league history, while providing inspiration for LGBT athletes the world over. As a historical note, it is believed that Albertine Lapensée, one of Ontario’s great women’s players, who skated prior to the Great Depression, became a transgender individual after her playing career.
Since then, Browne has attained a certain celebrity status, being featured in numerous publications, including The Hockey News (where he was recognized as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Hockey) and in Sportsnet Magazine. Despite the occasionally overwhelming media attention, Browne remains humble, focused on helping the Beauts return to the Isobel Cup Finals, while maintaining a professional demeanor that sets a positive example.
Considering that the NWHL All-Star Game is meant to be a celebration of the game and its heroes, it is only fitting that Browne shall be among the players gracing the ice. With more than 20,000 fans having voted over the span of two weeks, Browne was among the top four vote getters. Joining Browne shall be the likes of Gigi Marvin, a two-time Winter Games gold medalist, along with a pair of New York Riveters, Madison Packer and rookie Rebecca Russo.