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Bolden leading Jr. Gulls girls teams to all-new heights

 

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Blake Bolden had very successful NCAA Division I and professional careers as one of the country’s top female hockey players.

She’s now enjoying sharing that experience and knowledge with the San Diego Jr. Gulls, coaching the program’s girls teams at the 8U level on up to 19U.

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“When I decided to move to San Diego in 2017, I knew I needed to find a rink,” said Bolden. “I reached out to (Jr. Gulls girls hockey director) Alex Morrison and (Jr. Gulls hockey director) Craig Carlyle and told them I was interested in getting involved. They were thrilled to get connected, and the rest is history.

“We started with four girls teams when I arrived, and now we have six. I absolutely adore these girls, especially at this age where details and mentorship are so important. Working with so many teams and different age groups in incredibly fun and challenging. I have developed such great friendships with the individuals that I’ve met. Our coaches, Jamie Huntley and Alex Morrison, have become some of my closest friends, and I consider them family. I love it here and enjoy each moment with these girls.”

bolden_trophyGrowing up in Cleveland, Ohio, Bolden’s father took her to Cleveland Lumberjacks IHL games. It was then that she fell in love with the speed and intensity of the game.

“From experiencing that, I went straight to Play It Again Sports and suited up,” Bolden said. “I was 7. I haven’t missed a season, and I’m 28 now.”

For her college years, Bolden went to Boston College, helping the Eagles to three Frozen Fours, along with being named a Patty Kazmaier Award candidate, an All-American and a captain.

“BC was a huge moment for me in my career,” said Bolden. “I really found my stride and gained an immense amount of confidence in my game.”

After college, Bolden skated several years in the CWHL and NWHL – women’s professional leagues – and won a Clarkson Cup league championship with the Boston Blades in 2015. She had been the Blades’ first-round draft pick in the 2013 CWHL Draft. She also won an NWHL Isobel Cup title in 2016 with the Boston Pride and was the NWHL Defender of the Year in 2018.

“Winning championships is the dream and playing with current Olympians and trailblazers of the sport continues to drive my passion to win,” Bolden said. “The NWHL was so cool because it was the first-ever paid pro league where I was fawned the Jackie Robinson of women’s hockey. That was when I first came to terms with being a role model.

“At first, I didn’t realize I was a role model, but my first couple years right out of college, I was shocked. Now, I embrace it. I realize that growing up I didn’t have a role model, someone that looked like me who played in my sport. I am now that person for thousands of little black girls and people of color who decide to play the game. It’s a privilege and I am honored to be that figure.”

Loving her time in San Diego, Bolden said she wants to keep helping the Jr. Gulls blossom.

“We will continue to strive to be the best organization that we can be,” Bolden said. “This comes down to the coaching, the parents, the players, and really just coming together and buying in to our potential. I have seen the commitment in so many families and I hope that more people want to come join our club. We have such a good time and we are really starting to see tremendous improvements in the skill of our players which will turn into a program to be known now and in the future.”

— Matt Mackinder

(Dec. 30, 2019)