In 1987, Angela James played in the first major world hockey tournament in women’s hockey. Unsanctioned by the IIHF, the tournament is a major piece of women’s hockey history and the driving factor behind the IIHF’s decision to host a women’s tournament in 1990.
More than 34 years after the tournament, James will once again be a part of the arc of hockey history, this time as an assistant coach of the Toronto Six, and she’ll be doing it at an arena that’s only 20 minutes away from where the historic 1987 tournament was held in North York.
“It means a lot to me to have an opportunity to coach the girls and be a part of the progression and advancement of the women’s game to pro status and beyond,” said James in Toronto’s press release.
James played hockey as well as fastball at Seneca College in Toronto, where she was named the women’s hockey MVP for the entire Ontario College Athletic Association for all three years she played on the team. James has been a gold medalist as a player and as a coach, and is more than qualified for an assistant coaching position.
“I grew up playing elite hockey after college and all women should have that same opportunity. Hockey is hockey. We have a talented team, great coaches and a great administration. I look forward to working with everyone and being a part of the Toronto Six, and more especially, winning,” said James.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Angela and have her by my side as Assistant Coach of the Toronto Six,” said Head Coach Mark Joslin.
Joslin and James became friends at Seneca College, both of them playing varsity hockey while taking the same courses.
“It was a simple decision for me to ask her to come on board,” said Joslin, “Angela’s success, experience and knowledge in the world of women’s pro hockey speaks for itself. The NWHL, the Toronto Six franchise, and I are extremely fortunate to have Angela be a part of the future of women’s pro hockey.”
James’ name is engrained in women’s hockey history, particularly in Canada. James was a part of the Central Ontario Women’s Hockey League for 18 years. She played in the first National Women’s Hockey League (1999-2007), winning a title with the Beatrice Aeros before she retired. Before the CWHL ceased operations, the trophy presented to the league’s highest-scoring player was named the “Angela James Bowl,” in her honor. In her career that spanned two decades, James served as captain of Team Canada and remains the only Black player to have done so. She also became one of the first women and the first openly gay player to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2008.
In a video posted on Twitter, newly signed Toronto Six defender, Saroya Tinker, shared her excitement at the opportunity to play for James and Joslin in 2021-22.
“In my 20-year career, I’ve never been coached by a Coach of Color and this upcoming season with the Toronto Six, I have the opportunity to be coached by two, Coach Mark Joslin and Coach Angela James. This is how you make meaningful change, you hire Black people,” Tinker said.
As a player, James embodied the “Fun. Fast. Furious” mantra of this Toronto Six team, setting an IIHF record in the 1990 Women’s tournament with 11 goals in five games.
Having someone as prolific and tremendously qualified and experience as Angela James behind the bench is a massive step forward for the young Toronto Six franchise.