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The Field of Dreams Academy is developing a hockey program focused on teaching the fundamental skills of the game. Our program has several initiatives to engage diverse youth groups who want to learn more and participate in the sport. We want to create a new generation of players and fans for the sport of hockey.

The 2007-2008 season marked the 50th anniversary of the first appearance of a black player in a National Hockey League game.

In fact, this year is the anniversary of two significant advances for minority players in the NHL and both involve Willie O'Ree. Forty-seven years ago, O'Ree became the first black player in NHL history to score a goal.

It had been 11 years since Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in professional baseball amid great controversy. But there was little fanfare surrounding Willie O'Ree's call-up to the Boston Bruins.
Mr. O'Ree had a brief call up with the Boston Bruins during the 1957-58 season. He was brought up from the Quebec Aces and played his first game on Jan. 18, 1958 at the Montreal Forum. The Bruins won, 3-0. Mr. O'Ree played one more game, replacing an injured Bruins player, and then returned to the Aces to continue working on his skills.

"I didn't get any goals but I had already accomplished my biggest one," Mr. O'Ree wrote in his autobiography. "On the night of Jan. 18, 1958, I became the first black man to play in the NHL."

O'Ree recalled there was no mention of the historic feat in the local newspapers.

"Nobody called me the 'Jackie Robinson of Hockey' then but that's how I felt. Of course, Jackie had far worse things happen to him that I ever did, but there I was, in a place where no black man had ever been."

To commemorate his work and recognize this milestone, the National Hockey League and Mr. Willie O'Ree will host numerous activities throughout the season at both the local and national levels-including events celebrating the diversity of the game and the Hockey is for Everyone initiative.

By John McGourty - NHL.com Staff Writer

During the 2008 NHL All-Star Weekend in Atlanta, the Field of Dreams Academy was an invited guest of the NHL Diversity and Atlanta Thrashers' Foundation, at their "Diversity Luncheon." In addition to honoring Mr. O'Ree, the luncheon celebrated leaders and local organizations in Atlanta who have contributed to promoting diversity. The Field of Dreams Academy was honored to receive an invitation to be a part of this special event.

Our objective is to become a sanctioned partner of Hockey is for Everyone program. Hockey is for Everyone is a part of the NHL Foundation, the National Hockey League's charitable and community relations organization, and a major component of the League's youth hockey programming.

Hockey is for Everyone provides support and unique programming to non-profit youth hockey organizations across North America that are committed to offering children, of all backgrounds, opportunities to play hockey. Since its inception, Hockey is for Everyone has exposed more than 45,000 boys and girls to unique hockey experiences.

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