Talent Development Business Partner Meredith Lang is working to ‘change the game’ and diversify girls youth hockey through her non-profit organization, Minnesota Unbounded
When Meredith Lang was a teenager, playing hockey seemed like a quintessential “Minnesota thing to do.”
“I played in high school,” said Lang, Endeavor Air Talent Development Business Partner, and co-founder of the nonprofit organization Minnesota Unbounded. “I quickly found out that I was fast, but couldn’t stop.”
Meredith went on to run track in college, but fast forward a few years, and the mom of two found herself back on the ice when her then-5-year-old daughter expressed interest in playing hockey.
“My daughter said that she wanted to play, and she just didn’t see any faces that looked like hers,” said Lang.“It was an opportunity for me as a parent to find other avenues for her to see that…It was very important that my daughters saw girls and role models they could look up to.”
Connecting with former Bemidji State hockey player Tina Kampa, the two women reached out to other hockey families and coaches of color who wanted to give back to the game, and together they co-founded Minnesota Unbounded.
This year, the nonprofit and tournament hockey team represents more than 50 girls in the Twin Cities metro area from 20 different hockey associations with a mission to diversify the game.
“Minnesota Unbounded is the first team of its kind in the entire country; there’s no other team that is represented in the country that has as many families of color as we do,” said Lang.
“It’s really important to work with our families to be a support system for them, but also to be pioneers and cheerlead inclusion in the game.”
As a catalyst for diversity in girl’s hockey, Minnesota Unbounded has become a resource for others in need of inclusion support. Lang said there is an appetite among hockey organizations to increase their diversity numbers and ensure the teams are more representative of the communities they serve.
According to Lang, the issue goes beyond building interest; it’s about building culture.
“If our players aren’t feeling included, [don’t] feel like they belong or that the culture is positive, it doesn’t matter how many kids that they get out for the game, they’re not going to stay in the game,” said Lang.
“That’s really where Minnesota Unbounded comes in.”
This year, Lang was recognized with the 2022 National Girls and Women in Sports “Breaking Barriers” Award for her work with Minnesota Unbounded. She is also one of three finalists for the NHL’s Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award, which recognizes individuals who utilize hockey “as a platform for participants to build character and develop important life skills for a more positive family experience.”
“It’s an honor to be recognized for the work we do to grow the game,” said Lang. “I appreciate our story being told so we can create more spaces for underrepresented communities to be seen and elevated in hockey.”
Lang’s daughter also has her eyes set on the sky, with aspirations to one day become an airline pilot. Today, women make up less than 6% of the professional pilots in the United States, and black women make up less than 1% of that group. Lang said that showing her daughters how to champion diversity in underrepresented communities will prepare them for success in life.
“This is not only just teaching them to push through when times get hard, but that they can be trailblazers themselves within their own sport or within their school or with other organizations,” said Lang. “They have all the tools that they need to be successful, and as a parent, our job is just to back them up.”