By Ross Forman – Chyne Lewis was a figure skater who, when she finished practicing, saw hockey players at the rink, ready for their practices or games. She was intrigued, as she has three older brothers, so physicality was commonplace and part of her interest in hockey.
She had wanted to play football, but her parents rejected that request.
But she got the green-light for hockey – and played her first year (fall and spring seasons) for boys’ teams for the St. Jude Knights youth hockey program.
She has played the last three seasons for girls’ teams, this season for the 14U Knights.
“I have fun playing hockey … and the physicality,” said Lewis, 14, a freshman at Lincoln-Way West High School in New Lenox.
Lewis, a right-handed shooting forward, is a playmaker on ice: “I like to pass, help set up my teammates for goals,” she said.
She also is a fast, skilled skater who still enjoys the physicality of the sport. And St. Jude “is a really good team,” she said.
Lewis also plays basketball and competes on the school’s track team. All sports help one another, she said. “Hockey helps build my leg strength, coordination and balance. Track helps with endurance and stamina.”
Basketball is her favorite, as she is a shooting guard.
Lewis competes in multiple running events and the high jump. In fact, she has been competing in high jump since she was in sixth grade and has competed multiple times in high jump at the state level since she was in junior high school.
Hockey is now her award-winning sport. She was one of seven worldwide recipients of a Winter 2021 Scholarship from the Black Girl Hockey Club, which has established a scholarship program to subsidize the costs of playing hockey for Black women ages 9 to 18.
“I was kind of shocked, yet happy,” Lewis said when she learned she had been awarded the scholarship. “I thought there would be a lot of people (applying), a lot of competition.”
Her father found the website, searching for financial assistance for hockey. She pursued, then applied.
“I was happy, excited to help my parents,” with the financial burden of paying for hockey,” she said. “It really felt good,” to win the scholarship.
“Being surprised that I won made it more rewarding.”
When she told her Knights teammates, they were “really happy for me, really supportive.”
“We were very proud of her, very excited,” that she won the scholarship, said Chyne’s mom, Keisha. “She had to write an essay (as part of the scholarship application) and it stated that parents should not interfere or help with the essay. Originally, when I saw her essay, I wanted to edit it a little, but she said, ‘No mom; it’s fine; I like it like this.’”
Chyne added, “I thought it was good, but my mom bugged me,” with suggestions.
Ultimately, the essay was all Chyne’s words – about herself, and about how hockey and being Black has affected her.
“To be honest, (race) really hasn’t affected me too much, though I know it has affected others more,” she said. “It makes me feel good that I can help make hockey more diverse. It feels good to represent other females and Black girls, to hopefully get more people to come out and play hockey, to see how much fun the sport is.”
Hockey now trumps figure skating, for sure.
“I do miss it, but I don’t think I’ll go back to it … I love hockey.”