As Canada’s first female hockey superstar, Angela James has been showered with accolades and hardware befitting her prodigious career.
Her trophy case is about to get another addition.
The Hall of Famer will be honoured with a YWCA Woman of Distinction Award on May 16.
James dominated the sport at the Ontario College Athletic Association level where she was a three-time scoring champion and Most Valuable Player (MVP). As a defence player for Seneca College, she achieved the remarkable feat of scoring 50 goals in the 1984-85 season.
She was the leading scorer for eight seasons and the MVP winner six times in the Central Ontario Women’s Hockey League, and a four-time World Championships gold medallist. At the inaugural World Championships in 1990, James netted 11 goals in five matches. Overall, she registered 34 points in 20 games in the first four tournaments.
James, whose brother, Theo Peckham, is a defenceman with the Edmonton Oilers, also won gold medals in the 1996 and 1999 Three Nations Cup tournaments between Canada, Finland and the United States.
The two-time Seneca Female Athlete of the Year, whose number eight was retired when she graduated, was inducted into the community college Hall of Fame and honoured with a Distinguished Alumni Award eight years ago.
To recognize her contributions to the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, the Angela James Bowl was created four years ago. It is awarded to the league’s top scorer. In June 2009, Flemingdon Park Arena – where James learned to skate and hone her hockey skills and where she later helped develop a free hockey program that encourages girls to lace up and play the sport – was renamed the Angela James Arena.
“Girls and women deserve resources and opportunity to play sports,” said James. “I fight for those resources because it’s only fair that we have the same chance as to enjoy and benefit from sport.”
She is one of two Black women to have North American hockey arenas named after them. The Laura Sims Skatehouse, which was opened in 1985, is named after the late founder of a minority youth hockey program in Philadelphia.
James, a senior sports coordinator at Seneca College, and five-time Stanley Cup champion, Grant Fuhr, are the only two Blacks in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Previous YWCA Women of Distinction Award winners include former provincial cabinet minister Mary Anne Chambers, educator Dr. Avis Glaze, Ontario’s Fairness Commissioner Jean Augustine, filmmaker Claire Prieto, human rights and labour activist June Veecock, poet/playwright M. Nourbese Philip, community workers and women advocates Debbie Douglas, Rev. Paulette Brown, Kay Blair, Angela Robertson, Kamala-Jean Gopie, Ebonnie Rowe, Beth Jordan and the late Dr. Joan Lesmond and Beverly Mascoll.
Established in 1981, the awards honour women for their outstanding community commitment. Funds accrued from the event go to employment, housing and counseling programs.
By RON FANFAIR