GANGNEUNG, South Korea — Jordan Greenway doesn’t know when this historic moment will hit him.
He predicts it won’t happen while he’s helping Team USA try to win a gold medal in Pyeongchang. But sometime down the road it will have more of an impact.
Greenway, a junior winger for Boston University, is the first African-American to compete for the U.S. men’s hockey team in the Olympics.
“I think it’s great, it’s unbelievable,” Greenway said following a practice at Gangneung Ice Arena. “I don’t think it’s hit me how I think it will later on in my life to be honest with you. I grew up around a predominantly white population and a lot of white people playing (hockey), so I’ve always looked at it as just another kid. I think it’s an honor. I’m very excited about it. I hope I’m the first of many.”
Greenway, 20, has played hockey all his life. He put on his first pair of skates when he was 3. It’s what kids are accustomed to growing up in Canton, N.Y., which is 20 miles from the Canadian border. Plus his brother J.D., who is a sophomore defenseman at Wisconsin, and all of his cousins played. He was just next in the family line. Greenway tried out other sports — football, lacrosse, baseball — but didn’t develop the same passion.
“I was OK at them,” he said, laughing. “I kind of mixed it up, but I don’t know. I always had the most fun playing hockey. I enjoyed waking up really early in the morning and playing hockey. I didn’t have the same enjoyment going to (play other sports). I didn’t want to do that for football or other sports. Just thought this was the right fit for me.”
Greenway was drafted by the Minnesota Wild in 2015, but chose to stay in school. Because the NHL prohibited its players from Olympic competition, he’s able to live out his dream as an amateur.
Physically, he’s a big body on the ice at 6-5, 230 flat-footed. Greenway estimates he’s 6-8 or 6-9 on skates, but such an imposing figure could fudge his numbers and say he’s 7-feet and no one would blink.
His height certainly provides an advantage when getting to the net, protecting the puck and creating space, but it’s not always better to be bigger, he said.
“You get some of these smaller guys who are quick and they put you on edge,” he said, smiling. “But it definitely has a lot of benefits.”
Greenway tallied 25 points in 28 games for Boston U. this season and was second with eight points on the U.S. team that won gold in the 2017 junior world championships. He also played for the 2017 world championship team that finished fifth.
By making history, Greenway hopes to use these Olympics to inspire other African-American kids to play hockey.
“That’s definitely the goal,” he said. “Trying to get more, not just African American, but more cultures playing. I don’t think it’s any secret that more white people play than black people. So hopefully I can try to be another role model to try to put it in these kids’ minds to hopefully try and do something different and hopefully we’ll get more black people and different cultures playing the game.”