ELLICOTT CITY, Md. — “I'm just a regular old hockey mom,” said Tammi Lynch. “Each person can help to make a change and be a part of the change to change the culture.”
Lynch isn't a regular old anything.
The National Hockey League agrees.
“I never would have thought that I would be standing here today with people taking such an interest,” she said.
The Ellicott City resident is one of three finalists for the NHL's Willie O'Ree Community Hero Award. Tammi co-founded Players Against Hate.
“Working with teams, working with kids and teaching them ways to stand up when they see something that's wrong. We're trying to stop the hate on the rink and in the stands.”
The award, named after the first black hockey player in the NHL, is given to an individual who - through the game of hockey - has positively impacted his or her community, culture or society.
Tammi created the website playersagainsthate.org along with T-shirts, stickers and buttons all geared toward ending racism in hockey. The idea came to her after one of her son's teammates, 13-year-old Divyne Apollon, was racially taunted on the ice .
O'Ree called Tammi personally to tell her she was a finalist for the award.
“I think the act of helping a friend, or standing up when you see something said that's not right, that's all each person needs to do. That's all I did."
What she's been doing since is spreading the word to local youth hockey teams that hockey is greater than hate. The NHL even invited her to New Jersey to share her experience in fighting racial intolerance.
She'll also be honored by the Howard County branch of the NAACP later this month.
She's an extraordinary hockey mom with a message the world is hearing.
”I'm grateful for the exposure to be able to keep that message going,“ she said.
The winner of the NHL's Community Hero Award is determined by fan voting, which runs through May 5. The winner will be revealed in June during the NHL Awards in Las Vegas.
You can vote for Tammi online here once a day.