The Metropolitan Riveters Black Rosie Jersey took years to make.
When the jersey made its on-ice debut on February 26, it was truly the culmination of a collaborative effort between many different people around and within the Riveters organization.
The jersey was designed by Jordan Dabney and uses a color scheme of red, green and black, and features a simple (yet bold) line art. The Riveters have used an image of the iconic Rosie the Riveter on their jerseys for years, but until this season Rosie was always depicted as a white woman. The logo was redesigned ahead of Season 7 to a colorless Steel Rosie in an effort to make Rosie non-racial and more inclusive for all players and fans.
The new replacements place a Black Rosie the Riveter front and center.
Erica Ayala, who works with the Riveters as a storyteller and with the league as a broadcaster, says the idea of a Black Rosie is one that’s been around since the early days of the franchise.
“People had seen mockups of a Black Rosie design back when they were still known as New York Riveters,” Ayala said.
The team didn’t end up using a Black Rosie logo, but Ayala remembers seeing Katie Fitzgerald’s goalie helmet in 2017 when she played for the Riveters. The design featured two rivets on each side designed to look like they were attaching his cage to the helmet with rivets. One of the women was black and it hit Ayala. Even during Black History Month, society does a poor job of recognizing and honoring black history. Fitzgerald’s helmet recognized and honored the fact that many black women worked as riveters during World War II.
It was around this time that Ayala contacted Dabney, who is also the creator of the Black Girl Hockey Club. Together they worked to create the Black Rosie logo which Ayala uses and will continue to use as part of its own merchandising and branding. There was always the possibility of the Riveters using a Black Rosie logo on a jersey in the future, so Ayala wanted her Rosie to be distinct. She holds a microphone above her head, a fitting choice to represent PHF’s first and only black and Latin broadcaster.
When Anya Packer became general manager of the Riveters, everyone who had campaigned for a Black Rosie jersey was finally brought to the fore.
“I know Anya has been thinking about it for at least two seasons now,” Ayala said.
For those involved in making the jerseys, it was all about finally having the budget and the opportunity. Jasmine Baker has a lot of experience creating the kind of products that fans really want to wear and are passionate about, she was named Director of Brand Strategy this season. Players were also involved, continuing the conversation and talking about Black Rosie within the organization, including former riveter Rebecca Morse and current captain Madison Packer.
Dabney was approached by the team to design the jersey and remembers being surprised, excited and unsure how to respond to the first email.
“I was actually in my first road game for the Capitals, so I didn’t see the email until afterwards,” she said.
It took a few days to respond to the email, but once she was able to ask questions about what exactly the riveters wanted, she got to work. Many drafts were created and exchanged. There are a lot of bad jerseys out there, and Dabney wanted to make sure his design was simple, clean, and did Black Rosie justice.
One thing she and the Riveters established early on is that the jerseys would be red. Dabney created many drafts in the process, with many different secondary colors, but the one they ended up using features green, black, and white stripes.
“The one I liked the most was also the one they liked the most,” Dabney said.
She took colors traditionally associated with Africa and African culture and transposed them into smaller, more intricate elements of the design. Green stripes feature patterns inspired by traditional African prints.
For Dabney, the occasion to celebrate black hockey is personal. As a black woman, representation has been hard to come by. When she started playing the sport, she often noticed a lack of black people on the ice and in the fan areas.
“It was like, am I the only one? I was searching on Google: ‘Are there any black people who like this sport?’ »
It was important that the debut of the Black Rosie jerseys did not end with the unveiling of a new replacement. The Riveters had to honor black history in hockey to really show what Black Rosie stands for. For Ayala in particular, having Cherie Stewart was a must. Stewart is the first black person to play for the Metropolitan Riveters, and his presence on the ice was important to Ayala as she came to love the game.
“I started hockey because my sister saw Julie Chu on the ice as the only person of color, so I started taking her to games. I fell in love because I saw Blake Bolden, Cherie Stewart, the names never end,” she said.
Cherie Stewart was present at the game on February 26. She and Dabney were able to meet and have a conversation, which is when the emotion hit Ayala.
In hockey, it has too often taken far longer than necessary for black players to get the recognition they deserve. It took until 2018 for Willie O’Ree to be inducted into the Hall of Fame and it’s only recently that we’ve finally started celebrating his legacy and talking about his impact on the sport.
PHF’s history is relatively recent in the grand scheme of things, and black players continue to play and do amazing things. There’s no reason not to honor the history these players make, especially since it’s happening right before our eyes.
Black Rosie and the Metropolitan Riveters are just the beginning.