ican kids like me doing the same thing.”
Greenway, a 6-foot-6, 230-pound junior forward at Boston University, has always been aware of the color of his skin, though he said it never had a huge impact on him growing up in Canton, N.Y.
“My whole life I’ve been around white people,” said Greenway, whose mother Shannon Sullivan is white. “I mean, I play hockey, and it’s no secret there are more white people playing the game.”
That became the norm for him and his younger brother, JD Greenway, a sophomore defenseman at the University of Wisconsin. They played the game because everyone else did, never really thinking about the fact that one of them might someday go on to make history.
“To be honest, I didn’t even know that I would potentially be the first African-American to play for Team USA in the Olympics until a little bit before I found out I actually made the team,” Greenway said. “It was never really in my head. I just looked at myself as another kid that’s worked really hard to get to this point.”
Greenway was drafted by the Minnesota Wild in the second round of the 2015 NHL Draft and likely could have signed a professional contract at some point last season. Instead, he chose to stay in school, and with NHL players barred from playing in the Olympics, he’s had the chance to live out a childhood dream.
“It’s definitely pretty crazy that I’m here now,” he said. “I never thought I’d be here at the Olympics before I graduated college, you know what I mean? It’s been unbelievable. It’s something I’ll never forget. I’m very fortunate.”
Greenway knows he’s in Korea only because NHL players are not. He even mentioned other AfricanAmerican players, such as Winnipeg Jets defenseman and Minnesotan Dustin Byfuglien and Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones as guys that could ha broken the barrier if circumstances had been different.
“It just worked out that I was the first person,” Greenway said. “I definitely won’t be the last.”
While he’s focused on bringing home a gold medal, Greenway said he’ll return to school after the Olympics, noteworthy because he could technically sign with the Wild at that point.