Retired Flint firefighter Rico Phillips appointed to hockey diversity role

Published: Jul. 16, 2020 at 3:18 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - Rico Phillips spent much of his life promoting the sport of hockey among inner-city children in Flint while serving the city as a firefighter.

Now that his firefighting career has ended, he will be devoting more time to making hockey more diverse. The Ontario Hockey League announced Thursday that Phillips was appointed to the newly created director of cultural diversity and inclusion position.

He will work with the league commissioner to establish and lead a committee advising the league, which includes the Flint Firebirds and Saginaw Spirit, on becoming inclusive for all players, staff and fans.

“There is no question that the biggest challenge facing hockey and sports, at all levels, is how to ensure that the game is inclusive. I believe the key to doing this is to work hard to eradicate racism and ensure an environment that is free from any discrimination,” said Phillips.

He won the National Hockey League’s prestigious Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award last year for his efforts to increase diversity in minor hockey and his work with the Flint Inner-City Youth Hockey Program, which he started in 2010.

“Rico Phillips has proven over the years that he not only understands hockey, but he understands the role that community plays in the sport and the challenges that face players and teams with regards to racism and inclusiveness,” said OHL Commissioner David Branch.

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