Welcome to history, Jordan Greenway.
The New York native and Boston University star is set to become the first African-American player to compete for U.S. hockey at the Olympics, but Greenway isn’t really focused on his legacy. He’s focused on the here and now and how many goals he can score while trying to win a gold medal.
This has been his dream for as long as he can remember and while he’s hoping to serve as an inspiration to others, Greenway still has one very specific goal – winning. Here’s everything you need to know about him:
1. Greenway Is the First African-American Player to Compete for U.S. Hockey at the Olympics
Greenway is doing his best to take it all in stride, but the spotlight ahead of the PyeongChang Olympics is unquestionably bright.
The New York native is set to become the first African-American to compete for the United State’s men’s hockey team in the Olympics and Greenway is enjoying the moment. He told USA Today:
I think it’s great, it’s unbelievable. 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 said he hopes to be a role model for other Olympic hopefuls, particularly when he comes to hockey. He told Newsweek: “Hopefully I’m the first of many. Hopefully these kids go out, try something different, play hockey, and hopefully I see a lot more playing in the near future.”
Although this is the first time he’ll be suiting up for the Olympics, PyeongChang isn’t the first time Greenway has donned red, white and blue. He competed with the U.S. in three International Ice Hockey Federation world championships, winning gold with the 2015, U.S. Men’s National Under-18 team and the 2017 U.S. National Junior Team.
2. He Grew Up in Upstate New York, but Played High School Hockey in Minnesota
Greenway grew up less than an hour from the Canadian border in Canton, New York – a less-than-well-known hot bed of hockey. He fine-tuned his game on frozen ponds and local ice rinks, but never played high-school hockey in the area.
In fact, when he was just 14 years old, Greenway and his mother, Shannon Sullivan, came up with a plan. He and his brother would be allowed to attend Shattuck-Saint Mary’s, a boarding school in Faribault, Minn., on one condition – they earn scholarships for college.
It worked out fairly well. Greenway who is a standout at Boston University. And the choice to head back east was an easy one, particularly after years away from home. “I’ve been away from home for a while, and I kind of want to stay a little bit closer to home,” Greenway told the Watertown Times in 2014. “BU has some great facilities and I think the city of Boston is great as well. I went there and, deep down, I thought it was the place for me.”
3. Greenway Is a Winger at Boston University
The 21-year-old, who celebrated the milestone birthday at the Olympic Games, was drafted by the Minnesota Wild in the second round of the 2015 NHL Draft and Greenway toyed with the idea of turning pro before opting to return to the college game for his junior season. He explained the choice to NHL.com, saying:
I want to win a lot more championships [in Boston]. I want to find a way to create more offense for myself [at the college level] first, and be more of an impact player when I come in here [to the Wild]. I don’t want to be average. I want to come in and have an impact for a while as soon as I can, so going back to school for one more year, that’s what I’m going to do.
As of February 8, Greenway had played in 28 games for BU during the 2017-18 season, notching nine goals and 16 assists. The highlight of the season came just before the Olympics as Greenway assisted on the game-winning goal as the Terriers topped 3-2 in double overtime in the first round of the annual Beanpot Tournament. Greenway, however, wasn’t able to compete in the final – he had to get to South Korea.
He also played in 37 games as a sophomore and racked up 31 points.
4. His Brother, JD, Plays College Hockey at Wisconsin
Talent runs in the family, but sometimes it’s a little dramatic.
Greenway’s younger brother is currently a sophomore at Wisconsin, looking to hit his stride after missing the first half of the season with what his coach called called “personal things.”
“He’s got everything in order that needs to be in order,” Wisconsin coach Tony Granato told the State Journal, “and now it’s time to carry that over onto the ice and have an impact on our team.He just had some things off the ice, academically and some other things that we wanted to make sure were in a place where he could come back and be part of our team.”
JD, a defenseman for the Badgers, played in 34 games his freshman season, scoring one goal and assisting on six others. He was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the third round of the 2016 NHL Draft and has also competed for Team USA, playing with the Under-18 team in 2015-16 and winning a bronze medal at the 2016 International Ice Hockey Federation U18 Men’s World Championships.
5. Greenway Is the Biggest Player on Team USA
Even if he weren’t making history, Greenway would still cut an imposing figure on the ice. At 6-foot-6, 226 pounds, he’s the tallest and biggest player on the Team USA roster – perfect for screening opposing goalies in front of the net.
And NHL eyes have started taking notice as well. Wild director of player development Brad Bombardir told NHL.com:
He’s starting to learn what his strengths really are. Taking pucks to the net. Forcing himself to the front of the net. Living in the blue paint as much as he can. Those are his strengths. He would do that maybe once in a while a couple years ago. Now he’s really starting to realize that that’s where his game lies, and he has to play that way night in and night out.
Greenway’s game isn’t defined by his size, but it certainly helps and, with his eyes on gold at PyeongChang, the winger is determined to make sure he leaves a lasting impression every time he steps onto the ice.