DetroitRedWings.com’s Josh Berenter profiles Rico Phillips, who won the Willie O’Ree Award for his efforts to promote the game of hockey in Flint, Michigan:
At the NHL Awards ceremony last month, among hockey superstars like Sydney Crosby, Auston Matthews and Carey Price, there was a non-NHLer who stuck out in the crowd.
But that person, Rico Phillips, is used to sticking out in a crowd of hockey players.
When Phillips began playing hockey at Flint Southwestern High School in the 80s, he didn’t see many players that looked like him. So as an adult, he decided to do something about it.
In 2010, Phillips founded the Flint Inner-City Youth Hockey Program in an effort to engage more African-Americans in his favorite sport. The program provides free instruction and hockey equipment to children in the Flint area aged 8-11. Participants are also provided with free transportation to and from sessions.
On June 19, the 50-year-old Phillips was honored for his benevolence as he received the Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award at the annual NHL Awards banquet in Las Vegas.
The award recognizes an individual, who like O’Ree, has worked to make a positive impact on his or her community, culture or society to make people better through hockey.