Oshawa, Ont. – Every Sunday night sitting next to his grandpa, Poppy, in section 103 of the Tribute Communities Centre, Kyle Bollers realized his childhood dream of playing for the Oshawa Generals.
In 2018, his dream came true. Bollers played 49 games for his hometown team. While on-ice success was important to him, it wasn’t the only thing that mattered.
He knew what it meant to have someone local to look up to. This is why suiting up for the Generals was important to him as a Black man.
“Being a hometown player and growing up in Oshawa, I knew I had a lot of kids looking up to me,” said Bollers. “But it was especially cool to see young black fans relating to me because I look more like them with the number of Black OHL hockey players being not as common.”
Getting to the OHL is a lot of work for young hockey players, but the work doesn’t stop off the ice. Being able to speak up for yourself, while also representing your community is something many players in the league are proud of.
This is no different for Bollers.
“When I moved away [from home] at 16 I was playing with much older guys and I had to learn to use my voice,” he said. “I’ve had many great teammates along my journey who also gave me confidence and encouragement to speak up, stand up for myself, and become a leader.”
After graduating from the OHL, Bollers committed to Ryerson University, where he will play for the Ryerson Rams. He wants his new teammates to remember something very simple.
“When it comes to sports all athletes are the same,” he said. “It doesn’t matter about their race or background, they all should expect to be treated equally regardless of the colour of their skin.”
Advocacy for Black rights and equality has evolved outside of hockey for Bollers. He started a clothing line called ‘Against All Odds’ (AAO) thanks to his passion and creativity for clothing and fashion.
He creates for AAO with one overall message – to never give up.
“I felt like ‘against all odds’ was my lifestyle. Despite every door that closed on me I didn’t give up. I kept going and another door opened for me.”
“My junior [hockey] career was full of obstacles but I didn’t give up and made the best of every opportunity that I was given. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you want to be, you can achieve it if you truly believe you can, even if the odds are against you.”
Bollers successfully raised $1000 selling “One” t-shirts. The t-shirt represents that no one is alone – one team, one community, one voice. He donated the money to a youth boys and girls club in Toronto and hopes to continue raising money while he plays for the Rams.
If you want to support Bollers in giving back to his communities, you can purchase your own “One” shirt on his website.