Tag Archives: Hockey

TSU professor designs Black History Month jersey for NHL Nashville Predators

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – When the Nashville Predators entered Bridgestone Arena this week to observe Black History Month, the NHL team wore a jersey designed by a Tennessee State University professor. Kaleena Sales, department chair and associate professor of art and design, revealed her design at the Predators Black History Celebration game on Wednesday, Jan. 31. Sales says the design offers a duality that bridges historical and contemporary Black culture.

I’m excited and honored to have the opportunity to represent TSU and Nashville as a Black designer,” Sales said.

A look at the front design for the Predators jerseys and T-shirts for the Black History Celebration game at Bridgestone Arena. (Photo submitted)

“To be celebrated professionally in such a public way means something to me. It speaks to the growth that we’ve had, and it honors what Black History Month celebration should really be about.”

This is the second consecutive year the Predators have chosen a TSU professor to design cultural jerseys and T-shirts for hockey players and fans, honoring Black History Month (BHM). The jerseys and T-shirts, designed by Sales and co-created with Predators graphic designer Tayshaun Hassell, were worn by players upon their arrival at the arena prior to game time. These items will be signed and auctioned off through the Nashville Predators’ Foundation at a later date.

Amy Bratten, the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the Nashville Predators, said the organization anticipated showcasing the artistry in honor of the historical celebration.

“It is such a gift to have Kaleena Sales contribute to our Black History Celebration,” Bratten said.

“What Kaleena Sales and Preds Graphic Designer, Tayshaun Hassell, created is educational and dynamic. Our players and staff were excited to showcase the artwork on January 31. We’re excited to have the logo displayed all over Smashville!”

The black and gold jerseys and T-shirts, according to Sales, feature custom lively West African patterns symbolizing purity, wisdom, love, harmony, and more. The unique design was also showcased on lanyards distributed to the first 5,000 fans in attendance.

“The symbols were designed by the Akan people from Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana during the early 1800s and have a rich and beautiful history,” explained Sales.

“The geometric pattern used alongside the Adinkra symbols is meant to represent the vibrancy of contemporary Black culture.” 

Sales noted that the designs aim to honor the past by connecting it to the present. With over 20 years of experience as a graphic designer, Sales expressed the significance of this opportunity, emphasizing its importance not only for herself but also for the community she represents.

“This exposure is expected to bring increased visibility to TSU and the surrounding HBCUs.”

The Predator’s annual Black History celebration night recognized all four of Nashville’s HBCUs, featuring a battle of the bands with three local high schools, and included the National Anthem and in-game performances by Africa-American musical artists.

In 2023, the Nashville Predators selected Eric Jackson, TSU assistant professor of graphic design, to create the players jersey designs worn during the Black History Celebration game day warm-ups. Jackson expressed his appreciation for the continuous partnership between the organization and TSU, highlighting the ongoing acknowledgment of Black creatives.

“We are service providers, and we are mostly behind the scenes, so it’s great to be acknowledged,” Jackson said.

As a hockey fan, Jackson is especially excited about this year’s annual celebration, coinciding with TSU being the first HBCU to offer men’s ice hockey at the collegiate level. TSU hockey is set to commence its inaugural season this fall.

Dr. Samantha Morgan Curtis, dean of TSU’s College of Liberal Arts, said the selection of two of her professors speaks to the quality of the University’s art programs.

“We are grateful that the Predators recognize the brilliance of our faculty,” added Morgan-Curtis.

“The College of Liberal Arts is excited about the Predators partnership and all the possibilities it affords our students and faculty. This project specifically highlights the quality of our graphic design program. We are thankful to the hockey team for this opportunity.”

Morgan Curtis also shared that TSU will be the first HBCU to host the upcoming State of Black Design Conference in March, another testament to the program and faculty.

To learn more about the Predators Black History celebration and to purchase Professor’s Sales custom design T-shirt, click here.

TSU to mark historic milestone as first HBCU to introduce collegiate ice hockey

By Nick Guerriero

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is set to make history by becoming the first historically black college or university (HBCU) to offer men’s ice hockey at the collegiate level. TSU will make this groundbreaking announcement at Bridgestone Arena prior to the 2023 NHL Draft on Wednesday, June 28, 2023. The addition of ice hockey highlights the University’s dedication to fostering diversity, inclusion, and expanding athletic opportunities for students.

“Bringing ice hockey to Tennessee State University is a part of our continued commitment to provide our students with new opportunities and to broaden new interests in areas where they have traditionally had limited or no access,” said TSU President Glenda Glover.

“We appreciate our ongoing partnership with the Nashville Predators which has played a pivotal role in our decision to pursue this historic undertaking, of starting an ice hockey program at TSU, and the first for an HBCU. TSU has a tremendous legacy in athletics. Adding ice hockey to our programs will start a new chapter and build upon that legacy.” 

TSU President Glenda Glover

TSU Hockey will commence its inaugural season in 2024, signaling a new era for the university. The team will begin as a club-level program but aspires to achieve NCAA Division I status for both men’s and women’s sides in the near future. While no specific timeline exists for achieving varsity NCAA status, TSU is committed to building a solid foundation for long-term success.

“Today is a historic day as Tennessee State University, a prestigious HBCU, collaborates with the National Hockey League (NHL) and the Nashville Predators in an unprecedented partnership,” stated Dr. Mikki Allen, TSU Director of Athletics.

“TSU had been a great partner of the Predators for some time, and we are excited to help them work toward the goal of becoming the first HBCU to field a NCAA Division I college hockey team. President Glover and Dr. Allen are visionaries in their respective positions and should be lauded for continuing to build Nashville into the ultimate hockey town.”

The club hockey program will receive comprehensive oversight under the guidance of the Department of Athletics, ensuring a well-structured and successful implementation. TSU is currently in the process of hiring a Director of Club Hockey Operations, who will be responsible for fundraising, seeking corporate partnerships, recruiting student-athletes, and managing day-to-day operations. In the interim, Assistant AD Nick Guerriero will handle all inquiries related to TSU Hockey.

Dr. Mikki Allen, TSU Director of Athletics

“I am thrilled to embark on this exciting journey with Dr. Allen to promote diversity and excellence in collegiate hockey,” said Guerriero. “We will strive to elevate the program to new heights, establishing a legacy that will inspire future generations. I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the development of the program on and off the ice, and I eagerly anticipate the challenges and successes that await us.”

The foray into collegiate ice hockey represents a significant milestone for Tennessee State University and the broader HBCU community. By breaking barriers and creating fresh opportunities, TSU Hockey aims to establish a lasting legacy of inclusion, excellence, and athletic accomplishment.

“Together, we celebrate the power of collaboration as we dismantle barriers, diversify the game, and propel hockey into a new era of inclusivity,” Allen remarked. “This partnership serves as a catalyst, driving change and ensuring that the game we love embraces the beauty of diversity. With Tennessee State University, the NHL, and the Nashville Predators working hand in hand, we have the potential to reshape the future of hockey and inspire generations to come. Together, we will forge a path towards a more inclusive and united hockey community.”

To support this initiative, the NHL, NHL Players Association, Nashville Predators, and College Hockey Inc. will play integral roles in the lead-up to the announcement. College Hockey Inc. conducted a feasibility study in 2021, emphasizing the significance of introducing ice hockey at an HBCU to promote diversity and inclusion in sports.

“Introducing hockey at the collegiate level is always exciting but Club Hockey at Tennessee State University is truly special,” said Kevin Westgarth, VP Hockey Development & Strategic Collaboration. “Welcoming Club hockey at a storied HBCU is a meaningful step in the right direction for the sport and will undoubtedly contribute to the vibrant hockey community and inspire future generations of players.”

The Nashville Predators organization has maintained a strong relationship with TSU and began the partnership by joining the University in its February 2020 ‘One Million in One Month’ fundraising campaign as a major contributor. The Nashville-based NHL team has continued to donate to the TSU’s scholarship programs and provide internship and job opportunities through the TSU Career Development Center. 

Furthermore, during Black History Month in February 2022, the NHL hosted the Black Hockey History Tour at Hale Stadium, a pivotal step in bringing the sport of hockey to the TSU campus.

Feasibility study explores possibility of TSU becoming first HBCU to have men’s, women’s hockey teams

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University could become the first historically-black institution to have varsity men’s and women’s ice hockey teams. A feasibility study is exploring the possibility that would also make the university the first in the state to establish a program in Tennessee.

TSU, in partnership with the National Hockey League, Nashville Predators and College Hockey Inc., is hoping the study will be a favorable one, leading to the historic expansion of intercollegiate athletics.

“The idea of establishing a collegiate hockey program at TSU is a tremendous opportunity as the nation’s first HBCU to take on this endeavor,” said President Glenda Glover. “This allows us to expand the sport, increase diversity, and introduce a new fan base.”

“Our partnership with the Nashville Predators and Sean Henry continues to cultivate groundbreaking programs that will have a lasting impact on the University and our students. We are appreciative for the leadership from the National Hockey League and NCAA College Hockey Inc. in helping to lay the foundation for this process with hopes of bringing college hockey to TSU.”

Since 2017, the National Hockey League and National Hockey League Players’ Association have sponsored feasibility studies to U.S. colleges and universities that are interested in exploring the addition of NCAA D-I Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey to their athletic offerings. The study helps guide the schools through the planning, processes, and requisites for establishing a varsity hockey program. This project was launched to aid the development of high-level hockey across the United States, which will provide more opportunities for elite players, access and exposure to new families, and new facilities.

The feasibility study will answer questions about how viable is hockey at TSU, and what needs to happen to put teams on the ice.

“Despite the absence of a Division-I Hockey program, the state is filled with talented prospective student-athletes that could build a winning program at Tennessee State University,” said Director of Athletics Dr. Mikki Allen.

“We are extremely excited about the prospect of adding men’s and women’s ice hockey to our athletics programs. Having the support of the Nashville Predators and the NHL is truly phenomenal and it speaks to the commitment that these two organizations have to growing the game of hockey.”

Over the last decade, Middle Tennessee has seen the second-highest percentage increase in youth hockey in the United States. In the past six years alone, there have been four new facilities – and seven sheets of ice – that have been built or are in the process of being built in Middle Tennessee.

“Taking this initial step with Tennessee State University, led by their ambitious and visionary leadership, awakens thought on potential playing opportunities, new facilities, and new avenues to watch live hockey, all driven by an HBCU and NHL club in the heart of Nashville. This could be a game-changer.” said Kevin Westgarth, Vice President Hockey Development and Strategic Collaboration at NHL.

“The passion and vision of President Glover, Dr. Allen and all of Tennessee State University’s leadership in pushing to make hockey a more diverse and inclusive sport through this feasibility study is both inspiring and humbling,” said Nashville Predators President and CEO Sean Henry.

“Through their passion and track record they will be able to create another success story for other schools and communities to chase and ideally emulate. Pair that with our incredible community, our fan base and wealth of community corporate partners and we will collectively take SMASHVILLE and our sport to new heights because of their pursuit of excellence on all fronts.”

Last year, TSU and the Predators partnered to promote student success through scholarships for retention, along with educational and employment opportunities. Jamie Isabel, TSU’s associate vice president of Institutional Advancement, Corporate Relations and Foundations, facilitated the partnership. Isabel said the college hockey teams would benefit the city of Nashville.

“This relationship is certainly indicative of the commitment to the city of Nashville and support of the community by Mr. Herb Fritch, board chair and its members, and Sean Henry, President and CEO and staff,” said Isabel. The former metro councilman added, “Each and every time we called the Predators they showed up.”

The Predators’ partnership with TSU falls in line with the National Hockey League’s “Hockey Is For Everyone” initiative, and the Predators’ effort to create positive change with their GUIDER (Growth, Understanding, Inclusion, Diversity, Equality and Representation) initiative, founded with the objective of diminishing the prevalence of social injustice.

Results from the feasibility study are expected late fall.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and eight doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.