SAN DIEGO — Former San Diego Gulls player, Jordan Samuels-Thomas retired from professional hockey earlier this year. Typically for those who decide to hang up their skates, it marks the end of their career. For those like Samuels-Thomas that could never quite break through to the sports highest level, it means falling just short of their childhood dreams. JST, as he is known, never broke through as a player to the NHL, but now he has started down a new path and once again has dreams of skating on NHL ice.
Instead of donning a sweater with Gulliver (San Diego's seagull-based mascot) on the front, his new outfit resembles more of a zebra than a bird. Jordan now referees some of the same players he suited up with when playing for the Gulls. In his first year as an on-ice official, Samuels-Thomas is already an American Hockey League referee and has his sights on the National Hockey League.
Beyond the pursuit of skating at hockey's highest level, Samuels-Thomas also brings a welcomed difference to a sport that has been known to lack diversity. JST is currently the only black official in the AHL and with only one black on-ice official in the NHL, Samuels-Thomas continues to push the barriers of his sport.
Gulls and hockey fans alike should have nothing but love for Jordan's impressive story of resilience and pursuit of inclusion. So here's to one of the rare times we get to cheer for the men and women in the stripes!
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