South Bay 15-year-old becomes 1st American woman to be drafted to Western Hockey League

She's also the league's second female player.

Irene Cruz Image
Thursday, May 18, 2023
SoCal teen becomes 1st American woman drafted to Western Hockey League
At the age of 15, Morgan Stickney of Redondo Beach has been drafted into the Western Hockey League, becoming the league's first American female player.

REDONDO BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- A South Bay teen is making professional hockey history.

At the age of 15, Morgan Stickney of Redondo Beach has been drafted into the Western Hockey League, a major junior ice hockey league based in western Canada and the northwestern U.S.

She's the league's second female player and the first ever American female player.

"I'm a little bit nervous but I'm very excited," said Morgan, who will soon be playing for the Portland Winterhawks. "I have the whole summer to prepare."

The goalie previously played for the Los Angeles Jr. Kings and Shattuck-St. Mary's School in Minnesota. Before that, she played at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach.

Morgan is the youngest of five children, who all grew up loving sports.

"[She] wanted to play flag football like her brothers or doing things that weren't necessarily girlish things," said her mother Tracy Stickney.

Ever since she started playing at the age of 5, Morgan's brother Parker watched her play against boys, breaking barriers and leading the way for young girls in sports.

"I always tell her, 'If you make a mistake, especially with a boys team, they're going to try to blame you,' or the players might go, 'Oh, it's the girl,' but you've got to hold your ground and be stone cold killer," said Parker.

But playing against her male peers doesn't faze Morgan.

"Focused for the game, I'm going to have a good game and pressure doesn't worry me," she said.

She's been inspired by players like Manon Rhéaume - who is the first woman to play in exhibition game in any of the major North American pro-sports leagues - and American ice hockey goaltender Alex Rigsby.

"Alex Rigsby played on the U.S. Olympic team for the longest time and ever since I was young, I had her jersey and I met her one day and it was so cool. I got it signed and I thought it was the coolest moment ever."

Morgan will start training in Portland later this year.

"She's told us ever since she was young, she was going to be the goalie on the U.S. Olympic team," said Morgan's father, Kenneth Stickney. "I always tell her, 'Look, somebody's got to be it, so why not you?'"

Above it all, the 15-year-old's family says they'll always be her biggest fan.

"I know how much work she puts in, I know how much she deserves the success she's given, but just awesome to see it recognized at a national level," said Parker.