PROBLACK HOCKEY BLOG
Edwards can't recall a time when hockey wasn't a constant in her family's Cleveland Heights, Ohio, home.
Her older brother, Bobby, plays club hockey at Bowling Green State University. Her younger sister, Laila, plays for Selects Academy at Bishop Kearney in Rochester, New York. And her youngest brother, Colson, is on the Cleveland Jr. Jacks squad.
"We would play mini-sticks all the time, watch hockey highlights, hockey was always on TV," Edwards said.
The 17-year-old has been a mainstay in the Penguins Elite girls program and has four goals and two assists in 35 games.
"She's been one of our top defensemen since she was 8 years old," said Kathy Pippy, the girl's hockey director for the Penguins Elite and Selects Hockey. "I think it's a combination of her size (5-9, 161), she sees the game really well, she can move the puck up the ice. She can also join in the offense when she needs to, and she has really good hands."
Edwards is headed to the University of Wisconsin next season, where she'll follow of one of her hockey role models, forward Sarah Nurse.
One of Edwards' biggest thrills was meeting Nurse, who scored 137 points (76 goals, 61 assists) in 150 games at Wisconsin from 2013-17. Nurse, who plays for the Toronto Furies of the Canadian Women's Hockey League, is the cousin of Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse.
"It was pretty cool because, as you know, there aren't many black female players in college, so I really look up to her a lot," Edwards said. "She was really nice. She said, 'If you have any questions or anything, you can ask me.' It's really cool to make that connection."
Edwards wants to represent her country, just like Nurse represented Canada at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.
She participated in USA Hockey's Under-18 Select Player Development Camp last summer but admitted afterward that she wasn't prepared.
"When I got there, the game, the pace, was so much faster than I had ever played. It wasn't like I was completely lost out there, but I knew I had to be a little quicker," she said. "My biggest goal right now is to make it on the national team, so I really want to work hard in college to make it to that point."
And Edwards has the ability and will to do it, Pippy said.
"Chayla has that potential to continue to get stronger, and she'll play in a program where she'll be practicing with some of the best players in the country," Pippy said. "That will give her a tremendous opportunity. I think she'll really excel in Wisconsin."