Thompson Rivers University is the latest institution to become a “You Can Play” school.
The WolfPack announced their affiliation with the program, in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer/questioning and two spirit (LGBTQ2S+) community at this morning’s annual Scholarship breakfast held at the Campus Activity Centre. You Can Play works to ensure the safety and inclusion of all sports including LGBTQ2S+ athletes, coaches and fans.
The initiative was started in the United States in 2012.
To commemorate the announcement, organizers released a You Can Play video featuring members of TRU’s Athletic Department-athletes, coaches and officials.
TRU’s Athletics and Recreation director Curtis Atkinson made this initiative a priority since he took the reins of the department at the start of the year.
“I first heard about You Can Play a few years ago when the NHL partnered with the You Can Play project. I really admired the work being done to promote diversity, equality and inclusion. A lot of teams and individuals got behind it and it made an impact. I believe we can offer our support to build on that impact.”
“We had this on our radar earlier this year when Chris Mosier came to town to deliver a series of workshops,” Atkinson added.
Mosier became the first transgender athlete to compete at a World Championships (Triathlon). His appearance prompted the International Olympic Committee to change its rules about trans athletes being able to compete at their games. He was brought into Kamloops by School District # 73 in February. Until recently, Mosier was a vice president with “You Can Play.”
“It was conversations with Chris when he was here that helped give us some momentum to become a You Can Play school. We wanted to launch the program this fall, and it meshes well with our institutional values related to diversity, equality and inclusion. We are really proud to use our platform to promote those values – it just made sense.”
The video, which featured athletes, coaches and Atkinson himself, is a cornerstone of the “You Can Play” initiative. Professional teams, leagues, athletes and other universities (both in Canada and the U.S) have created similar videos and posted them on social media and other platforms in support of the LGBTQ2S+ community.
“The timing worked well for us when you look at what’s transpired locally over the last month,” Atkinson stated. “The WolfPack had a strong presence at the 2nd annual Downtown Kamloops Pride parade. Then, with Pride activities being held this month on campus, we thought the timing worked well to continue on with this message.”
The You Can Play initiative furthers collaborative efforts at TRU to promote a safe, inclusive community. At one time, The Thompson Rivers University Students’ Union (TRUSU) organized the only Pride Parade in Kamloops, and in 2013, worked with TRU to paint a rainbow crosswalk at the university’s busiest intersection to demonstrate TRU’s support of diversity.
The WolfPack will host a “You Can Play/Pride game” every year, the first being Saturday’s women’s soccer match at Hillside Stadium between Thompson Rivers and the Trinity Western University Spartans (Sept 29).
Kamloops Pride and other local groups will be out in support of You Can Play with information booths at Saturday’s game. Additionally, the women’s soccer team and event staff will be wearing WolfPack shirts in rainbow colors in the warm up and during the match and there will be a brief ceremony at half time.
Atkinson says this yearly event will grow to include events tied to volleyball matches and basketball games in the future.
“It is important to me and our institution that any athlete, coach, official – anyone who comes to participate in sports at TRU – knows they can do it in a safe place and be comfortable being who they are. Hopefully, we will find other community partners to help us make it bigger and better every year.”
Kick off on Saturday will be 1 pm.