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Lancers to spread the word on inclusion

By: Lauren Breadner

If you can shoot, you can shoot. If you can spike, you can spike. If you can score, you can score. If you can play, you can play.

On December 3, University of Windsor student-athletes participated in an information session to discuss events and programs for their You Can Play initiative.

What is You Can Play? You Can Play is an organization with a mission to ensure equality, respect and safety for athletes with regards to gender identity and sexual orientation.

You Can Play partners with a number of different leagues and organizations including the National Hockey League, the Canadian Olympic Committee and the Canadian Football League.

The Lancer student-athletes are implementing a student-run You Can Play project this year. Blake Blondeel, president of the Lancer Student-Athlete Committee (LSAC) and co-lead of the You Can Play initiative, says he’s excited that this initiative is starting to come together.

“I personally believe that everyone should feel included in their sport and that will bring out the best athlete in you,” Blondeel stated at the meeting. “Sport has the power to change society and I think that this initiative is helping to build a platform of safety and comfort for athletes at the University of Windsor.”

Present at the information session was a community member, Nancy Campana, to show her support for the Lancers’ You Can Play project. This inclusivity project is very important to Campana.  Her son, Rocky, passed away in 2012 after an attempt to take his own life.

“Rocky was an advocate for the acceptance of LGBTQ+ diversity in our community,” Campana reflected. “We can never be quiet about these issues and it is important for people to know what is acceptable to say and what is not.”

The Campana family started the Run for Rocky Legacy project that ensures Rocky’s legacy continues in the form of supporting local Gay Straight Alliances in Windsor-Essex County. The five-year project has included grants, scholarships, and funds to support students and educators to go to conferences and gain educational resources.

“Sports have always had a level of homophobia,” Campana explains. “The research shows that LGBTQ+ individuals usually play individual sports because of the homophobia faced in the locker room. My family and I know the next step to tackling these issues is to educate in sports environments which is why this initiative is so important.”

Approximately 40 varsity student-athletes were in attendance at the You Can Play information session. The session included brainstorming on how to implement inclusivity in Lancer Athletics and more generally around the University of Windsor campus. Some ideas included You Can Play themed home games, rainbow warm-up jerseys and socks for the student-athletes, and inviting Gay Straight Alliance community groups to attend the You Can Play games to provide educational resources to those in attendance.

Athletic Director, Mike Havey, was present during the meeting and encourages the Lancer student-athletes in their journey to create a safe space for varsity athletes.

“Irrespective of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc. the only thing that should matter to your team is if ‘You Can Play,’” Havey said. “By having student-athletes participate in leading this initiative we hope to embed this ethos in our culture.”

Building this safe environment guarantees student-athletes are given a fair opportunity to compete and are judged solely on what they contribute to the team’s successes. To protect, uphold, stand up for equity, the University of Windsor student-athletes will provide a leading voice where everyone contributes, everyone is valued, and everyone matters.


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