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UW-Superior to launch “You Can Play” video Thursday

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The University of Wisconsin-Superior athletic department will be hosting a luncheon on Thursday to celebrate the completion of its video in support of the You Can Play project. You Can Play is a national campaign dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation.

The event will take place beginning at 11:45 a.m. in the Great Room of the Yellowjacket Union. There is no cost to attend the event and a light lunch will be served. The public is invited to attend.

Established in 2012, You Can Play works to guarantee that athletes are given a fair opportunity to compete, judged by other athletes and fans alike, only by what they contribute to the sport or their team’s success. You Can Play seeks to challenge the culture of locker rooms and spectator areas by focusing only on an athlete’s skills, work ethic and competitive spirit.

“We are very excited to be on the leading edge of this human rights project and look forward to helping bring awareness to this incredibly important cause,” UWS athletics director Steve Nelson said. “At UW-Superior it is so very important that student-athletes not just have the opportunity to compete in the sports that they love, but that they can do so without the fear of being discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.”

Thursday’s event at UWS will feature a taped message from Derek Schell, the first openly gay NCAA Division II basketball player from Hillsdale College. The keynote speaker for the day will be Scott Cooper, a 2013 graduate of Augsburg College who played two seasons as an openly gay member of the Auggie football team.

The luncheon will close with the public unveiling of the UW-Superior You Can Play video. The video, which is the culmination of a year’s worth of work, will feature nearly 70 Yellowjacket student-athletes and coaches that have declared their commitment to making locker rooms and fields/courts of competition safe places for LGBT athletes. With the release of the video, UWS will join professional, college and high school sports teams across the nation who have also pledged to make their sports teams inclusive.

Participants in the Yellowjacket Athletics You Can Play video project have also undergone Safe Zone/Ally training to equip themselves with the necessary skills to assist LGBT student-athletes who might seek support from their coaches or teammates.

UWS will be the first university in Wisconsin to participate in the You Can Play program.

“It makes me very proud that we are the first school in the state to become a part of the You Can Play campaign,” Nelson said. “In athletics we like to think of ourselves as leaders. With the way our student-athletes approach their sports and their studies, we believe that we can be role models for other students on our campus in regard to setting goals and achieving them. We feel the same way about You Can Play. As a leader in being a part of the campaign, we hope that other schools in Wisconsin and beyond will follow us and became active in You Can Play.”

More information on You Can Play can be found online at www.youcanplayproject.org. 

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