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UWS student athletes get behind equality program

By Brad Phenow

Wisconsin Public Radio


More than 150 student-athletes, coaches and community members at the University of Wisconsin-Superior have formed a group to become allies with gay student athletes. The “You Can Play” program is the first in the UW System.

“You Can Play” is a national campaign dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation. UWS is the first college in Wisconsin to support the campaign, complete with a three-minute video featuring UWS coaches and athletes.

“You Can Play” began in 2012 and has gained support from athletes at all levels across the country. Student-athletes who pledged to support the project attended a three-hour training session on how to make their locker room a safe zone for all athletes despite their sexual orientation.

Terry McGlasson is an assistant professor of guidance and counseling at UWS. He is a gay man who took 37 years to come out of the closet. He says when he was first asked to be a part of the campaign, he was optimistic about support from student-athletes.

“I was thinking in my head if we get 10 or 15 athletes to participate in this, it’s going to be an awesome thing,” McGlasson said.

After pitching the idea to coaches and athletes, more than 70 UWS students signed up. Athletic Director Steve Nelson says he has never been so proud.

“In all my years associated with college athletics, 25 years, I don’t think I have ever seen a group of student-athletes become more engaged in taking ownership of a cause in the way that our group right here has in the “You Can Play” project,” he said.

Nelson says this is an invitation to take part in the project.

“Like the program says, if you can play, you can play,” he said. “And we welcome everyone to be a part of what we are doing at UW-Superior.”

Nelson says this is fighting for equality.

“‘You Can Play’ is focused on sexual orientation, but really, this issue goes beyond sexual orientation,” he said. “This is a fundamental human rights issue, and that is our agenda.”

You can see the video at

Brad Phenow is one of the student athletes who pledged to support “You Can Play.”