August 2, 2016 — The National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) today announced a partnership with You Can Play beginning in the 2016-17 season.
“The league and our players have supported You Can Play since we launched last year and we’re honored to make a formal announcement today,” said NWHL Commissioner Dani Rylan. “The NWHL is committed to promoting LGBT equality and the respect of all of our athletes, fans, coaches, and staff. Alongside the NHL, AHL, and CWHL, the hockey community can proudly say we are the most inclusive professional sport in the world.”
You Can Play is an organization dedicated to ensuring equality, respect, and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation and/or gender identity. You Can Play seeks to challenge the culture of locker rooms and spectator arenas by focusing only on an athlete’s skills, work ethic, and competitive spirit.
“Our partnership with the NWHL is extremely significant and sends a powerful message to athletes, young women in particular, that hockey is a place of respect and inclusion. The NWHL has already broken barriers to promote women’s equality in sports and will continue to do so as the first US women’s professional sports league to partner with You Can Play. No matter who you are or who you love, the NWHL welcomes you,” stated Anna Aagenes, Vice President of Program Development & Community Relations for You Can Play.
As part of the league’s partnership with You Can Play, the Founding Four NWHL teams will each host a You Can Play Night during a home game where they will debut their team’s You Can Play Video. The NWHL and each NWHL team will actively show support on social media for You Can Play and their mission of ensuring respect and inclusion for everyone, including LGBT athletes, coaches, and fans.
Each team has also designated a You Can Play Ambassador to lead LGBT inclusion efforts throughout the season. Emily Pfalzer will represent the Beauts, Molly Engstrom will represent the Whale, Brittany Ott will represent the Pride, and Madison Packer will represent the Riveters.
“We want fans to know that the NWHL and its teams are committed to showing their public support for the LGBT community. We also want fans to know that the league is being intentional and proactive in educating its players, coaches, and staff on LGBT diversity and inclusion,” explained Jillian Svensson, Vice President of Development & Operations for You Can Play.
Dates and times for You Can Play Nights will be announced as the season approaches. More informaiton will be available at https://nwhl.zone/.
About the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL)
The NWHL is the first professional women’s hockey league in North America to pay its players. The inaugural season began October 11, 2015 with the Founding Four: Boston Pride, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale, and New York Riveters. The Boston Pride became the first team in NWHL history to raise the Isobel Cup on March 12, 2016.
About You Can Play
In 2012, You Can Play was launched by Patrick Burke of the NHL along with Brian Kitts, a sports marketing and entertainment executive, and Glenn Witman of GForce Sports. Brendan Burke, the brother of Patrick Burke and son of Brian Burke, a longtime NHL executive, made international headlines when he came out as gay in 2009. A few months after he came out, Brendan died in a car accident. Founded in Brendan Burke’s honor, You Can Play’s ongoing mission is to promote respect and LGBT inclusion in sports.