With school back in session, fall sports in full swing, and winter leagues starting up their seasons, we wanted to take a moment and share a few You Can Play updates from our year-to-date. The past year has been nothing short of incredible. We are grateful for your support, and enthusiasm in furthering our cause, and our work to support LGBT athletes, coaches, and fans.
Last month, we were thrilled to announce that the New York Giants became the first National Football League (NFL) team to debut a You Can Play video with the vocal support of current Giants players, the team’s President, Chairman, alumni, and staff. The Giants Foundation has also provided a grant to support You Can Play and will host a special event for You Can Play during a home game in December.
Throughout the year, we continue to host various trainings, panels, and presentations, highlights of which include: an inclusion panel at the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Convention at the NCAA Men’s Final Four; the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC)’s international roundtable; a panel on diversity in sports for the sports and entertainment marketing company Octagon; and trainings for the Major League Soccer (MLS) front office staff. In August, Executive Director Wade Davis delivered a powerful speech on LGBT inclusion at the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) All-School Summit.
July was also an incredible month for You Can Play. Our organization was honored by ESPN at the Sports Humanitarian of the Year Awards, with Patrick Burke accepting ESPN’s first Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award on behalf of You Can Play. In July, we also announced that You Can Play was the recipient of both the National Education Association (NEA) Award for Creative Leadership in Human Rights and the Colorado Education Association (CEA) Coloradan Award for 2015.
In the spring, we officially announced a new partnership with The Sporting News. We also outlined the expansion of our partnership with the Canadian Football League (CFL) to include an ambassador-training program and a community High-Five event for each team. The High-Five program aims to foster LGBT acceptance by connecting professional athletes with local youth. Four of the nine CFL teams received this training and the other five teams will participate in the program next year.
To support the expansion of our partnership and programs, You Can Play brought on two new staff members, Anna Aagenes and Jillian Svensson this past March. Aagenes serves as the Vice President of Program Development and Community Relations, and Svensson as the Vice President of Operations and Development.
Thanks to you, we are at a record setting pace for new You Can Play videos. This year, You Can Play has already received more than double the submissions of 2014. A few weeks ago, the Centennial Conference joined the America East Conference (AEC), Big Sky Conference, and North Atlantic Conference (NAC), as collegiate conferences to have member institutions make videos in support of the You Can Play Project. You can find the latest You Can Play videos featured on our website, as well as, Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Although the year is drawing to a close, there is still plenty of time to get involved with You Can Play. You can volunteer, donate, and contact us for opportunities to get involved and spread the word. As an official charity partner of #GivingTuesday, look out for our social media posts about how your contributions can improve the lives of LGBT athletes, coaches, and fans.
Thank you for continuing to support You Can Play and our work. Stay tuned in the upcoming weeks for more updates, announcements, and breaking news from You Can Play!
-The You Can Play Team