GUELPH, Ont. (January 29, 2013) - The women of the Ontario Intercollegiate Women's Fastpitch Association, joined by coaches and announcer Rick Mercer, become the first in their sport to support LGBT athletes through the You Can Play Project.
Representing the 12 intercollegiate teams in the association with a message of inclusion is important to the players and coaches. Wilfird Laurier University's MATT ALLEN, an assistant coach and the OIWFA president, says the video was made because, "as a whole, we want to educate the public on women's sport - in particular softball - that sexuality does not impact your throw, your pitch, your bunting or hitting abilities." Allen references Canadian Olympic champion Mark Tewksbury's comments about issues facing women in sports: the stigma of women's sport is that women don't come out because it perpetuates the stereotype that all female athletes are gay. "What you do as an athlete in your own life and who you are attracted to has no bearing on your skillset as a softball player," Allen said.
"As coaches at the university level, we have such an amazing experience to see our athletes develop through their formative adult years," Allen continues. "It's amazing for us as coaches to see a timid, shy, and apprehensive first year student come into our system who appears to have a lack of confidence, then decide to come out during university and is a completely new person...she shows such an improvement with onfield performance as a result of discovering who they are as a person."
Two members of the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks fastpitch team, Brook McAlister and Alicia Helmond, are featured prominently throughout the video.
- courtesy of the Ontario Intercollegiate Women's Fastpitch Association