Bates Athletics’ ‘You Can Play’ video supports LGBT inclusion, Maine — The Bates College Department of Athletics is delighted to launch a video campaign supporting inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) athletes in all facets of Bates’ 31 intercollegiate varsity athletics programs.

The video includes 19 current Bates student-athletes and President Clayton Spencer, and can be seen at both and on Bates’ athletics website. (Of the ever-expanding number of colleges creating You Can Play videos, Bates is the first to feature its president.)

“The You Can Play program represents the extension to Athletics of our core commitment to inclusion,” said President Spencer, “helping to ensure that fans and teammates alike judge our student-athletes and coaches on the effort and commitment they bring to their sport — rather than on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.”

Patrick Burke, the founder of You Can Play, expressed a particular enthusiasm about the campaign, having a personal connection to Bates: his sister Katie is a Bates graduate and former Bobcat volleyball player.

“Bates College is a tremendous school with a proud athletic tradition, and we are thrilled to have Bates join the You Can Play Project’s campaign to end homophobia in sports,” said Burke, a scout for the Philadelphia Flyers. “From the president to the athletic department, to the coaches, to the players — the entire institution is taking a stance in favor of inclusion, equality, and opportunity. I hope and believe that this will be an inspiration to the LGBT athletes and their allies currently on campus, and those who will attend in the future. We are proud that LGBT athletes have another safe place to participate in athletics.”

The video demonstrates another example of Bates’ long institutional history of inclusion and social justice. In May 2012, Bates was one of 10 colleges to be included on Campus Pride’s first ever “Out to Play List,” for its qualities of inclusion and friendliness in relation to LGBT students. Athletics has sponsored numerous “Athlete Ally” events in conjunction with the Bates Pride Festival. Bates’ most decorated student-athlete ever, Keelin Godsey ’06, came out as transgender prior to his senior year at Bates — Godsey was subsequently featured in Sports Illustrated’s May 28, 2012, issue in a special report, “The Transgender Athlete.”

As Bates Athletic Director Kevin McHugh said, “The Department of Athletics has worked hard and intentionally to help lead the Bates community in respecting and welcoming everyone, regardless of their perceived or actual sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.”

Individuals appearing in the video include (in order): Ryan Weston (football, men’s basketball), Jacqui Holmes (women’s tennis), Cheri-Ann Parris (women’s squash), Chloe Mitchell (women’s squash), Tara Dugan (women’s swimming & diving), Travis Jones (women’s swimming & diving), Patrick George (football), Tess Walther (women’s volleyball), Nicole Russell (women’s volleyball), David Pless (men’s track & field), Gretchen Sellegren (women’s Nordic skiing), President Spencer, Evan Chen (men’s lacrosse), Nessrine Ariffin (women’s squash), Ahmed Abdel Khalek (men’s squash), Myriam Kelly (women’s squash), Caran Arora (men’s squash), Filip Michalsky (men’s squash), Ryan Sonberg (baseball) and Torben Noto (men’s lacrosse); Catherine Tuttle (women’s Nordic skiing) also participated. The video was shot and produced by Phyllis Graber Jensen and Michael Bradley of the Bates Communications Office. Organizational assistance was provided by head men’s lacrosse coach Peter Lasagna and sports information director Andy Walter.

You Can Play is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity. 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.

View Comments