COLCHESTER, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College men's ice hockey team will be walking in the Vermont Pride Parade and Festival on Sunday in Burlington for the second year in a row. One of the Purple Knights' goals in participating in the Pride Parade is to continue supporting the mission of the You Can Play Project, which works to ensure the safety and inclusion of LGBTQ athletes, coaches and fans in sports.
The walk begins at 12 p.m. at the south end of Church Street and ends at Battery Park, where the festival is held. The men's ice hockey team and the Saint Michael's Martin Luther King Jr. Society will walk together in hopes of encouraging more of the student body to get involved in the future. Pride Vermont, which organizes the festival, aims to celebrate and support Vermont's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community of all ages, to educate and to act as a bridge to create alliances with each other and with the greater community as a whole. To learn more and see how you can get involved, check out pridecentervt.org/pride-home.
Sophomore William Santangeli (Oakville, Ontario/Saint Mark's School) has been the driving force behind the involvement of the men's ice hockey team participating in this event this year. "Our team first got involved with the Pride Parade last year through our head coach, Damian DiGiulian," he said. "Coach DiGiulian didn't force anyone to come out but did emphasize the importance of supporting the LGBTQ community in the Burlington area as well as on campus. We had an awesome turnout from our guys last year, and the parade was a lot of fun." Santangeli, who said his team will be wearing T-shirts that say "SK8 DON'T H8", encourages campus community members who are interested in joining them this year to contact him at email@example.com.
"Will has done a great job gathering a group of players to march in the Pride Parade this year," DiGiulian said. "We as a program support the mission of the You Can Play Project, which states, 'You Can Play is 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 areas by focusing only on the athletes' skills, work ethic and competitive spirit.' Our players march for that statement. As their coach, I could not be more proud of them."
"Through Justin McKenzie '17 and Coach DiGiulian's leadership, our team adopted the You Can Play motto in our locker room last year: 'If you can play, you can play,'" Santangeli said. "Over the course of last year's season, the You Can Play Project became something very important to me. As a first-year student, I started to become more and more aware that Saint Mike's is home to a very diverse student body, including student-athletes. This is why our team sported pride tape last year on our sticks and chose to walk in the Burlington Pride Parade. We hope to continue You Can Play's mission and be leaders on campus in ensuring safety, equality, and respect for all student-athletes/fans regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. I am humbled to be given the opportunity by Coach DiGiulian to help organize our team's involvement in the parade this year, and hope to continue this as a tradition with my teammates for the next three years."