You Can Play Project
OXFORD, Ohio – Miami University hockey will host the You Can Play Series for its opening matchups against Providence on Oct. 6-7. The weekend aims to support the You Can Play Project’s mission to advocate for LGBTQ rights in sports. Their motto, “If you can play, you can play,” encourages people to judge athletes only by their talent, character, and work ethic.
The organization was founded following the death of Brendan Burke, a Miami student who served as a manager for the hockey team. Burke, who came out as openly gay during his time as a RedHawk, was met with nothing but acceptance and support from the rest of the team. During the 2009-10 season, though, Burke passed away in a tragic automobile accident. His death shook the team, but it also motivated them to share his story of bravery and strength.
To honor both Burke and the You Can Play Project, the RedHawks are wearing special jerseys for this weekend’s series against the Friars. The jerseys feature patches with the You Can Play Project and Brendan Burke logos on the shoulders with the stripes representing the rainbow flag.
Enrico Blasi, now in his 19th season as Miami’s head coach, remembers Burke’s smile, friendliness, and passion for hockey.
“He was a genuine, authentic person who just loved being a part of the team,” Blasi said. “He loved life and loved people.”
With the support of Miami Hockey, as well as countless other teams ranging from youth leagues to the NHL, the You Can Play Project has grown tremendously since its creation. They now have an audience of over 33,000 on Twitter and 12,000 on Facebook. Online, they spread awareness of things such as LGBTQ History Month, which takes place every October.
The bulk of their work, however, takes place offline. They partner with teams and leagues from all over in an effort to promote inclusion of people of the LGBTQ community. After Miami joined in support, the You Can Play Project secured a partnership from the NHL as well as the NHLPA. Other notable partners include Major League Soccer, the Canadian Olympic Committee, the Canadian Football League, and The Sporting News.
They also host speakers and travel to conferences to set up panels. They will hold a workshop at the Out & Equal Workplace Summit on Oct. 10.
Blasi feels honored to host the You Can Play Series, saying “In some ways, I feel like it’s home for the Project. We are honored to remember Brendan’s legacy and the You Can Play Project.”
Puck drop for the You Can Play Series and 2017-18 season is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. on Friday. Saturday’s game will be at 8 p.m.