Students sit in the ballroom listening to panelists
CMU students listen as members of the You Can Play panel discuss ways for campuses to be more inclusive for LGBT student-athletes.


Ensuring a more inclusive environment for LGBT athletes at CMU

"How many of you have ever told a lie?"

The crowd of approximately 850 student-athletes, coaches and administrators gathered in CMU's Meyer Ballroom sheepishly raised their hands.

"And how long did your lie last?"

As the crowd contemplated, Glenn Witman — a former collegiate hockey player and co-founder of the You Can Play Project — confessed, "My lie lasted 28 years."

Witman's admission kicked off an hour-long panel discussion to promote inclusion in athletics on Saturday, August 28. For Witman, the fear of the reaction from his teammates, colleagues and family had paralyzed him from being honest about his sexual orientation.

In 2012, Witman co-founded the You Can Play Project with the intent of "helping our little brothers and sisters," and ensuring today's athletes — youth, prep, collegiate and professional — can live an authentic life and thrive in their sport regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Witman moderated a panel discussion and Q&A between CMU's club and varsity athletic teams and an impressive panel of openly gay athletes:

  • Andrew Goldstein, the first openly gay male athlete to play a professional sport. A goaltender for the Long Island Lizards of Major League Lacrosse, Goldstein has been an ESPN lacrosse analyst and is a former two-time All-American from Dartmouth.
  • Angela Hucles, president of the Women's Sports Foundation, two-time Olympic gold medalist (Athens, 2004, Beijing, 2008) and professional soccer player for the Women's United Soccer Association.
  • Jaron Thomas, a track star at the University of Colorado and one of the first openly gay male athletes on CU's campus and one of only a handful in the nation.
  • Sam Knollmeyer, a freshman lacrosse player at Hamilton College

Following the panel discussion, coaches and team members broke into groups across campus to speak frankly about ensuring a more inclusive environment for LGBT athletes at CMU.

Among those coaches was assistant baseball coach Sean McKinney, who joined a number of campus leaders to help bring the You Can Play project to CMU. In March McKinney issued a public apology for comments he made in 2014, making the program all the more meaningful for both him and the campus.

"This has been an incredible journey and time of growth in my life. I am a better coach and a better person now than I was six months ago," said McKinney.

"Our campus is having tough conversations and we're becoming a leader in inclusion of all people," he added. "I've always tried to make sure every player on my team felt included and welcome, and this learning experience has only made me more passionate and committed to that goal."

"I had the privilege of spending a lot of time with the You Can Play organization and it was a great experience. They are fantastic people and I enjoyed getting to know them. I'm excited about the opportunity to educate and make an impact on our university, our community and beyond," McKinney added.

Following the panel discussion, CMU unveiled a video as part of the You Can Play project.

A recording of the panel discussion is available on the university's YouTube channel and available below.

Media Contact

Dana Nunn, Director of Media Relations

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