The OSU student section cheers during the Feb. 1 men's hockey game against Notre Dame. OSU won, 6-3.
The Ohio State men’s hockey team hosted what will be known as its first ever pride night, which some considered a win for the Buckeyes both on and off the ice.
Pride night was hosted during Friday’s game against the then No. 11-ranked Notre Dame. OSU won 6-3 at the Schottenstein Center.
The OSU athletic department partnered with the You Can Play Project, an organization dedicated to ensuring equality for athletes regardless of sexual orientation, and co-created a video featuring OSU hockey alumni Ryan Kesler and R.J. Umberger.
Kesler plays for the Vancouver Canucks and Umberger plays for the Columbus Blue Jackets in the NHL.
The “You Can Play” video aired Friday during both of the game’s intermissions, with the video’s message invoking cheers from an official crowd of 5,779, according to Notre Dame’s official athletics website.
“We want to bring attention and awareness regardless of what you believe in or what your preferences are, if you can play, you can play,” said athletic director Gene Smith in an interview with The Lantern.
Gay Hockey Ohio, a gay hockey organization devoted to providing a positive environment for LGBT hockey players, contacted the department in hopes of partnering for an event with the OSU men’s hockey team. Chris Schneider, the associate athletics director of sports administration, and the rest of the athletic department collaborated on ways to make the partnership with Gay Hockey Ohio a larger theme for the university.
“It was great to see the passion and energy that they (the video services staff) put in to making that video. They took it to heart,” Schneider said. “We are one of the largest, most diverse universities and this is an opportunity for us in athletics to show our support for that initiative.”
The department plans to produce another “You Can Play” video that encompasses more student athletes and coaches and will not just be hockey specific.
“The message is to eliminate homophobia in sports and to promote the diverse and inclusive feel around athletics,” Schneider said. “We want to be able to use our venue to share that message to all of the campus community and the Columbus community.”
Nicole Sarmiento, a third-year in biology and a member of the Sportsmanship Council, said the video had “a really good message.”
“We believe that diversity is so important in our society and athletics is no different,” Smith said. “It is the one true thing we all have in common, so we should celebrate it.”