On January 25 UBC Thunderbirds volleyball will host their third annual Pride Night. The game hopes to show off the inclusive community in sports and the campus at large.
The night started two years ago as a partnership between UBC volleyball and the Vancouver Gay Volleyball Association. The night was spearheaded by former coach Kerry MacDonald.
“It's an opportunity to celebrate the inclusive environment here at UBC. And we're just fortunate that volleyball gets to be the channel that we do so,” said Michael Hawkins, head coach of the men’s volleyball team.
UBC Volleyball is excited to get to host the event again.
“[Last year] our guys absolutely loved it … I think they enjoyed promoting the event just like an opportunity to express positivity and love,” said Hawkins.
“Once the game started, it's such a fun environment to play in. It's just like a really raucous crowd. Our guys wore some rainbow headbands, there were rainbow flags all over the gym.”
Not only does the excitement make the game a good place to be, it also helps the players.
“It's very stop-start sport ... So it's difficult as an athlete just to continue that high level of energy. So having a good crowd behind you is amazing,” said Hawkins.
While there are many die-hard volleyball fans, Pride Night draws out more than just the regular crowd.
“I found last year that there's typically always the usual crowd: friends, family, alumni and volleyball fans. Last year there were a lot of people there that I hadn't seen before,” said Hawkins.“I think people, especially in this city and in this university, I think people enjoy those opportunities [to celebrate pride].”
As well as being a place to showcase the inclusive environment at UBC, the night can also open conversations for 2SLGBTQIA+ people in sport.
“I think it's naive to think that there aren't LGBT people in sport. And I think there have been enough professional athletes recently who have come out ... [who can] show that sport be a safe environment for you to come out, for you to be comfortable with yourself,” said Hawkins.
“So I think as the world continues to get a little bit more progressive, I think people understand that sport can be a safe environment.”
At the game the men's squad will show off their skills as they take on rivals Trinity Western University Spartans, who are on a 14-game winning streak and are ranked 1st in Canada West and U Sports.
The women's team will also take on the Spartans, who boast a 20–3 overall record and a 16–3 Canada West record. So whether you're coming for the sports or for the positive environment it should be a fun, fast-paced and action-packed game.