Rose PowersManager - Sport a Rainbow
Rose's Story :
I’m lucky, I have a good story, my parents were supportive when I came out to them as gay at the age of sixteen. They didn’t kick me out, they didn’t tell me I was no longer allowed to be apart of the family or tell me I was not accepted for who I was. It was so scary and hard to tell them, but the words just came out. I hadn’t labelled myself but when I think back, all the evidence was there: I just didn’t feel like I belonged. The only place I felt like “me” was when I was participating in sports.
Sports for me were a natural joy. I loved them all: baseball, hockey, lacrosse, ball hockey and rugby. Sports were my get away from the everyday stress of school and home. I can’t imagine my life without them. As a young adult I began giving back to the sport I loved, hockey. In my second year of coaching I was given the honour of being the Head Coach of an all female non-parent bench. It would be the Ice Kats (PGHA) very first “AA” sanctioned team. We were the host team for the Ontario Winter Games right here in Peterborough. When it was announced that I had been selected as the coach for this team a number of the players and their parents “outed” me to the others that would be trying out as well. They did not feel that I should coach because I was gay. Thankfully, our coaching staff had the support of the majority of the players, parents and executive members. It was an uncomfortable start but a great year.
For 26 years I have been advocating for youth with in my profession. These young people have had many struggles but one main theme has always been the need for belonging and the need for acceptance. I am so proud to be an advocate for those that need one. I want to be a person that makes a difference for others. I want to help when help is needed. There is no hidden agenda, its because I care, because I want the world to be a better place and I strongly believe that when people know better they do better.
That is why I have chosen to make my connection with coaches and support staff personal. I will demonstrate in my presentation why Inclusion for all is important and how to use the Sport A Rainbow Pledge to open a conversation about our differences. After my presentation my hope is that when athletes, coaches, trainers and support staff take the Sport A Rainbow Pledge, that they along with me will speak up when they hear hateful words being used. I believe that we want our athletes to be leaders in their communities. Speaking up can start in our sporting environment and then hopefully this will transfer into changes in our schools and work places.
Inclusion for all means just that, inclusion for all people no matter race, abilities, identified gender, sexual orientation or social class. I will agree that we have grown and we have learned to be more accepting of our differences however we have a long way to go. Since starting the Sport A Rainbow initiative I have been reassured by the personal stories that I hear that not only changing our language but our actions too is very much needed.
I have a beautiful niece who is 5 years old. She is amazing, makes us laugh and smile just being around her. Oh and yes she is stubborn and cranky sometimes but she knows exactly what she wants!! She’s just learning to skate and I hope someday, against her moms wishes, she will play for the Ice Kats. Sophie has an amazing gift. She can make peoples day with her smile or a wave hello. We know this because strangers have been open about how she has positively affected them. Why am I telling you this? Because up until now you would think Sophie is a regular 5-year-old child, which she is, but she also has Down Syndrome. Unfortunately, Sophie has also had to deal with being teased at her school. She is in Sr. kindergarten. It breaks all of our hearts.
Sport A Rainbow is about change, about inclusion and diversity, about being kind to one another and accepting that we are not all the same and that’s ok. The sporting atmosphere should be a safe space. A space that is free of hateful language and judgement in and out of the game.
Because it is about more than just the game.