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The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College's student newspaper

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College's student newspaper

The Berkeley Beacon

Women’s volleyball wins 7th annual “You Can Play” Game

Photo: Courtesy of Ben Read
The Emerson women’s volleyball team after their 3-0 win over UMass-Dartmouth.

The Emerson women’s volleyball team beat UMass Dartmouth in a colorful three sets on Saturday, Sept. 23, in their annual “You Can Play” game. LGBTQ+ positive signage around the Bobbi Brown and Steven Plofker Gym welcomed athletes and fans alike to support the Lions. 

The “You Can Play” Event is made possible through the You Can Play Project, which focuses on the safety and inclusion of LGBTQ+ athletes in sports. This is the seventh consecutive year the women’s volleyball team has hosted a “You Can Play” game. 

Head Coach Ben Read showed his support by wearing a rainbow shirt during the game. In an interview after the game, Read explained why this event is important to recognize, even at a publicly inclusive school like Emerson.

“[We] openly and outwardly express that we are an inclusive environment,” he said. “We want you to be you, we want you to be able to be you, and I think that can allow people to be themselves more.” 

The “You Can Play” game is one of the many efforts Emerson has made to show acceptance and support of LGBTQ+ students. Sports can create stressful or dangerous situations for LGBTQ+ athletes, even if the athlete perceives stigma that is not present on that particular team. The added support the game brings can make the difference in the team’s energy and game performance.

“Oftentimes we see people really have great games and come out of their shells ‘cause this is a game for them,” Read added. 

This game was no exception. The Lions matched the energy and support around the event with their on-court play. They dominated the first set and quickly obtained the lead with a 6-1 run to start the match. Kills by Parker Cummings and Brooke Maynez helped maintain the Lion’s solid lead, winning the first set 25-11.

The second set was more competitive, with UMass Dartmouth holding the lead for a few minutes. After an Emerson timeout, the Lions came out strong and won the next three points. From there, Emerson fought to win the set 25-22.

The Lions comfortably finished the game in the third set, ending on a 9-1 run to win 25-8. 

Isabella Cubba and Caroline Davis—the team’s two seniors—have played multiple “You Can Play” games in their time as Lions. They both stressed the significance of this recurring event and why it still remains important in its seventh year.

“Everyone comes together and focuses on the fact that you can play and you are accepted here,” Cubba said. 

“I think it’s big because there are so many people that get told they can’t play because of their sexuality or gender identity,” Davis added. “It is really big to know that you can play and it doesn’t matter who you are, you are welcome here.” 

While this event puts the focus on LGBTQ+ support in college sports, “You Can Play” also recognizes that LGBTQ+ sports fans may not feel safe and uses its events to show support for the spectators. 

Saturday’s “You Can Play” win against UMass Dartmouth propels the Lions into the latter half of their season. Their next home game is against Springfield College Saturday, Sept. 30, at 12 p.m. in the Bobbi Brown and Steven Plofker Gym. 

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Merritt Hughes, Staff Writer

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