Thru the Athlete Lens: Asking 2SLGBTQIA+ Athletes
It is time to give our 2SLGBTQIA+ athletes a voice and to share their perspectives and experiences on how coaches and teammates can better support their 2SLGBTQIA+ athletes. We have invited a diverse group of athletes who will be sharing their own stories and answering any of your questions about their experiences in sport. Our reverse panel is an opportunity for coaches and athletes to learn from our speakers, ask questions, share experiences and find community. Our reverse panel is a safe space to learn, ask questions and seek advice from athletes in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community to assist us on our journey to becoming better coaches and teammates.
Date: Monday, June 27th, 2022
I have been involved in sports since a very young age. it was probably from the moment I could walk. I grew up playing baseball, volleyball, rugby, and badminton, but most importantly, playing basketball, and all the way up to and at the post-secondary level. It wasn’t until my first year of University (at Laurentian) and meeting my current partner, that I realized I was bisexual and identified as part of the LGBTQ+ community.
As for a bit of basketball context, before coming to Brock, I played four years of varsity women’s basketball at Laurentian University, while pursuing a degree in a Bachelor of Physical and Health Education (BPHE). While playing basketball in 2017 I was the recipient of the Pride and Tradition award and in 2019 I was the Most Valuable Player for my team. In 2019, I was also awarded the OUA Tracy MacLeod Award, which recognizes an individual for perseverance, determination, and unwavering spirit. In the fall of 2019, I
entered the two-year teacher’s education program at Brock. Sadly, I was injured so I did not get the opportunity to play but was still a part of the team. Then in the second year of the program, everything was canceled because of COVID. I returned this year to complete a Master of Education and play my final year of eligibility with the Brock Badgers women’s basketball team. Although the season didn’t end the way I had hoped, our team still won a silver medal at the OUA level and our team placed fourth in all of Canada at the USports Nationals. On top of these accomplishments, I was an OUA second-team all-star.
As a 2SLGBTQ+ athlete, I have been very fortunate since I have never truly been discriminated against. As a matter of fact, while playing basketball at Laurentian, I was dating my current partner, who was also on the team for all four years. Although it wasn’t hard, it wasn’t easy either. We were always concerned about what other people would think and didn’t want our team dynamics to change. We didn’t tell anyone until after a year into dating but still tried to keep it quiet from our coaches. As for our teammates, we were always open with them and in return, asked them to be honest with us. We said, if our relationship caused any issues with our teammates or was noticeable on the court, it would be dealt with immediately. Thankfully, we never had to cross this bridge. I think it helped to be transparent with our teammates from the beginning and year after year, who were extremely supportive in return. Although my experience was positive, there are a lot of individuals who are faced with negative experiences, including homophobia, rejection from peers, slurs, discrimination, etc.
Since more people are coming out and identifying as 2SLGBTQ+, it is important to have someone to look up to, especially in a sports setting. As a leader on both the Laurentian and Brock team, being a role model was critical. Not only as a good basketball player but as a positive teammate. I wanted to create a safe space where I empowered teammates who might also identify as LGBTQ+ and show them that it is okay to be their true, authentic selves. Also, when you have teammates who are open, it definitely makes it easier for others in the same situation to come out, especially when they look up to you.
Niki Ochinang- Manalo
My name is Niki and my pronouns are she/her. I am one of your panelists for Lead Thru Sport! I have been a part of the LGBTQ+ community for 6 years now and it has positively and inspiringly impacted my life in the classroom, on the court, and in my community. It is an honour to be a panelist and a member of the LGBTQ+ community!
Emma Trumble (she/her) has been a part of the competitive jump rope world since elementary school and doesn’t plan on leaving it anytime soon. Between national competitions and advisory boards, she has experienced all aspects of the sport from the ground up. She has seen the good, the bad, and has learned a lot about herself and her sexuality from the mostly accepting jump rope community.
Emma is a third year student at Bishop’s University studying Sports Business and Athletic Development, with a minor in Communications. She is most interested in looking at the intersections of gender and sexuality with sport through a critical yet hopeful lens to bring a larger focus on social change. Though her experiences have been mostly positive, the sport world is not often this way and she hopes all athletes can experience this positivity and acceptance in the future.