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Hockey Is For Everyone

You Can Play meaningful to Trevor van Riemsdyk

Blackhawks defenseman follows brother's lead in effort to promote inclusion in hockey

by Brian Hedger / Correspondent

CHICAGO -- When the opportunity to become the Chicago Blackhawks ambassador for the You Can Play Project was presented to Trevor van Riemsdyk, it didn't take him long to accept.

Van Riemsdyk had already seen what his older brother, James van Riemsdyk, had done in the role for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and he wanted to make the same impact for the initiative in Chicago.

"This is something I wanted to do," Trevor van Riemsdyk said of the You Can Play Project, a nonprofit organization committed to supporting the LGBTQ community and fighting homophobia in sports. "I saw that James had become [the Maple Leafs' ambassador] and a day or two later, I just became aware of it [here]. I got to become our ambassador, and I was thrilled that I got to be the guy for us."

The reason is simple. Van Riemsdyk wanted to help the Blackhawks and the NHL promote inclusion in the sport during February, which is Hockey Is For Everyone month.

Each day of the month, NHL teams, the League and the NHL Players' Association will stage events that promote awareness of LGBTQ, ethnic and gender equality, socio-economic status and those living with disabilities.

The Blackhawks are hosting Hockey Is For Everyone night at United Center on Saturday during their game against the Edmonton Oilers (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, SN, WGN). Blackhawks players will use rainbow-patterned pride tape on their sticks during warmups, and select players sticks will be auctioned online from Feb. 20-27, with proceeds benefitting the You Can Play Project.

There will also be booths dotting the concourse to provide information about Hockey Is For Everyone, You Can Play Project, the Chicago Gay Hockey Association, Center on Halsted and Hockey On Your Block. Proceeds from a silent auction and Split the Pot drawing will benefit each organization.

"I think it's awesome," van Riemsdyk said. "I think it goes a long way, whether it's just doing little stuff like this, [or having] people know that the locker room is a place for everyone and you're going to feel included. As long as you've got a love for hockey, you'll be accepted here. So, it's awesome that they're taking this initiative and it's great to be part of a league that's doing that."

Turns out it's not the first time he's been part of a similar effort.

Van Riemsdyk also got involved in promoting LGBTQ awareness while he was in college at the University of New Hampshire. He helped Hockey East, the conference in which New Hampshire plays, promote inclusion in the sport.

"We did a little video," he said. "[Hockey East] was involved, so we got to do something like that there. So I've always been interested in doing it and wanted to be a part of it whenever I could.

"I was lucky enough to be the representative here."

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