Coquitlam Express Hosts Pride Game Friday: “Everyone is welcome here”
The Coquitlam Express is hosting Pride Night on Friday when the Cowichan Valley Capitals come to town, and you don’t have to look too deep on social media to see that there are detractors.
Express general manager Tali Campbell even felt compelled to preemptively announce on his Twitter that the club would not force players to use Pride tape, instead offering it as an option for their games in BC Hockey League at the Poirier Sports and Leisure Centre. (7pm).
“The night is about acceptance and letting our community know that everyone is welcome here and treated equally,” Campbell said in a direct message. “It’s that simple for us. Show our full commitment to a judgement-free team, from the dressing rooms to the stands.
“The reality is that people still don’t feel comfortable, especially in hockey. We need to do our job as community leaders to change that, and hosting nights like this does just that. It’s a small step as we continue to climb that ladder to fix the problems in hockey.
“We have received a lot of encouragement and support not only from our league members but also from other leagues and the general community. At the same time, such an announcement provoked some hateful comments, which showed us why we need to organize a night like this and why we will continue to be at the forefront of such events.
Just to address the comments, the Pride Tape that we are offering to the players for Friday is optional for them, we are not forcing them to use it.
It is unfortunate that we have to remove this disclaimer, but judging by the recent comments we have received I thought we should. https://t.co/Ue0WX7hFv9
— Tali Campbell (@CampbellTali) January 24, 2023
Scroll through the comments on Express’ social media and they include things like, “Every hockey parent dreams of seeing their under-age teenage athletes play in front of an arena where gay men hang for their sexuality. The collective energy is going to be spooky.”
There are also positive reactions such as “some of the comments about this event are appalling, which only reinforces the need to show support and inclusion.”
Respondents are generally anonymous.
Public supporters of the team included Selina Robinson, MLA for Coquitlam-Maillardville and Minister for Secondary Education Pot. She stated on Twitter shortly after the Express announced that game that she would attend. She was among the supporters of a Coquitlam library hosting a drag queen story time earlier this month.
“We believe that everyone is equal,” Campbell reiterated Friday night. “They will be treated in the same way, they will be given the respect they deserve and they will always be welcomed in our dressing room, in the arena and as part of our team, whether they are players, staff, volunteers or fans.”
The Express (16-12-4-1), Victoria Grizzlies (16-12-3-2) and Chilliwack Chiefs (18-15-0-1) are currently chasing third place in the Coastal Conference. They all have 37 points. The Express and the Grizzlies both have a game on their hands against the Chiefs.
The Cowichan Valley Capitals (7-25-1-20) are at the bottom of the nine-team conference, 20 points behind Coquitlam.
The championship comes on the heels of the highly anticipated 60th Anniversary All-Star weekend in Penticton, which will include a Top Prospects game at the South Okanagan Events Center and a skills competition, alumni and friends game , and 3-on-3 all – Star game involved a tournament on an outside lane.
The celebrations were supposed to take place last year but were canceled due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 18-team league concludes its regular season in March.
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