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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Hawks Pride builds community for LGBTQIA+ athletes

Mia Messina

Two years ago, a St. Joe’s athletics administrator approached Katie Kuester ’12, assistant women’s basketball coach and recruiting coordinator, with a goal: to create an accepting and empowering space for students from all walks of life.

Armed with a mission, Kuester teamed up with current director of basketball operations for the women’s team, Mary Sheehan ’20, for the first meeting of Hawks Pride, and the creation of a safe space for LGBTQIA+ student-athletes and administrators.

“It was really important for us to create that obviously, to have that inclusivity within our athletic department,” Kuester said.

While Hawks Pride started small, it quickly expanded with the hope of making the athletics department a more inclusive space, Kuester said.

“The next meeting had a couple more women’s basketball players involved,” Kuester said. “Now, a little over two years later, we have about 25 to 30 student-athletes, [and] several coaches involved as well.”

Hawks Pride student ambassador and sophomore women’s basketball guard Emi Devenie said her experiences with Hawks Pride have helped her to build more friendships and comfortability within the student-athlete community.

“As a person who’s a part of the community, I think it’s been a safe place for me to be able to go and communicate different topics regarding the LGBTQ+ community, and also just being able to build stronger connections with people from other sporting teams as well as my own,” Devenie said.

Kuester said Hawks Pride can support LGBTQ student-athletes by educating the St. Joe’s community.

“It’s not always easy to be a young student athlete, dealing with their sexuality, whether they feel like they have a comfortable enough space to tell people who they really are or not,” Kuester said.

Junior guard Mackenzie Smith, who has been involved with Hawks Pride since its second meeting, said Hawks Pride also gives LGBTQ community allies the opportunity to show solidarity with other athletes regardless of what they identify as.

“It’s important to know for members of the LGBTQ community, that they have people on the outside who have their back and who support them on a daily basis,” Smith said.

Smith added that Hawks Pride is planning to expand and develop the group.

“Right now we have a very good group of people from various different teams and now we’re just trying to grow the group more,” Smith said.

Last year, Hawks Pride hosted their first ever Pride game, in which players wore LGBTQ flag-themed warm up T-shirts and had a rainbow bracelet-making station for attendees, Kuester said. Hawks Pride is continuing the tradition Dec. 7, when the women’s basketball team takes on the University of Utah at Hagan Arena.

Kuester said Hawks Pride would also like to work with student-athlete groups in the Philadelphia area.

“We’d like to join forces and continue to show support for the LGBTQIA+ community as a whole,” Kuester said.

The community Hawks Pride builds benefits the St. Joe’s community both inside and outside the athletics department, Devenie said.

“It’s making SJU more inclusive,” Devenie said. “And also celebrates the diverse community that we have within our student-athlete community as well as SJU as a whole.”

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Luke Sanelli
Luke Sanelli, Copy Editor
Mia Messina
Mia Messina, Sports Editor
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