San Jose Sharks forward Tommy Wingels spoke in support of NBA player Jason Collins, who openly disclosed he is gay, becoming the first active male athlete in any of the four major sports leagues in North America to do so.
Wingels is a member of the advisory board for the You Can Play Project, which was formed in 2012.
“I think it is a monumental day. It’s very encouraging for the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community and more importantly sports in general,” Wingels told the San Jose Mercury News.
“This is a day that’s been coming for a while. For an athlete to feel comfortable in his sport says a lot. We’ll see where it goes from here.”
As per the report in the San Jose Mercury News, Wingels was once a teammate of the late Brendan Burke, who came out in 2009.
On April 5, the You Can Play Project wrote an open letter on its website to the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, asking for reporters involved to consider selecting Wingels for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.
Here is a paragraph from the online letter. (For the full version, click here)
Simply put, without Tommy, there would be no You Can Play Project. We can say this honestly, and we can say it for many reasons. Tommy’s unwavering support of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community in the sports world began at Miami University with his support of the late Brendan Burke. Brendan’s story is now well known in the hockey world, but the role of the Miami players in the story is often underemphasized. Without the support of his wonderful Miami teammates, Brendan would not have been in a position to share his story with the rest of the hockey world. Tommy, in his position as captain, worked with the rest of the team to ensure that Brendan felt safe and welcomed in the Redhawks locker room.