Colgate Athletics engages on topics of inclusion in sport

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Strategic diversity consultant Nevin Caple led a series of inclusion workshops with athletics staff and student-athletes last month at the invitation of Vice President and Director of Athletics Nicki Moore.

Caple is co-founder and managing partner of the LGBT SportSafe Inclusion Program and regularly partners with the NCAA on inclusion initiatives. She led an inclusion workshop with student athletes and a second workshop for athletics coaches and staff, in each session presenting strategies for achieving a diverse and inclusive community and discussing the importance of taking the time to listen to each other’s stories.

“Student-athletes are looking for a place where they can be who they are. We need to cultivate an environment where we can support these explorations of identity,” Caple said. She underlined the role of administration to start the conversation, assess the campus climate, and build inclusion into the curriculum.

Caple encouraged coaches and athletics staff to educate themselves on LGBT terminology. She focused on the intersectionality of student-athlete identities and the respect and support that coaches and staff can provide as resources. Caple advocated for open conversations and for all to be active listeners when being “invited into” the lives of LGBTQ+ student-athletes.

“This is important foundational information that we can all use to create new levels of understanding, relating, and action,” said Tamala Flack, Colgate’s executive director for equity and inclusion.

Caple also met with members of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee to discuss how peers can influence the environment that student-athletes create for each other. Luke Myers ’20, cross country and track and field runner and co-vice president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, said Caple’s visit, “provided a great opportunity to pause and reflect on our commitment to diversity and inclusion, both within our athletic teams and throughout the Colgate community. While we pride ourselves on fostering a supportive environment in which to compete and learn, we can always be more proactive when it comes to inclusion.”

Moore learned of Caple while working on the NCAA’s Strategic Visioning and Planning Committee, and with the NCAA’s Mental Health Task Force. Now at the helm of Colgate’s Division I athletics program, Moore partnered with Kim Keenan-Kirkpatrick, deputy athletics director at Syracuse University, to bring Caple to central New York to facilitate inclusion workshops at both universities.

“My hope is that we will gain more awareness and value the differences we all bring with us, as well learn some practical ways we can act in a more inclusive manner,” said Moore. “One of the contributions athletics makes on a campus is to invite everyone into a shared space where we can create rituals and traditions and celebrate together. Our goal is to make people feel truly welcome and strive every day to be better than the day before — in every program we sponsor."