SAN DIEGO GULLS TO HOST INAUGURAL DIVERSITY NIGHT
SAN DIEGO - The San Diego Gulls announced today that the American Hockey League (AHL) club will host its inaugural Diversity Night on Saturday, Jan. 20 at Valley View Casino Center (vs. San Jose, 7 p.m.). The Gulls will celebrate Diversity Night to raise awareness to diverse groups in hockey, and drive positive social change and foster more inclusive communities within the sport.
The Gulls will recognize diverse groups throughout the night, including diversity ambassador Willie O'Ree; You Can Play, an initiative that works to ensure safety and inclusion for all who participate in sports, including LGBT athletes, coaches and fans; the LGBT Visitors Center, which exists to share San Diego's LGBT friendly brand and image with the world; the San Diego Sled Hockey Team that consists of disabled and able-bodied athletes ages 14 and older, including active duty military and veterans; and the San Diego Chill, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping kids with developmental disabilities play ice hockey.
Prior to the start of the game, Willie O'Ree will take part in a ceremonial puck drop with captains from each team. O'Ree, a former San Diego Gull from 1967-74, broke the color barrier in the National Hockey League (NHL) 60 years ago on Jan. 18, 1958, an event that paved the way for future players of diverse ethnic and economic backgrounds. O'Ree is one of the most prominent diversity ambassador's in the sport of hockey, and is the NHL's Diversity Ambassador for the Hockey is for Everyone initiative.
The Gulls will wear special diversity themed warm-up jerseys that will be up for auction. Fans at the game or at home can also contribute to Diversity Night by participating in the in-game auction featuring Gulls autographed diversity jerseys that will be worn during the team's warm-up at 6:30 p.m. Jerseys will be available to bid during the evening's game on the concourse at Section 10. Select jerseys will be available via the DASH Auction app, a digital auction platform. Fans can download the DASH Auction app via iOS or Android devices in the app store. All proceeds will benefit the You Can Play, LGBT Visitors Center and the San Diego Chill.
Special Diversity Night merchandise will be available throughout the game, including a limited number of Gulls replica diversity jerseys, themed hats, tie dye t-shirts and tank tops for men and women.
Fans are encouraged to participate in the free Bud Light Pre-game Tailgates from 5-7 p.m. in front of the box office on the North side of Valley View Casino Center. Fans can enjoy a pregame party in the parking lot featuring $5 Bud Light, street hockey, sled hockey demonstrations by the San Diego Ducks Sled Hockey team, the Sub Fusion Food Truck, photos with Gulliver and the Gulls Girls, interactive games, activities for fans of all ages, chances to win Gulls player autographed memorabilia and more.
Tonight, Gulls President of Business Operations Matt Savant will participate in a live sports panel, Who Can Play?, hosted by the You Can Play Project and LGBT's In the News with Thom Senzee at Gossip Grill beginning at 6:30 p.m. The panel will discuss focus on the LGBTQ participation in sports and athletics at all levels. Panelists include Katie Sowers, the San Francisco 49ers assistant coach and NFL's first out, gay coach; Erin Foley, a comedic actor and host of Mixologist, and a writer, entertainer on NBC and Comedy Central; Sam Johnson, NCAA soccer player and nationally recognized equality advocate; Brooke Sullivan, equality activist and LGBTQ sports-equality pioneer, and member of the San Diego Surge women's tackle football team.
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