West Liberty Athletics participates in NCAA inclusion campaign


WLU Athletics

WLU’s NCAA Inclusion campaign post for day three

The West Liberty University Athletics Department participated in the NCAA’s annual diversity and inclusion social media campaign last week. Over the course of three days, WLU athletics released a series of videos and posts dedicated to the themes of this year’s campaign: “Exploring My Identities”, “Allyship is…” and “Strength in Unity”.

The NCAA inclusion campaign started back in 2018 to start a conversation about diversity and highlight the benefits of creating a welcoming atmosphere for all in college sports. West Liberty’s Athletics department participated in the 2022 event under the guidance of Athletics Diversity and Inclusion Designee (ADID) and Women’s Basketball Coach, Cassie Seth.

Day one of the campaign was focused on “Exploring My Identities”. WLU’s post was focused on Zayne Brakeall, a graduate student who plays soccer and track and field for the Hilltoppers. The post features a short video of Brakeall reading a letter to their younger self and highlighting the struggles they have faced but more importantly the pride they feel about overcoming those difficulties and accepting themself for who they are. The video has been met with an overwhelmingly positive response and currently has over 980 views on Twitter.

Seth said, “I wanted it to make an impact… So, Zayne was an obvious choice for me. They’re someone that since I’ve been here, I’ve watched go through their progression and be more comfortable in themselves and that’s inspiring to me. I wanted to showcase that.”

Day two’s theme “Allyship is…” was tackled with a video featuring the Hilltopper men’s and women’s basketball teams discussing what being an ally means to them. The video highlighted important aspects of allyship such as “accepting others with different experiences” and “unconditional and consistent support”. The video closes with both teams saying “We stand together.”

The third revolved around “Strength in Unity” and featured two posts discussing the importance of unity and inclusion from the perspective of administrators and coaches in various sports. One post quoted WLU’s Assistant Athletic Director and Director of Compliance, Brad Forshey saying “Athletics personifies unity and inclusion. All successful teams and programs have one common characteristic. It’s not schematics or styles of play, it’s the power of unity. A group of individuals who become one.”

The second post featured several WLU athletics coaches’ thoughts on the importance of fostering a supportive and inclusive environment for student athletes from all kinds of backgrounds and creating a second family on the Hilltop.

Though last week’s campaign was significant, Seth hopes that this is only the tip of the iceberg. “What I would like to see happen is that we continue this conversation not just for this week,” she said. “That starts with me, with us as coaches, we have responsibility within our teams to continue this conversation too.”

Moving forward, the Athletics Department with Seth as the ADID plan to collaborate with West Liberty’s recently established Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee to ensure that the conversation around inclusion continues across campus. “Where it goes for right now is unknown, but I do believe it is up to the leaders to make that happen,” said Seth.