IOWA CITY, Iowa – The University of Iowa Athletics Department sent seven staff members to the inaugural Big Ten Conference LGBTQ+ symposium at the league office in Chicago. It included 100 representatives from all 14 conference schools.
Seth Schrock (cheer/spirit), Ryan Ruckdaschel (director of operations, women’s gymnastics), Lowell McNicholas (assistant coach, rowing), Raina Harmon (assistant coach, women’s basketball), Liz Hollingsworth (Faculty Athletics Representative), Anthony Embry (DEI coordinator) and Lorena Holston (Asst. AD, DEI) represented the University of Iowa. The Hawkeye group connected with attendees and participated in panel discussions and breakout groups.
Harmon spoke on a panel titled “Current State of College Athletics.”
“I enjoyed my time at the Big Ten’s LGBTQ+ symposium,” said Harmon. “As a panelist, I had the opportunity to share my journey, my struggles, and my triumphs as I navigate being a member of the community. It was refreshing to be in a space with student-athletes, administrators and coaches who were all seeking ways to become allies. I’d like to give kudos to the Big Ten for creating this space for its members to connect with one another.”
The symposium had three initial objectives:
- Celebrate the Big Ten’s commitment to the LGBTQ+ community.
- Discuss and share leading practices, guidelines and activities activated on each of the 14 Big Ten campuses and throughout the footprint.
- Establish an official Big Ten LGBTQ+ group to lead the deployment of best practices, guidelines and activities.
“The symposium was incredible,” said McNicholas. “To have the opportunity to meet people from across the conference who came together to share stories and ideas, listen and learn, challenge norms, and grow as a community is truly special. A special piece for me was meeting and getting to know student-athletes from other institutions who are actively taking the lead to build more inclusive and supportive communities within their athletics departments and universities.
“I left Chicago feeling empowered, motivated, connected and better prepared to help shape a brighter future for the LGBTQ+ community in college athletics. Top marks to the Big Ten team as well for how thoughtful and organized the event was. You could tell they took the time, energy, and care to put on a successful symposium from the small details and logistics to the big impact moments. I am excited for round two in 2024.”
The final summer trip for the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion group will conclude in Mississippi and Alabama from July 14-16.
Four female student-athletes — Myah Lugar (rowing), Harper Dunne and Mary Jane McNary (field hockey) and Alli Bookin-Nosbisch (track & field/XC) will participate in the Big Life Series: Selma to Montgomery.
Student-athletes, coaches, administrators and Big Ten Conference staff members will travel through Selma and Montgomery, Alabama, for a civil rights movement educational experience. Student-athletes will visit various museums such as Rosa Park, Freedom Riders, Alabama State, Alabama Archives, Civil Rights Memorial Center and the option to visit The National Memorial for Peace and Justice as well as march from Selma’s First Baptist Church across Edmund Pettus Bridge.
This will be the second straight year Hawkeye student-athletes will travel to Mississippi and Alabama.