PHILADELPHIA — Trin Stephens acquired some additional motivation earlier than their first hockey follow.
It was a private message from the Philadelphia Flyers ahead Scott Laughton.
“It simply popped up,” the 13-year-old nonbinary participant mentioned. “It was wonderful as a result of I did not even suppose one thing like that may occur to me ever in my life.”
Another factor Trin did not suppose would occur was being a visitor of honor when the Flyers have fun Pride Night earlier than their recreation in opposition to the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday (7 pm ET; NBCSP, BSSC, ESPN+, SN NOW).
Trin will beat the ceremonial drum earlier than the puck drops.
“It’s tremendous wonderful as a result of it is a once-in-a-lifetime likelihood to have, being an LGBTQ youth doing this,” Trin mentioned. “I might completely love for individuals to be included in sports activities and be themselves and never have to cover it from the world.”
Laughton and Flyers teammate James van Riemsdyk are partially accountable for Trin’s new-found love of hockey. They have partnered with a number of LGBTQ+ nonprofit organizations and host members of the LGBTQ+ group at each residence recreation. That’s how they met Trin and their household, who attended the Flyers’ 3-1 win in opposition to the New York Islanders on Nov. 29 via tickets offered by Galaei, a camp for QTBIPOC (queer, trans, Black, indigenous and other people of colour).
Video: Laughton sends encouraging message to Trin
The Flyers forwards frolicked with Trin and their household after the sport.
“It was wonderful as a result of I acquired them to signal a hockey puck from the sport that I’ve in my room proper now, and a few signed posters,” Trin mentioned.
Tamicka Stephens, Trin’s mom, mentioned the assembly was real and that she felt Laughton and van Riemsdyk had as a lot enjoyable assembly Trin and the household as they did attending to spend time with two skilled athletes.
“It wasn’t like, ‘Oh, I’ve to do that for the press,'” she mentioned. “Their dialog was actually real with Trin and I and our household. … For Trin to really feel protected sufficient to speak to the hockey gamers, categorical curiosity, to me I used to be overjoyed.”
That assembly led to Trin pushing to begin enjoying hockey, and shortly was capable of be a part of a Snider Hockey program at Laura Sims Skate House within the Cobbs Creek part of the town.
Trin already knew the best way to skate, however now it is about getting used to skating with a stick and dealing with a puck. Most importantly, the children and coaches make Trin really feel like they’ve discovered a way of belonging.
“It’s been tremendous wonderful since I get to know new individuals and follow stuff, get to know my coaches and all the pieces,” Trin mentioned.
The particular message from Laughton simply added to the enjoyable.
“Hey Trin, it is Scott Laughton with the Philadelphia Flyers,” he mentioned within the video. “Just needed to say how good it was to satisfy you in November. I heard you are out skating and studying to play hockey immediately and I am unable to wait to see a video of it. Good luck on the market.”
Laughton mentioned having initiatives for the LGTBQ group, particularly kids, is necessary for him and van Riemsdyk.
“That’s what it is all about, actually, why you do all these nights and simply this type of initiative that James and myself have began right here,” Laughton mentioned. “Just to deliver new individuals into the sport that in all probability would not really feel very welcome earlier than. I believe it is beginning to change slowly and simply wish to be somewhat little bit of a voice and a part of that.
And Laughton mentioned he acquired as a lot from sending the video to Trin as Trin did, if no more.
“For me, it is even cooler to see the response from them,” he mentioned. “They have been going on the market and skating after coming to the sport and simply feeling welcome. I believed it was very cool and simply one thing which may imply lots to them, however I believe it means lots to me and my household too. So it is fairly particular.”
Trin has been to 2 practices and is worked up to continue learning. So as a lot enjoyable as Trin is having, Tamicka is much more excited.
“For me, you have acquired a helmet on, you are all lined up, no person actually is aware of, it is like one other child,” she mentioned. “No one actually is aware of in order that’s wonderful. To me, simply to be included, to even have one thing like this, to incorporate kids and take into consideration kids like this, to me is wonderful. Because as a mum or dad, I simply need my youngsters to be protected.”
Top picture: Trin Stephens, middle, and household (lr), uncle Jeff Buckson, mother Tamicka Stephens, brother Tristen Stephens, meet with Flyers gamers James van Riemsdyk and Scott Laughton in November.