Meet the Students Heading The University of Delaware’s Athlete Ally Ambassador Program

Learn more about Athlete Ally Ambassadors Barry Shapiro and Hayley Diverio of the University of Delaware. 

Meet Hayley:

My name is Hayley Diverio. I am just finishing my Junior year at the University of Delaware. My major is Environmental Studies with a concentration in Sustainability. I also have a minor in Legal Studies. I am a coxswain on the Varsity Women’s Rowing Team at UD. For most of my life I swam competitively, but I began coxing my sophomore year of high school. I knew from the moment I started that I wanted to compete at the highest level in college. My dad, who played collegiate soccer, explained the level of commitment that Division 1 athletics requires, and I just couldn’t picture my college career without serious competition and rowing. I was lucky enough to go through the recruitment process with a few schools and end up in an Athletic Department like UD’s. Currently, I can’t picture my life without rowing, but luckily it is a sport that I will be able to compete in long after I graduate next spring. While my sport is, by far, the biggest part of my college career after academics, I am also involved in other areas of campus including New Student Orientation and the Blue Hen Leadership Program (BHLP). Both of these programs have allowed me to meet and interact with a diverse group of students and faculty. BHLP is the leadership development program on campus. It has given me the confidence to succeed, not only in school, but on the water as part of my team. It is also the program that got me involved with Athlete Ally. I was involved in a diversity program in high school that focused on all aspects of diversity among people, but I had yet to get involved in something like it at college. Athlete Ally really opened the door for me to start something that will benefit the athletic community and culture at UD. I am so excited for where this program will go next year and the years to come after I graduate.

Meet Barry:

My name is Barry Shapiro and I am also finishing up my Junior year at the University of Delaware. I am majoring in Psychology and will most likely attend Graduate school for Psychology shortly after graduating from Delaware. I currently play basketball for my school’s club team and have played the sport for as long as I can remember. My dad as well as two of my three brothers played basketball, which is how it became such a big part of my life. In addition to basketball, I love to play music and draw recreationally. Music and art have also been in a big part of my life since I was little, but basketball has always been more important to me.  It has taught me so much in terms of what it takes to win and how to deal with losing. It has given me unique and lasting relationships with my teammates and friends as well as a wholesome relationship with myself as a player and as an individual off the court. Everything that I have learned from basketball has inspired me to use Athlete Ally to share and protect the values and lessons that come with being an athlete or even playing a sport non-competitively. Anything that has the potential for greatness should not be exclusive in any way. Part of the reason why I love basketball and sports in general so much is because of the respect that is developed between opponents and rivals. As a little kid, I grew up playing basketball with a group of kids that either ended up on my high-school team or ended up playing our rival school. Instead of being consumed by the animosity that comes with competition and especially with rivalries, we gave into the overpowering simplicity of the game and the unbreakable bonds that were created from it. The mutual respect that I have for the kids that I grew up playing with is what sports are all about. Athlete Ally will show the world the true potential of sports and humanity by eliminating all forms of discrimination and by creating a safe environment for athletes on and off the court.

Learn more about their efforts on campus, and why they see them as important:

Q: How do you see an organization like Athlete Ally benefitting the culture of athletics at UD?

A: We think that Athlete Ally will have a positive and lasting impact on the athletic culture at UD. We believe it will open the door for more student athletes to be true to themselves and for straight allies to verbalize their support.

Q: Do you think the climate for LGBT student-athletes at UD is a welcoming one?

A: Although, we have received a lot of support from fellow club and varsity athletes, we also recognize that more needs to be done at UD in order to be as safe and inclusive as we know it can be.

Q: Why do you think it’s important for athletics to be a safe space for everyone, both at the varsity and intramural level?

A: Athletics at any level have such a huge influence on a wide range of people, whether you are a fan or a player. In an environment that focuses so much on competition, it is extremely important to make sure that all who are involved can participate without any worries. Varsity athletes are looked up to by so many in every collegiate community and have the potential to create a stronger and more personal connection to their fellow schoolmates. It is also important for athletics at the club level to be a safe space for everyone because they are far less cut-throat than varsity athletics, therefore opening them up to a wider range of talent and commitment. In an unsafe environment, some members of the team may find it difficult to point out a problem especially when they have less experience and may not be as connected as other members of the team. For some club teams that do not have a coach, a safe environment is not a priority, as it should be, making it more difficult to come by. Athlete Ally will aid these teams in coming together and creating that safe and inclusive place.

Q: Do you think professional athletes standing up as allies for the LGBT community is necessary to ensure progress?

A: We think it is absolutely necessary for professional athletes to stand up as allies for the LGBT community because sports, despite being one facet of culture, have one of the largest impacts on the way people live and think. Their support will not only allow those involved in athletics to be who they want to be, but will also aid in the movement towards a more accepting and safe global community.

Q: Do you think teams with open, inclusive policies where all members feel free to be exactly who they are, will win more?

A: Having a team that is completely comfortable and accepting of every member will definitely increase its chances of winning. Of course winning is possible for teams that do not have inclusive policies, but by implementing such policies, winning becomes a lot more likely and more enjoyable.