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How Olympian Quinn is Making Space in Sports 

How Olympian Quinn is Making Space in Sports 

Decorated athlete Quinn is an indomitable force in the world of soccer, both on and off the field. Currently playing for OL Reign, they’re the highest drafted Canadian player in NWSL history. They’ve also earned two Olympic medals, including the historic gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Games, where they became the first openly transgender, non-binary athlete to win an Olympic medal of any kind.

But it’s Quinn’s unwavering dedication to the future of soccer in Canada that has made them an inspiration to athletes across the nation — “few have done more in terms of mentorship, advocacy, and consummate professionalism than Quinn,” writes Glory Sports.

Quinn publicly came out in an Instagram post ahead of the Tokyo Games and has since become a vocal advocate for the LGBTQ2+ community, especially when it comes to sports.

This month, Quinn is helping to launch the See Them, Be Them initiative in partnership with GE Appliances and Canada Soccer. This unique mentorship program, created for 13-17-year-old girls and gender-diverse soccer players across Canada, will give eight players the opportunity to engage in both on-pitch battles and off-pitch conversations with Quinn, just weeks after they return from the World Cup. An additional 100 players will be invited to a virtual mentorship session with Quinn.

Ahead of the launch of the See Them, Be Them initiative, Glory Sports sat down with Quinn to discuss their hopes for this new mentorship program and the importance of representation.

Championing Inclusivity in Sports

Glory Sports: Obviously, such a core part of the See Them, Be Them initiative is about offering representation to young athletes; not just young women, but those who fall outside those binary gender confines. How important do you think that is in fostering the next generation of athletes?

Quinn: It’s so important. I really can’t explain how critical that is when I think about how I want to use my platform. […] When I was figuring out who I was, it was really scary and I didn’t understand if I had a future in football, if I had a future in life. I think it’s so important for younger generations and kids playing soccer to be able to see some of their role models in action and to know that there’s a path for them to get there, regardless of who they are.

Glory Sports: Was there a time when you were searching for that and struggled to find that affirmation?

Quinn: Yeah, I mean, it’s really difficult when you don’t see people like yourself in the media or even around you or in your profession. I was operating in the space of being a professional footballer and I wasn’t seeing people like me. I never want anyone growing up to feel like they don’t have a place, especially in a sports context that is meant to be empowering.

Glory Sports: Can you recall a moment when you felt seen in your young career?

Quinn: Absolutely. We’re lucky to have a rich history of soccer in Canada, specifically on the women’s team. I still remember when my mom pulled me out of school to go and watch the national team practice down in BMO Stadium one day. And I remember being able to interact with some of the players and it was just such an incredible moment to see, you know, what I wanted in the future and how that was a possibility. […]  I think that’ll be such a cool opportunity for folks [when Canada hosts the 2026 Women’s World Cup], to be able to start getting a familiarity with the players a little bit more, and picking out a player that they aspire to be like. I think that’ll be such a fun opportunity for young folks.

Glory Sports: You mentioned the notion of visibility. Obviously, you’re such a core part of offering that, even in your first World Cup appearance almost 10 years ago now. When you look back on who you were as a player and a person, I’m curious if you’ve noticed any key major changes in yourself both as a player or as a person or as a public figure.

Quinn: I think I’ve grown a lot both as a player and as a person. Those things are intertwined in some senses too. In order to be your best on the pitch, in order to perform your best in any job that you have, you have to feel comfortable with who you are. For me, the evolution of my game has also corresponded with how accepted I feel in the LGBTQ+ community and the broader community within Canada. And so, I think for me, that’s allowed my game to succeed.

Glory Sports: As we talk about mentorship, I’m wondering if you can speak more about the See Them, Be Them initiative and what you’ll be offering to young athletes, specifically?

Quinn: The mentorship was brought to me by GE [Appliances] and is actually a really unique mentorship experience for young girls and gender-diverse soccer players able to meet some of their role models. It’s cool. GE Appliances is going to host eight young soccer players who get to be a part of the program and do virtual and in-person training sessions and meet some of the national team players. That’ll be an incredible opportunity for young girls because we’re seeing in Canada, the drop-off rate for adolescent women in sports is still way too high. And so hopefully, this will just be another push for young girls to stay in sports. Maybe we’ll see them on the national team someday.

Glory Sports: And if you could offer those young athletes one piece of advice, what would it be?

Quinn: One thing that I’ve tried to keep along my journey is the idea of maintaining joy in everything you’re doing. I think that’s an exciting opportunity with the See Them, Be Them initiative to be able to just get back to that joy of playing the sport as well as sharing my experiences. I’m going to a World Cup training session in literally 30 minutes and that’s going to be my mentality going in; maintain joy in the process. It’s the same mentality that a young Quinn had when they were five years old begging their parents to let them on the pitch. It’ll be the same during the World Cup. I hope it’s the same for the rest of my career.

As a keynote speaker, Quinn shares their incredible soccer career — from their little league days to earning Gold in Tokyo — and their personal journey to finding their authentic self. They also speak to the power of allyship and inclusive spaces in helping members of the LGBTQ2+ community find success.

Quinn is also represented by our sister company, The Spotlight Agency, for brand partnership opportunities. They connected Quinn with GE Appliances and Canada Soccer to launch the See Them, Be Them initiative.