Olympic short track speed skater and 11 time representative of New Zealand at the Speed Skating World Championships, Blake Skjellerup, paid a visit to York Prep School on Tuesday, October 28th. Being one of the first openly gay male athletes on the Olympic level, Blake was happy to share his story with York’s Gay Straight Alliance during their lunchtime meeting. Not only speaking about his personal experience as one of the very few world-class athletes to come out as gay while still competing, Blake also shared his thoughts on the value of sports and the climate of homophobia that still exists in much of the world.
In the relaxed setting of Mr. Roper’s classroom, Blake shared his story: beginning with the injury that led him to speed skating and ending with his current engagement and plans to compete in an Ironman Triathlon. Students and teachers alike were treated to an inspiring tale of triumph featuring many of the maxims of high school, including bullying, the importance of self-confidence, and the key role one’s hopes and dreams can have in getting through those rough days. While this was not a visit to be missed, those interested in participating in future GSA meetings should stay tuned because club advisor, Mr. Roper, has quite the line-up of guest speakers planned.