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Edmonton volleyball player digs through adversity and paves way for LGBTQ+ community

Andre Arsenault digs for the MacEwan Griffins. Courtesy, Chris Pigott

Andre Arsenault, a two-time ACAC All-Conference player, CCAA Academic All Canadian, MacEwan record holder and career dig leader in ACAC men’s volleyball, is helping pave the way for the LGBTQ+ community.

Before he was receiving a multitude of success and awards in the athletic community, Arsenault was shoved into lockers, exploited for his sexuality and an easy target for other athletes to bully.

“The more I was bullied, the harder I worked,” Arsenault said.

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Arsenault began playing for the Medicine Hat Rattlers men’s volleyball team in 2014 before continuing his career as a student-athlete at MacEwan University.

The 24-year-old has faced an athletic career riddled with strife as his coaches warned him before entering the ACAC league that he had a chip on his shoulder which would see him have to work harder than most.

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The chip was no match for Arsenault as he shrugged it off with ease and lead the way for the LGBTQ+ community with his record-breaking success as a libero.

“Once I came out to my team and coaches, there was a direct correlation to my performance as a player,” Arsenault said.

Last year, he was sponsored to attend the Outsports Reunion conference in Colorado where he spoke about his experience as a gay student-athlete. He warned other amateur and professional athletes of the inner demons he faced within his career but also bread confidence for individuals to come out and conquer the stigma faced in locker rooms.

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“What the conference did was build this mental fortitude to take on the world,” Arsenault said.

Arsenault, an athlete who has inspired the LGBTQ+ community, leaves behind his story and legacy with his head held high. He continues to help others who identify with his challenges and success to battle their inner demons. He hopes his ability to mentor fellow colleagues and players will teach individuals to recognize that under each athlete is a human.

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“There will always be eyes watching for your failure but if you are successful they cannot question your successes or your accomplishments as a gay athlete,” Arsenault said.

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