press releases & in the news

Check out Seattle Pride Hockey Association press releases and related media articles below.

For media/press inquiries, or if you are interested in meeting with us, please email us at [email protected].

Press releases

April 5, 2024

Seattle Pride Hockey Association (SPHA) continues to pioneer inclusivity and community engagement within the LGBTQ+ ice hockey community in the Seattle region. Supported by the National Hockey League (NHL) and the Seattle Kraken, SPHA’s initiatives are set to reach a broader audience in 2024.

June 5, 2023

Third annual event on June 9, 10 & 11 aims to grow the sport, create the largest and most inclusive pride hockey tournament in the country.

June 9, 2022

Second annual event on June 18 & 19 aims to grow the game, create the most inclusive pride hockey tournament in the country.

Captured on Regional & National TV




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kiro 7 news - SEATTLE

2021 – Part 1

2021 – Part 2


seattle kraken



in the news


By Jon Lane, April 17, 2024

The NHL and the National Hockey League Players’ Association made major strides toward hockey becoming accessible and enjoyable in new and established markets by investing more than $14 million in numerous community impact programs and initiatives in the United States and Canada.

New records and standards were set during the 2023-24 regular season, with the League attracting an all-time single-season high of 22,560,634 fans through games Monday to break the mark of 22,436,532 set last season.


By Jay Neemeyer, April 6, 2024

Perhaps unexpectedly, a Seattle Pride Hockey Association (SPHA) executive is thankful the NHL stopped allowing specialty warmup jerseys and briefly banned its players from using Pride Tape earlier this season.

“It allowed the community to find each other,” SPHA co-founder Joey Gale said in a recent interview. “We were able to create friendships and partnerships with organizations like ours.”

The Stranger

By Adam Willems, March 28, 2024

The Seattle Pride Hockey Association (SPHA) has a sticky origin story. 

In 2019, Joey Gale, who had recently moved to Seattle from the Midwest, hit the ice to play in a local rec league game. But his stick stood out among the rest, as he’d wrapped his in Pride Tape, a rainbow-colored departure from the black adhesive players typically use. The tape set off queer hockey peer Steven Thompson’s gaydar.

Seattle Kraken

March 25, 2024

The Kraken are proud to welcome the Seattle Pride Hockey Association (SPHA) to our intermission game on Pride Night presented by Symetra. The Seattle Pride Hockey Association is committed to promoting and advocating for diversity and inclusiveness in the Pacific Northwest ice hockey community.

The Seattle Times

By Kate Shefte, February 14, 2024

After an outpouring of fan support for the idea the previous year, the Seattle Thunderbirds celebrated love on Valentine’s Day. Not just standard wedding-cake topper, 1990s romantic-comedy love, but inclusive love. 

Whereas last year, Pride night was left to the fans — with homemade hints left around the arena like Easter eggs — this year, the Thunderbirds made it an official date. Seattle had jerseys made for the occasion with rainbows on the sleeves, logo and numbers, with socks to match. They wore them the entire game. Coaches and staff wore rainbow ties.


The Hockey News

By Glenn Dreyfuss, October 25, 2023

The collective influence of players, sponsors, and advocacy groups scored a victory this week – the reversal of the NHL’s prohibition on the use of “Pride Tape.”

“After consultation with the NHL Players’ Association and the NHL Player Inclusion Coalition, players will now have the option to voluntarily represent social causes with their stick tape throughout the season,” the league said in a statement.

Good Morning America

By Haley Yamada, June 28, 2023

A hockey team made up entirely of trans and nonbinary athletes is celebrating gender diversity and queer visibility one game at a time.

Team Trans is an international collective of hundreds of members and is a “vital” safe space for hockey players who identify as transgender. The team travels across North America to play in LGBTQ hockey tournaments.

The Seattle Times

By Geoff Baker, June 28, 2023

My late mother’s longtime boyfriend had two adult sons, one of who happened to be gay. 

As kind and generous as my mother’s friend, Mike, was to us for decades before his passing, he was older and raised overseas in a conservative country where homosexuality wasn’t yet part of open conversation. So, he had trouble accepting his gay son’s sexual orientation and made it obvious through actions and awkwardly timed words.

Seattle Kraken

By Alison Lukan, June 16, 2023

The Seattle Pride Classic is more than just a hockey tournament, it’s a celebration of authenticity for the LGBTQ+ community.

For the past two years, Vanessa Vargas has driven the roughly 300 miles from her home in Spokane to captain a team in the Seattle Pride Classic, organized by the Seattle Pride Hockey Organization. But even as a life-long hockey fan who grew up watching Mighty Ducks and playing for the past 23 years, it’s not really about the games on ice for her.

The Hockey News

By Glenn Dreyfuss, June 13, 2023

Kraken Community Iceplex was never more full of Pride than it was last weekend.

Specifically, 18 teams made up of 260 LGTBQIA2+ players, in a tournament organized by Seattle Pride Hockey Association.

16-year NHL veteran Andrew Ference represented the league in his current role as Director of Social Impact, Growth & Fan Development. “This is a little bit out of the ordinary, where I get eight hours in my skates just playing hockey and having a ton of fun.”

The Seattle Times

By Geoff Baker, June 8, 2023

Mason LeFebvre carries two sets of goalie masks in his equipment bag — one a generic black and the other rainbow colored — when he plays in a hockey tournament that isn’t familiar to him.

As a transgender player, feeling safe among teammates and spectators watching from the stands is of utmost importance. LeFebvre, a 29-year-old transgender man, is in town from Wisconsin for this weekend’s third annual Seattle Pride Classic tournament for LGBTQ+ players at the Kraken Community Iceplex and grew up playing girls hockey.


Seattle Pride Magazine

By A.V. Eichenbaum, Winter 2022/23 Edition

IT WAS RAINBOW-COLORED TAPE THAT BROUGHT Seattle Pride Hockey Association (SPHA) founders Joey Gale and Steven Thompson together in 2018. Thompson, who was working with the Greater Seattle Hockey League—now called the Kraken Hockey League—met Gale at a skate evaluation for local teams.

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USA Hockey

By Steve Drumwright, June 25, 2022

The tournament more than doubled in size from last year.

To say that Aimee Taylor enjoyed herself the weekend of June 18-19 was an understatement. She could be herself, letting her ever-present guard down because she was among a community of folks like her and playing the game she loves.

The Seattle Times

By Geoff Baker, June 17, 2022

Gilbert Villalpando grew up shunning sports in his native Texas, feeling excluded as a “skinny, scrawny kid” who also secretly happened to be gay.

Beyond the physical disparities, which others around him singled out, Villalpando, 42, also struggled mentally to relate to an aggressively masculine and sometimes misogynistic mindset on playing fields and in locker rooms. “I was already being treated differently and on top of that it wasn’t a comfortable environment,” he said.

By William Douglas, June 14, 2022

More than half of 146 players expected to participate part of LGBTQI+ community.

This June, the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association’s joint Hockey Is For Everyone initiative will celebrate Pride Month. All 32 NHL Clubs, alumni, and current players will participate in pride events, including parades, across North America. As part of Pride Month, will share stories about the LGBTQI+ hockey community. Today, a look at the Seattle Pride Classic hockey tournament.

Seattle Kraken

By Bob Condor, June 1, 2022

During the June 18 and 19 weekend, there will Pride-themed public skating session at the Iceplex. On the 18th the Pride- themed skate beings at 6:15pm, on the 19th skaters can hop on the ice at 4 p.m. Follow Kraken Community Iceplex on social media and look for more details in the coming days. Plus, make plans watch some of the action that weekend in the Seattle Pride Hockey Classic.


The Seattle Times

By Crystal Paul, October 24, 2021

Rainbow-colored tape flashed on the blades of hockey sticks as they struck the ice. On players’ helmets, pronouns were written next to their names — he/him, she/her, they/them. Players competed under the banners of teams named after LGBTQ+ icons like “Team Marsha P. Johnson,” “Team Harvey Milk,” and “Team Laverne Cox.”

NBC Sports

Seattle Pride Hockey Association committed to inclusiveness in the Pacific NW

By Jamie Hudson, June 28, 2021

The Seattle Pride Hockey Association, also known as SPHA, is a Seattle nonprofit organization which is geared towards the growth of ice hockey through diversity and inclusion.T

One of the league’s motto is “anyone over age 18 with an open mind and a love for hockey is welcome.”

We caught up with co-founders Steven Thompson and Joey Gale earlier this month to find out more.

Seattle Kraken

By Andy Eide,  June 23, 2021

The first annual Seattle Pride Hockey Classic, presented by Symetra, staged this past weekend, was a huge success from round-robin to championship game judging from smiles, handshake and camaraderie.

Thanks to a ferocious four-goal third period at Olympic View Ice Arena in Mountlake Terrace on Sunday, Team Marsha came back for a 5-3 victory over Team Edie to win the first-ever Symetra Cup during the weekend’s Seattle Pride Classic, presented by Symetra.

By William Douglas, June 17, 2021

Almost here and long anticipated, the first annual Seattle Pride Classic presented by Symetra skates into existence this weekend. Four teams, 56 players, hundreds of likely fans, two co-founders and a Kraken team broadcaster will mark the occasion.

It is now just days until the first puck drop of this weekend’s first-ever Seattle Pride Classic presented by Symetra, but the hockey event is years in the making.

Seattle Kraken

By Bob Condor, June 17, 2021

Almost here and long anticipated, the first annual Seattle Pride Classic presented by Symetra skates into existence this weekend. Four teams, 56 players, hundreds of likely fans, two co-founders and a Kraken team broadcaster will mark the occasion.

It is now just days until the first puck drop of this weekend’s first-ever Seattle Pride Classic presented by Symetra, but the hockey event is years in the making.

Seattle Kraken

By Bob Condor, June 16, 2021

Kraken supporting two-day event promoting participation by LBGTQ+ community, others.

Steven Thompson didn’t know what to expect when he began playing hockey in Seattle four years ago.

“I was very nervous and afraid of the unknown,” he said. “What kind of people would I come across? What kind of personalities, attitudes? Being a gay player, I didn’t know what to expect.”

Seattle Kraken

By Bob Condor, June 10, 2021

Last June, Steven Thompson and Joey Gale were standing down on holding the first-ever Seattle Pride Hockey Association invitational event due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the co-founders of SPHA were far from standing still.

The evidence comes into full view next weekend, June 19 and 20, when the Seattle Pride Classic 2021, presented by Symetra, drops the puck at Olympic View Arena in Mountlake Terrace for the first of what no doubt will be many ‘Classics’ in the Junes of our future. This year’s version will feature four teams and 56 players.

Seattle Kraken

By Bob Condor, June 1, 2021

June represents a month to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community for its history, ‘new wins for equality’ and an inaugural Seattle Pride Hockey Association tournament.

As Seattle and the region prepares for a month-long Pride celebration of our LGBTQIA+ community, anchored by a two-day Seattle Pride virtual “Resilience” event June 26 and 27, the Kraken, in partnership with First Founding Partner Symetra, will keep pace with the festivities.

2020 articles

Seattle Kraken

By Bob Condor, June 28, 2020

As co-founder of the new Seattle Pride Hockey Association, Steven Thompson is well-equipped to stand for inclusion in the sport at the local level

As a school kid growing up in Seattle, Steven Thompson’s dad took him to see Seattle Thunderbirds games in the Western Hockey League, including any number on the Seattle Center campus. He remembers his dad most always purchased seats along the front-row glass, making it tradition for Thompson to bang on the glass when T-Birds skated his way.

Seattle Kraken

By Bob Condor, June 23, 2020

NHL Seattle to team up with Symetra, Seattle Pride Hockey Association and You Can Play for a roundtable discussion on the nature of allyship, inclusivity in hockey and more

As a warmup for the upcoming virtual “Together for Pride” weekend here in the city, NHL Seattle and its first founding partner, Symetra, will present an online “Pride Roundtable” that will be posted Wednesday.

Seattle Kraken

By Erica L. Ayala, June 22, 2020

As the this June’s Pride celebration goes virtual, NHL Seattle and partner organizations look for deeper, year-round engagement with underrepresented communities.

Seattle is known for many things: Jimi Hendricks, coffee, the Space Needle and one day it’s new NHL team. The city is also known for its Pride celebration, according to You Can Play director of partnerships and development, Jonas Worth. All the more reason when he first met with NHL Seattle last November, he was adamant the club foster relationships with local organizations.

SB Nation | OutSports

By Alex Reimer, May 8, 2020

Tens of thousands of LGBT people participate in sports leagues across the country, where they find friendship and comfort.

It was one of the most monumental nights of Karleigh Webb’s life, and her softball family offered a toast. That day, Webb’s name change became legal, representing an enormous step in her transition. Prior to Webb’s entrance into the Southern New England Friendship League — Connecticut’s only surviving LGBT softball league — she says many league members had never met a trans person. Then the New England Barracudas entered the mix. The league’s newest team featured six trans players, and after playing like the 1962 Mets when they first stepped onto the field, they reached the playoffs last season. The winning felt great, but most of all, Webb savored her new community.

2019 article

SB Nation | OutSports

By Joey J. Gale, July 4, 2019

One of my closest college mentors passed on a lesson that has stayed with me since my years at Drake University. “Regardless of how big or small, do something every day to queer the space around you.”

I’ve carried this charge with me into my professional career since graduating. But it’s the pushback and challenges against it in the hyper-masculine sport of hockey that has taught me so much more.


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