May 23, 2013 at 12:02 pm EDT | by Kevin Majoros
Let ‘Freedom’ ring
Stonewall Kickball, sports, JR's, Cobalt, gay news, Washington Blade, Stead Park

Kickball is one of the sports slated for inclusion in the new Freedom Sports Festival which kicks off here in July. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Summers in the Washington area are always filled with a great mix of LGBT sporting events. This summer will once again showcase events run by the D.C. Strokes Rowing Club, the District of Columbia Aquatics Club and the D.C. Front Runners just to name a few. In August, the Chesapeake and Potomac Softball League will welcome 4,000 athletes to D.C. for the NAGAAA Gay Softball World Series.

The summer will also bring a new event — Team D.C. will host the first Freedom Sports Festival from July 18-21. Team D.C. is the information clearinghouse for the roughly 30-plus LGBT sports teams in the area.

The Festival is expected to be a regional sporting event run in the years opposite the Gay Games. After taking a year off for the Gay Games in 2014, the event will run for three years straight through 2017.

This year’s lineup of sports will consist of kickball, golf, racquetball, ballroom dancing, beach volleyball and basketball. Each of the tournaments will be hosted within the D.C. city limits and will be run by that sport’s respective local LGBT sports team.

“We have targeted sports with limited tournament opportunities,” says Brent Minor, founder and executive director of Team D.C. “This will give the smaller and lesser known sports a chance to grow.”

The Festival will kick off on July 18th with the Team D.C. Champions Awards and the Team D.C. College Scholarship Reception. Each year, Team D.C. honors members of the local LGBT sports community with the MVP Award, the Trailblazer Award and the Community Support Award.

On the same night, Team D.C. will award its annual college scholarships to openly gay student athletes from the D.C. area. The college scholarships are funded by various Team D.C. fundraisers along with major contributions from the Capital Tennis Association, the D.C. Gay Flag Football League and the D.C. Frontrunners.

Last year, Team D.C. awarded six scholarships ranging from $500-$2,000. This year is shaping up to be another banner year of recipients as several applications of merit have been received with the June deadline fast approaching.

After a weekend of tournament play, the Freedom Sports Festival will wrap up on July 21 with an evening of fun at the Six Flags America Water Park in Largo, Md., from 5 p.m. until close. Everyone is welcome to join the athletes for a relaxing water-filled evening.

‘We are hoping that a lot of spectators come out to see the Festival tournaments,” Minor says. “Seeing the events in person makes the sport more real and accessible. Growing the smaller sports helps to build new leadership in our sports community. We expect to add more sports in the future such as women’s rugby.”

Team D.C. will also host Night OUT at the Kastles on July 22 at Kastles Stadium as our World Team Tennis players take on the Philadelphia Freedoms.

Information and registration for the Freedom Sports Festival will be posted soon at Nominations for the Champions Awards and applications for the College Scholarships can be found on the same website.

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