Editor’s note: Gerard Burley also writes a fitness column for Washington Blade.
Leading up to the 2010 Gay Games in Cologne, Gerard Burley was traveling through Europe working as a model and competing in a low-level professional basketball league.
Burley met up with his basketball teammates from the D.C. Sentinels in Cologne and together, they won a bronze medal. It was Burley’s first Gay Games and looking back on it, he says all his focus was on winning.
The D.C. Sentinels just wrapped up season two of the Washington, D.C. Gay Basketball League and used that momentum to claim the tournament title at the Coady Roundball Classic in Chicago earlier this month.
A Baltimore native, Burley’s sports background includes football, baseball and basketball. After competing on his high school’s baseball and basketball teams, he went on to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he played on the scrimmage team against the varsity players.
The path to becoming a formidable basketball player included some life lessons early on in Burley’s basketball career.
“One time at a game in high school, we lost 105 to 20,” says the 30-year old fitness coach. “It was horrible.”
A commissioner for the League, Burley remains dedicated to the sport of basketball for a number of reasons.
“I love being part of a team,” he says. “Also, basketball is a combination of so many skill sets such as quickness, strength and hand-foot coordination. It really keeps me motivated.”
In preparation for the 2014 Cleveland Gay Games this August, Burley will continue to play twice weekly with his Sentinel teammates and will include some additional training to be in peak form.
“I am also going to be competing in flag football at the Cleveland Games,” Burley says. “My extra preparation will focus on explosion training, biometric jumps and body work.”
Burley says he was wide-eyed at his first Gay Games in Cologne and he hopes to take in more of the overall experience this summer in Cleveland. His work as a fitness coach also shines through as he reflects on what he wants to accomplish in August.
“I have matured since the Cologne Games and plan to appreciate these Games more. My focus this time will be on meeting and enjoying people from all over the world. If you don’t win a medal but still have a six-pack at the end of it, then you have accomplished something, right? Plus, I am single this time so it’s game on.”