October 20, 2011 at 3:38 pm EDT | by Kevin Majoros
Accolades and honors

Team D.C. Champions' 2011 honorees Brandon Waggoner, left, and Chris Cormier of the D.C. Gay Flag Football League. (Photo by Kevin Majoros)

On Saturday, Team D.C. will host the 2011 Champions Awards which honors members of the LGBT sports community. The event will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at the HRC building at 1640 Rhode Island Ave. Tickets are $40 and the event is open to the public. Ticket price includes an open bar, buffet and dessert bar.

Special guest speaker will be three time all-American wrestler and straight ally, Hudson Taylor who is the founder of the anti-homophobia campaign, Athlete Ally. The 2011 honorees are as follows Martin Espinoza of Stonewall Kickball (MVP Award), Chris Cormier of D.C. Gay Flag Football (MVP Award), Phil Piga and Tony Watkins of Anywhere Goes (Trailblazer Award), Brandon Waggoner of D.C. Gay Flag Football (Trailblazer Award) and Town Danceboutique (Community Support Award).

After the awards are presented, Team D.C. will be honoring its 2011 Student-Athlete Scholarship recipients. The scholarships are awarded to self-identified LGBT student-athletes who have made a contribution to their sport and as a result of their contributions and involvement, have enhanced the perception of the LGBT community.

The scholarship provides up to $2,000 per student and is awarded to graduating high school seniors or current college students from the Washington metropolitan area.  Scholarship money is raised through Team D.C. fundraisers and donations from local LGBT sports teams.

The Team D.C. Student-Athlete Scholarship was the brainchild of former board member Greg Campbell and was one of the first of its kind in the United States when it was created in 2008. This year will be the fourth consecutive year that scholarships have been awarded. The 2011 recipients are:

Nate Eckland of Bethesda, Md., who graduated from Walt Whitman High School and captained the varsity coed volleyball team. He is attends Washington University in St Louis.

Justin Kanga of Silver Spring, Md., who graduated from Montgomery Blair High School and participated in varsity track and field and varsity diving. He attends the University of Maryland in College Park.

Jorge Acevedo of Arlington, Va., who graduated from Wakefield High School and participated in varsity swimming. He attends Northern Virginia Community College.

Back in April,  Eckland told one of his teachers that he would be participating in the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN) annual Day of Silence to protest bullying and harassment of LGBT students and their supporters. His teacher was aware of the scholarship and offered to be one of his sponsors. He is getting settled in at Washington University and hopes to check out intramural volleyball and flag football.  Though he is still undecided as to his career path, he expressed an interest in psychology and the arts.

Acevedo has self-identified as gay since his freshman year of high school and has been blessed to be surrounded by an incredible group of friends who see him as a person and not just a gay man. He learned of the scholarship opportunity through his high school swim coach. He is also undecided as to a college major, but is interested in theater and psychology.

For more information on the Champions Awards and the Team DC Scholarship, go to teamdc.org.


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