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Team DC gearing up for busy fall

Tennis, football, diving and much more on tap

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DCGFFL, D.C. Gay Flag Football League, sports, gay news, Washington Blade

The D.C. Gay Flag Football League starts its new season Sept. 7, while so much more awaits Team DC teams this fall. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

As the summer cools down, many LGBT sports leagues are just heating up. From Flag Football to Diving, Team DC has a wide array of LGBT sports opportunities this fall.

The Federal Triangles, D.C.’s LGBT soccer organization, kicks off its Rehoboth Beach Classic tournament over Labor Day weekend today (Friday) through Sunday. Participants are still needed. Members can register for $87.26 and non-members for $97.49 at federaltriangles.org.

The Triangles have indoor and outdoor coed, women’s and men’s teams over the fall. The Turkey Bowl, an annual tournament for all skill levels, is held each year the Saturday before Thanksgiving, with a potluck dinner party afterward.

FIND MORE OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE SPORTS ISSUE HERE.

Membership dues are $50 each year. Visit federaltriangles.org to become a member and find other ways to get involved.

The Capital Tennis Association has a fall league that runs from Sept. 17 through Dec. 29. The Capital Classic XXI Tournament is Sept. 13-15, with doubles and singles tournaments at the Rock Creek Tennis Center (16th and Kennedy streets, N.W.) and the East Potomac Center (1090 Ohio Dr., S.W.). Registration ranges from $70-130. For more information and to register, visit capital-tennis.org.

The Capital Tennis Association has six leagues that play weekly and three remain open, including Saturday Singles at Hains Point (972 Ohio Dr., S.W.), Saturday Faixfax Doubles and Sunday Fairfax Singles (9860 Lee Hwy., Fairfax, Va.). All skill levels are encouraged. Registration ranges from $165-330. Visit capital-tennis.org for more information and to register.

The Washington Wetskins water polo team hosts its annual Columbus Day Classic tournament on Oct. 12 at the Takoma Aquatic Center (300 Van Buren St., N.W.). Teams can register for $100 before Sept. 17, or for $450 afterward.

The Wetskins practice each week on Monday and Wednesday nights at the Takoma Aquatic Center. New members can register monthly for $30, quarterly for $90 or annually for $300. For more information on the tournament and to register, visit wetskins.org.

The D.C. Gay Flag Football League kicks off its seventh season on Sept. 7. The teams play every Sunday from 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. at Carter Barron Fields (16th and Kennedy streets, N.W.) and on Friday nights at Randall Field (820 South Capitol St., S.W.). All skill levels are welcome.

The game schedule for the fall is TBA. Registration is full, but those interested can be put on a waitlist. For more information and to be waitlisted, visit dcgffl.org.  

The Chesapeake and Potomac Softball league starts its fall season on Sept. 7, with registration through Sept. 2. The group plays every Saturday through Oct. 12, with teams playing at 10 or 11 a.m., or noon or 1 p.m., at the Tucker Road Complex (1771 Rucker Rd., Fort Washington, Md.). Registration is $30. For more details and to register, visit capssoftball.leagueapps.com.

The Lambda Links Golf Club continues membership through Oct. 31. The league hosts two fall tournaments, including the Club Championship on Sept. 7 and the Oct. 27 Halloween Tournament, with times and locations to be announced.

Lambda Links play at a variety of courses in the area, such as the Poolesville Golf Course (16601 West Willard Rd., Poolesville, Md.). Membership is $20 after Aug. 15. All skill levels are welcome, but members are expected to have played 18-hole rounds of golf and know “golf etiquette.” For more information and to register, visit lambdalinks.org.

The Lambda Divers, an LGBT scuba diving group, host a diving trip to Curacao, an island in the Caribbean, from Sept. 21-28. The trip is part of the International Gay and Lesbian Diving Jamboree, and requires a minimum deposit of $515.

Two-year membership dues for Lambda Divers range from $30-67.50. To register and for more information on the Curacao trip and the group, visit lambdadivers.org.

The D.C. Front Runners start back up their regular fall Saturday “fun run” on Sept. 7 from 10 a.m.-noon at 23 and P Streets, N.W. The “Fun Run” is their most popular weekly run, and includes 3-, 4- or 6-mile runs through scenic Rock Creek Park.

The Front Runners will also be participating in the “Arlington Police, Fire and Sheriff 9/11 Memorial 5K” run on Sept. 7 at the Crystal City Double Tree Hotel (300 Army Navy Dr., Arlington, Va.) at 6 p.m. The 9-11 Memorial 5K draws over 25,000 participants each year, and raises up to $400,000 for 9-11-related charities, like the American Red Cross and Wounded Warrior Project. Registration is $40.

The group will have a lot of races during the fall and participate in many more marathons in locations all over D.C. and as far as Baltimore and Philadelphia. For more information and to register for events, visit dcfrontrunners.org.

The Washington Renegades rugby league start their season on Sept. 7, which lasts through Nov. 23. Practices are held every Tuesday and Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at Cardozo High School (1300 Clifton St., N.W.).

Matches will take place each Saturday, with times and locations TBD. Membership for fall recruits is $50, and full-year membership is $100. For more information and to register, visit dcrugby.com.

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A Revolution for Women in Baseball

Last week, they announced that Rachel Balkovec will become the first woman to manage a team in minor league baseball.

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Rachel Balkovec was hired as a hitting coach in the Yankees’ system in 2019. She will now manage the Class A Tampa Tarpons.Credit. Photo Courtesy of Rachel Balkovec/Instagram.

The Yankees were late on introducing an African-American player to their roster, adding Hall of Famer Elston Howard to the team in 1955, eight years after Jackie Robinson starred for the Brooklyn Dodgers.  The Yankees seem determined not to repeat that bad history.  Last week, they announced that Rachel Balkovec will become the first woman to manage a team in minor league baseball when she takes the helm of the Tampa Tarpons this spring. 

It has been just over ten years since Justin Siegal threw batting practice to the Cleveland Guardians and five since she was the first woman to coach a MLB squad with the Oakland Athletics.  Two years ago, Kim Ng became the first female General Manager of any of the four major professional sports when the Marlins hired her to run their team.  In the two years since then, the dam has burst.  Women have been hired to important on-field positions with professional baseball at an impressive clip.  As baseball has lagged behind other professional sports in bringing women into the game, the current pace of hires indicates that baseball’s embrace of analytics and objective measures have finally penetrated the walls of one of the most enduring old boys clubs in the U.S. and given talented women opportunities they have long been denied.

Ten women will be coaching with major or minor league teams in 2022.  In 2021, Bianca Smith became the first African-American woman to coach in the minors when the Red Sox hired her. Alyssa Nakken became the first woman in uniform during a Major League Baseball game when she coached first base for the Giants in a July 2020 exhibition against the Oakland A’s.  Her jersey now belongs to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  Cuban-American Veronica Alvarez is not only the coach of the U.S. Women’s National Baseball team, she also served as a spring training coach for the Oakland A’s.

The proliferation of women in baseball is not an accident.  More girls than ever are playing baseball.  Here, in the DC area, 160 girls participated with D.C. Girls Baseball in 2021.  Baseball for All, an organization that supports and promotes girls in baseball, held a tournament last summer that drew nearly 600 girls who play baseball.  There are more women than ever on collegiate baseball rosters.  Major League Baseball has also devoted significant resources to girls and women in baseball, running several development camps for girls in baseball.  Six of the women now coaching professional baseball participated in MLB’s Take the Field initiative, which is designed to help place women into baseball positions. To top it all off, the classic film about the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, A League of Their Own, is getting a reboot on Amazon Prime this year.

The pace of hiring is exhilarating.  Unfortunately, every report of a woman being hired is followed by predictable hateful commentary on social media.  Many cannot imagine that a woman may be hired for a baseball position on merit and resort to making sexist and derogatory comments.  As women in baseball, the coaches are used to that vitriol and have developed thick skin and sophisticated defense mechanisms.  However, also reading are thousands of girls who are inspired by the achievements of these women and they are, sadly, learning that to achieve in baseball means enduring the sexist taunts, gross come-ons, and hurtful comments.

Baseball has a long way to go.  Other leagues have women officiating games, so it should be reasonable to expect that baseball will have women umpires in the near future.  The possibility of women playing professional baseball is tantalizingly close as 17 year old Genevieve Beacom made history last week as the first women to play Australian professional baseball, when she threw a scoreless inning against the Adelaide Giants.

We are watching a revolution in baseball unfold before our eyes. 

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Gus Kenworthy skis for Great Britain at 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics

The freestyle skiing Olympic medalist continues to advocate for sport to become a more accepting place for openly gay athletes

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Gus Kenworthy (Screenshot courtesy Beijing Olympic Winter Games/IOC)

Out British-American freestyle skier, actor, and YouTuber Gus Kenworthy, will be competing in his third Olympic Winter Games, but his first for Team GB next month for the 2022 Beijing Games. In 2014 and 2018 Kenworthy represented the USA where during the 2014 Sochi Winter Games in Russia he became an Olympic Silver Medalist.

In an interview recorded in December, Kenworthy stressed his personal mantra of ‘Let people be themselves.’ The freestyle skiing Olympic medalist continues to advocate for sport to become a more accepting place for openly gay athletes.

Having recently won bronze in slopestyle for Team USA at PyeongChang 2018, Kenworthy is aiming for another podium place at his “third and final Games”, where he’s focusing on halfpipe at Beijing 2022, representing Great Britain. Kenworthy said with quiet determination that this year’s Winter Games will be his last as an Olympic competitor.

Kenworthy joins a “record number” of openly LGBTQ+ athletes heading to the Beijing games, Outsports reported. The 2018 Winter Olympics featured 15 out queer athletes, and Outsports noted that the Beijing games will see more openly LGBTQ+ athletes than previously Winter Games.

PinkNewsUK notes that there was a question as to whether Kenworthy would be able to compete at the 2022 Winter Olympics, which kick off in February.

Just weeks ago, Kenworthy shared in an Instagram post that he recently got a “bad concussion” while at a training camp in Switzerland.

He explained that he’s had a “few serious” traumatic brain injuries in the past so the “seriousness of each added concussion has been stressed to me”.

 

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Out professional soccer player calls out ‘homophobic abuse’ from crowd

The Adelaide United player said he had “no words” to describe his disappointment at being the target of anti-gay insults from the crowd

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Photo courtesy of Josh Cavallo Instagram

Professional soccer player Josh Cavallo, who became the only openly gay top-flight male professional footballer last year, told his Instagram followers over the weekend that he experienced “homophobic abuse” during his last game. 

The Adelaide United player said he had “no words” to describe his disappointment at being the target of anti-gay insults from the crowd at AAMI Park during his team’s Saturday game against the Melbourne Victory.

“As a society it shows we still face these problems in 2022,” he wrote. “This shouldn’t be acceptable and we need to do more to hold these people accountable. Hate never will win. I will never apologise for living my truth and most recently who I am outside of football.”

Cavallo added that he was also targeted after the game online. 

“To @instagram I don’t want any child or adult to have to receive the hateful and hurtful messages that I’ve received,” he said. “I knew truely being who I am that I was going to come across this. It’s a sad reality that your platforms are not doing enough to stop these messages.”

The Australian Professional Leagues (APL) said it was “shocked and saddened” to hear Cavallo’s reports of “homophobic bullying,” according to the Guardian

“Our players, staff and fans have the right to feel safe on and off the pitch,” APL CEO Danny Townsend said. “There is no place for bullying, harassment or abuse in Australian football and we have zero tolerance for this harmful behaviour.”

The APL is working with both teams to investigate the incident, adding that sanctions will be issued to anyone involved. 

In a statement, Adelaide United Chief Executive Officer Nathan Kosmina said that the team was “appalled” at the “verbal abuse” that Cavallo received. 

“Adelaide United is proud to be an inclusive and diverse football club, and to see one of our players subjected to homophobic abuse is disappointing and upsetting,” he said. “Josh continues to show immense courage and we join him in calling out abuse, which has no place in society, and it will not be tolerated by our Club.”

The Melbourne Victory added that it “sees football as a platform to unite fans no matter what background. Spectators found to have breached these standards will be banned from future matches.”

At the end of his Instagram message, Cavallo thanked those sending him positive messages, love and support. 

“Love will always win,” he said. 

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