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Local gay coaches find support from students, parents

‘Building trust holds the relationship together’

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Brendan Roddy, coaches, gay news, Washington Blade
Brendan Roddy, gay coaches, gay news, Washington Blade

Brendan Roddy began coaching swimming at age 14 and currently coaches at an area high school. (Washington Blade photo by Kevin Majoros)

With the LGBT sports movement receiving more national media attention over the past several years, there have been multiple headlines about coaches coming out as gay to their teams. Some of the names that have made the news are high school basketball coach Anthony Nicodemo in Philadelphia and high school track coach Micah Porter of Denver.

In the D.C. metro area, there are a number of LGBT coaches who have been instructing straight athletes for years, even decades. When asked what the obstacles have been for them, the answers offer some surprises.

The relationship between a coach and an athlete is a special one and often the coach becomes a surrogate parent to the athlete and a good friend to the athlete’s family. The announcements of the above mentioned coaches certainly prompted many to wonder if the relationship between a coach and an athlete is different if a gay coach is instructing a group of straight athletes.

Brendan Roddy began swimming competitively at age 11 and continued to do so through college at Salisbury State University. As a 14-year-old he became a junior swim coach for Rockville Montgomery Swim Club and then coached at Salisbury State University during grad school.

After returning to the area as a teacher at Churchill High School, Roddy realized he missed coaching and became the swimming and diving coach at the high school.

“Parents that are ‘with it’ caught on quickly that I was gay,” says Roddy. “The others figured it out eventually. The kids would generally test the waters with pronouns when asking about my personal life. If they asked directly, I would tell them.”

Roddy says that his sexual orientation rarely comes up in conversations with his athletes or their parents and it has never stood in the way of his coaching.

“Building a level of trust and respect is what holds the athlete/coach relationship together,” says Roddy. “It is amazing how much kids have evolved over the past decade. The smiles on their faces are what keeps me in it.”

Jeff Nolt began his figure skating career in New York and as it progressed, trained in Pennsylvania and Delaware. In the early 1980s, he qualified for nationals as a pairs team with his sister Susan. Following their retirement from competitive skating, they performed in the Ice Capades for two years.

Nolt started coaching in Syracuse and eventually his work brought him to the Baltimore/Washington area. His students range in age from six to 60.

“The parents of my students trust who I am and there is no fear of me being gay,” Nolt says.  “The bottom line is that I get paid to teach people how to skate choreographically and technically correct. Kids can smell you a mile away; if you are unprepared and have doubts about yourself, the respect and trust will never come.”

He adds, “I like being a mentor. It is exciting to know that I can have an impact on someone’s life and it is important for me to give back what I have learned.”

Sami Holtz grew up in Montgomery County and began competing in soccer and swimming at age eight. She eventually changed over to softball and took on rugby during her college years at Johnson and Wales and Springfield College. She also played full-contact football in the Independent Women’s Football League.

She began coaching swimming in New England, which led to a coaching position in the Montgomery County Swim League in 2007. She is now coaching swimming at Forest Knolls and the Silver Spring YMCA.

“In the community I work in, nobody cares that I am gay,” says Holtz. “The only discrimination I have encountered was related to my religious beliefs.”

Holtz says that one of her swimmers has two moms and another teenage swimmer recently came out as gay.

“His mother thought it would be nice if we connected at Capital Pride this past June,” Holtz says laughing.

Akil Patterson was a three-sport, all-state athlete during his years at Frederick High School and went on to play football at the University of Maryland. He left the Terps and played two years at California University of Pennsylvania.

He later played for the United Indoor Football League. After an Arena Football tryout his weight ballooned to 380 pounds and he ended up back on the University of Maryland campus where a wrestling coach asked him to work with their heavyweights.

He went on to become a coach with the Terps wrestling program and the Terrapin Wresting Club (TWC).  The TWC provides training and competitive opportunities for the wrestling community and for post-collegiate wrestlers who have international aspirations. They are an official Regional Olympic Training Center of USA Wrestling.

Patterson coaches athletes who range in age from 13 to 22 and says that his sexual orientation is also a non-issue.

“I know that some people trash talk me behind my back for being gay, but I am not ashamed and I am not shy,” says Patterson. “Anyone that knows me knows that I am all about the athletes.  I love my kids.”

Patterson has developed trusting and respectful relationships with his athletes and their families over the years. He has been asked by parents to step in when their children are not doing well in school.

“I have an athlete whose father is with the U.S. Marshals and he volunteered to speak at diversity training for the Marshals,” says Patterson. “When he stepped up to the microphone he simply stated; my son loves his coach and my son looks up to his coach.”

Patterson adds, “I believe that one’s sexuality transcends sports.”

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DC Center to host Alzheimer’s awareness event

‘Seniors & Cognition’ talk to explore warning signs, healthy brain practices

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The DC LGBTQ+ Community Center, the DC Department on Aging and Community Living, and the Alzheimer’s Association are joining forces to host “Seniors & Cognition with the Alzheimer’s Association” on Thursday, July 25 at 2 p.m. on Zoom. 

Guest speakers will walk the audience through understanding Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, their warning signs, healthy brain practices, and more. The lecture series will consist of three 1.5-hour sessions, with the others set to take place in August and September. 

To register, visit the DC Center’s website

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Sports

Brittney Griner and wife celebrate birth of their son

Cherelle Griner gave birth to healthy baby boy earlier this month

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Brittney Griner (Screen capture via Instagram)

It’s a boy for Brittney and Cherelle Griner. The Phoenix Mercury center revealed the news in interviews with CBS Sports and NBC News. 

“Every minute I feel like he’s popping into my head, said Griner. “Literally everything revolves around him. And I love it.”

The couple officially welcomed the baby boy on July 8. He weighs 7 pounds, 8 ounces.

“That’s my man. He is amazing,” Griner told CBS Sports. “They said as soon as you see them, everything that you thought mattered just goes out the window. That’s literally what happened.” 

Griner, 33, corrected the CBS News correspondent who said, “You’re about to be a mom!” She told her Cherelle, 33, had already delivered the baby and that she preferred to be called,“Pops.” 

Griner told NBC News correspondent Liz Kreutz they chose to name their newborn son, “Bash.” 

The WNBA star said she is Bash’s biggest fan and is constantly taking photos of him. “My whole phone has turned into him now,” Griner told CBS Sports.

The baby comes as Griner gets set to play in Saturday’s WNBA All-Star Game and then head to Paris with Team USA to compete for their 8th straight gold medal at the Summer Olympic Games. 

“It kind of sucks because I have to leave, but at the same time, he will understand,” said Griner. 

Her time in Paris will mark the first time since the basketball star was released from a Russian gulag, where she was held on drug charges for nearly 10 months in 2022.

“BG is locked in and ready to go,” Griner told NBC News on Friday. “I’m happy, I’m in a great place. I’m representing my country, the country that fought for me to come back. I’m gonna represent it well.”

Griner also spoke with NBC News about her hopes the U.S. can win the freedom of imprisoned Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who was sentenced to 16 years in a Russian maximum security prison on Friday. 

“We have to get him back,” she said. 

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Calendar

Calendar: July 19-25

LGBTQ events in the days to come

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Friday, July 19

“Center Aging Friday Tea Time” will be at 2 p.m. on Zoom. This is a social hour for older LGBTQ+ adults. Guests are encouraged to bring a beverage of choice. For more details, email [email protected].

Go Gay DC will host “LGBTQ+ Community Happy Hour” at 7 p.m. at Puro Gusto. This event is ideal for making new friends, professional networking, idea-sharing, and community building. This event is free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

Saturday, July 20

Go Gay DC will host “LGBTQ+ Community Brunch” at 11 a.m. at Freddie’s Beach Bar & Restaurant. This fun weekly event brings the DMV area LGBTQ+ community, including allies, together for delicious food and conversation. Attendance is free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

“LGBTQ People of Color Support Group” will be at 1 p.m. on Zoom. This peer support group is an outlet for LGBTQ People of Color to come together and talk about anything affecting them in a space that strives to be safe and judgment free. For more details, visit thedccenter.org/poc or facebook.com/centerpoc.

Sunday, July 21

Go Gay DC will host “LGBTQ+ Dinner” at 6:30 p.m. at Federico Ristorante Italiano Freddie’s Beach Bar & Restaurant. Guests are encouraged to come enjoy an evening of Italian-style dining and conversation with other LGBTQ+ folk. Attendance is free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

Go Gay DC will host “LGBTQ+ Funday Social and Games” at 3 p.m. at Moxy. This event is ideal for making meaningful new connections and informal community building, or just to unwind and enjoy the group happy hour. There will be Monopoly, chess, checkers, Jenga and many other games. Attendance is free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

AfroCode DC will be at 4 p.m. at Decades DC. This event will be an experience of non-stop music, dancing, and good vibes and a crossover of genres and a fusion of cultures. Tickets cost $40 and can be purchased on Eventbrite.

Monday, July 22

Center Aging: Monday Coffee & Conversation will be at 10 a.m. on Zoom. This is a social hour for older LGBTQ adults. Guests are encouraged to bring a beverage of their choice. For more details, email [email protected].

“Queer Book Club” will be at 6:30 p.m. on Zoom. The club meets on the fourth Monday of the month to discuss queer books by queer authors. This month’s read is yet to be announced. For more details, email [email protected].

Tuesday, July 23

Pride on the Patio Events will host “LGBTQ Social Mixer” at 5:30 p.m. at Showroom. Dress is casual, fancy, or comfortable. Guests are encouraged to bring their most authentic self to chat, laugh, and get a little crazy. Admission is free and more details are on Eventbrite.

Coming Out Discussion Group will be at 7 p.m. on Zoom. This is a peer-facilitated discussion group and a safe space to share experiences about coming out and discuss topics as it relates to doing so. For more details, visit the group’s Facebook page.

“Genderqueer DC” will be at 7 p.m. on Zoom. This is a support group for people who identify outside of the gender binary, whether you’re bigender, agender, genderfluid, or just know that you’re not 100% cis. For more details, email [email protected].

Wednesday, July 24

Job Club will be at 6 p.m. on Zoom. This is a weekly job support program to help job entrants and seekers, including the long-term unemployed, improve self-confidence, motivation, resilience and productivity for effective job searches and networking — allowing participants to move away from being merely “applicants” toward being “candidates.” For more information, email [email protected] or visit thedccenter.org/careers.

“Asexual and Aromantic Group” will meet at 7 p.m. on Zoom and in person at the DC Center for the LGBT Community. This is a space where people who are questioning this aspect of their identity or those who identify as asexual and/or aromantic can come together, share stories and experiences, and discuss various topics. For more details, email [email protected].

Thursday, July 25

Virtual Yoga with Charles M. will be at 7 p.m. on Zoom. This is a free weekly class focusing on yoga, breath work, and meditation. For more details, visit the DC Center for the LGBT Community’s website.

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