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YEAR IN REVIEW 2014: Sports

From far-flung tournament wins to strong Gay Games showing, local leagues enjoy banner year

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LGBT sports, gay news, Washington Blade

 

LGBT sports, gay news, Washington Blade

Lucas Amodio of D.C. Aquatics Club wins the two-mile open water race at the 23rd annual Swim for life. (Washington Blade photo by Kevin Majoros)

It was another banner year for the LGBT sports community of Washington. The clubs have continued their steady growth and are the shining example of what a cohesive LGBT sports community can accomplish.

Twenty teams consisting of 270 players battled during season nine of the D.C. Gay Flag Football League in pursuit of the DCGFFL Super Bowl title. The TangerQueens (Orange) took out the Rear Admirals (Navy) in a score of 41-28 in the championship game.

LGBT sports, gay news, Washington Blade

TangerQueens (Orange) win the DCGFFL Super Bowl in season nine. (Washington Blade photo by Kevin Majoros)

Ski Bums spent 2014 looking for the best skiing and snowboarding powder around the United States and other parts of the world. Upcoming international trips in 2015 include Austria, Japan and Argentina. National trips to Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, Vermont, New Hampshire and New York are also being booked. This year’s D.C. day trip will be to Seven Springs, Pa.

Chesapeake and Potomac Softball sent three teams to the Gay Softball World Series in Dallas and continued to provide league play in the open division and women’s division. They hosted their annual MAGIC Tournament and traveled to New York City and Cleveland for more tournament action.

The D.C. Strokes Rowing Club continued with multiple rowing programs and hosted the 21st annual Stonewall Regatta bringing about 400 rowers to D.C. The Strokes continued to race sprints and head races through the season and had great success at regattas in Grand Rapids and Cleveland.

The Capital Tennis Association hosted Capital Classic XXII and several players traveled the Gay & Lesbian Tennis Alliance World Tour stops. The group continues to host 20 leagues across four seasons and was honored by the United States Tennis Association’s D.C. branch as the 2014 Community Program of the year.

The Federal Triangles Soccer Club continued to host its annual tournaments, the Women’s Indoor Cup, the Rehoboth Beach Classic and the Turkey Bowl along with the Summer of Freedom soccer league. The squads traveled to tournaments in New York and Ohio. This year’s United Night OUT at RFK Stadium drew about 500 fans.

United Night Out, gay news, Washington Blade

United Night Out (Washington Blade photo by Kevin Majoros)

Women’s full tackle football made its way into the LGBT sports community of D.C. with the Washington Prodigy becoming part of the Team D.C. Night OUT series. The Prodigy plays in the Independent Women’s Football League and competes against teams along the eastern seaboard.

The District of Columbia Aquatics Club drew about 230 swimmers to their open water race, the 23rd annual Swim for Life which also raises funds for those living with HIV/AIDS and the Chester River Association. The swimmers competed at meets throughout the region and capped off its year with a successful trip to Cleveland.

The Washington Scandals Rugby Club did a lot of traveling this past year going to events in Philadelphia, Atlanta and Chambersburg, Pa. Several team members partnered with another rugby team and headed to Sydney, Australia to compete in the Bingham Cup.

The D.C. Sentinels continue to host the Washington, D.C. Gay Basketball League along with pickup games twice a week. Members traveled the country playing in tournaments and picked up a win at the Coady Roundball Classic in Chicago.

Stonewall Sports offered league play in four different sports, Stonewall KickballStonewall BocceStonewall Darts and Stonewall Dodgeball. Combined, they are fast approaching 1,500 players.  Stonewall Kickball traveled to Las Vegas for tournament action and hosted its first tournament in July.

The Washington Wetskins water polo players hosted the Washington Wetskins Fall Invitational drawing teams from Richmond, Boston, New York and Montreal along with several local teams.  They also traveled to Cleveland for tournament action.

The D.C. Front Runners hosted the second annual Pride Run 5K drawing about 1,000 runners as part of the Capital Pride events. They continue to offer their walk, run and racing series and several of their runners competed throughout the region along with a trip to Cleveland.

LGBT sports, gay news, Washington Blade

The D.C. Front Runners performed a dance number following the Pride Run 5K. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Washington Renegades Rugby Football Club teams ended their fall season with the Blues squad finishing first in their division and making the playoffs for the fourth time in five years. The Reds squad finished second in their division and made the playoffs for the second time in its two year existence.

The Capital Area Rainbowlers Association continues to host nine fall/winter leagues along with three summer leagues. Along with hosting their annual Capital Holiday Invitational Tournament, the bowlers traveled the region competing in tournaments.

The biggest display of the prowess of the LGBT sports community of D.C. came at the 2014 Cleveland/Akron Gay Games where Team D.C. competed against more than 7,000 athletes from around the world and brought home 246 medals in 18 different sports.

Team DC, Cleveland Gay Games, gay news, Washington Blade

Team DC athletes medaled in 18 sports during last month’s Gay Games held in Cleveland/Akron. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Those sports were rowing, swimming, sailing, tennis, soccer, volleyball, basketball, track & field, figure skating, open water swimming, rock climbing, golf, cycling, racquetball, road running, squash, bowling and triathlon.

 

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Olympic champion Tom Daley ‘furious’ about bans on trans athletes

“Anyone that’s told that they can’t compete or can’t do something they love just because of who they are, it’s not ok”

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Tom Daley (Screenshot via Channel 4 UK)

Olympic diving champion Tom Daley said he is “furious” about FINA, the world swimming body, banning some transgender athletes from women’s swimming, diving, and other competitions. 

“Anyone that’s told that they can’t compete or can’t do something they love just because of who they are, it’s not OK,” Daley said to iNews at a press conference. “It’s something I feel really strongly about. Giving trans people the chance to share their side.”

Earlier this month, FINA released the new policy on eligibility, banning athletes who have experienced male puberty from women’s competitions.

FINA President Husain Al-Musallam said the new policy intended to protect athletes’ right to compete but also ensure competition fairness.

FINA intends to create an open category for athletes whose birth sex is different from their gender identity.

“This has not been done before, so FINA will need to lead the way. I want all athletes to feel included in being able to develop ideas during this process.” Al-Musallam said.

The new policy was condemned by the Human Rights Campaign, which said that requiring athletes to transition before age 12 was unrealistic and unlikely. States such as Alabama regulate young people’s access to age-appropriate gender-affirming care.

“This sudden and discriminatory decision is a blatant attack on transgender athletes who have worked to comply with longstanding policies that have allowed them to participate for years without issue,” said Joni Madison, HRC’s Interim President, “This policy is an example of swimming organizations caving to the avalanche of ill-informed, prejudiced attacks targeted at one particular transgender swimmer.”

The new policy will impact the career of trans swimmer Lia Thomas, the first trans woman to win a NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming Championship, and may prevent her from participating and competing in the female category.

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Sports

DC Aquatics Club swimmers reflect on world title win

Team took 125 gold medals en route to breaking 72 DCAC records

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The District of Columbia Aquatics Club sent 42 swimmers to the International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics world championships in Palm Springs, Calif. (Photo courtesy DCAC)

The District of Columbia Aquatics Club sent 42 swimmers to the International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics (IGLA) world championships in Palm Springs, Calif., in April on a mission to capture their first world title since 2013.

It was a long road back to international competition for the DCAC swimmers after the disruption of training and travel brought on by the worldwide pandemic.

When the team returned from IGLA in Melbourne, Australia in March of 2020, their training pools were closed, and all competitions were canceled.

By May they had established a training site in the South River in Annapolis where they swam until November of that year. Eventually, pools began to reopen, and the team was faced with battling for training time in COVID-restricted pools.

Following the postponement of the 2022 Gay Games in Hong Kong, the IGLA community scrambled to put together a competition in Palm Springs that would be hosted in tandem by West Hollywood Aquatics and the Long Beach Grunions. 

DCAC’s swimmers in Palm Springs consisted of a mix of veterans and rookies ranging in age from 22 to 76 years old. Each swimmer was eligible to enter five individual events and three relay events.

With 67 teams in attendance, DCAC jumped out to an early lead on day one in the large team category with West Hollywood Aquatics and San Francisco Tsunami in close pursuit. 

Despite the disqualifications of two of their winning relays for early takeoffs, DCAC held on to their lead over the remaining three days to claim their first world title in nine years.

Three DCAC swimmers, Grant Casey, Carmen Robb and Jerry Frentsos, won gold in all five of their individual events. In total, the team won 125 gold, 66 silver and 35 bronze medals en route to breaking 72 DCAC team records.

Addison Winger was a first time IGLA swimmer and hadn’t competed in 12 years. He had heard the tales from past IGLAs and wanted to join in on the fun.

“It was a great experience to compete for DCAC at an international competition. I had never been in a championship meet before where you go through the process of tapering, shaving, and suiting up in tech gear,” says Winger. “The relays were amazing, and I enjoyed taking advice and feedback from our coaches to incorporate into future races. It was also great spending quality team with my teammates outside of the pool.”

Olivia Kisker had competed with DCAC at IGLA Melbourne in 2020 and was looking forward to traveling with her team again.

“Even though the days were long at the pool, we still had time for Joshua Tree, the gondolas and all that Palm Springs has to offer,” Kisker says. “I love traveling and doing it with your teammates provides a setting for bonding and getting to know people better. I also enjoyed competing against my teammate Sarah. It’s like a friendship and a rivalry.”

Craig Franz restarted his post-COVID competitive swimming at IGLA Palm Springs and went on to a training camp and open water race in Hawaii this past month.

“The whole thing about this team is relationships and sharing swimming as a common denominator. The swim competitions legitimize building relationships and supporting each other in healthy ways,” say Franz. “Palm Springs felt like a more relaxed setting, and we needed this meet to rebuild the team. It provided a nutritional base for what we are about – swimming and friendships.”

Sarah Padrutt had not competed since 2019 and all the talk about past IGLAs prompted her to attend for the first time.

“I had so much fun, and it was cool having people cheering and being supported by teammates,” Padrutt says. “It was also a nice wakeup call, a reminder of how much I like competing. I like the pressure of racing and being on relays with my team. It was a very positive experience.”

Charles Cockrell has been a Masters swimmer for decades and is the chair of the Legislation Committee for United States Masters Swimming. He came out in 2019 and these championships marked his first time competing at IGLA.

“I wanted to compete at a swim meet that was a combination of the LGBTQ community and the sport of swimming. It was a fun, accepting and engaging environment,” says Cockrell. “The takeaway was that everyone was enjoying themselves and it was nice to be gathered together in a queer space. There was an atmosphere of camaraderie, and it was great being attached to a big team like DCAC.”

Coming up next for DCAC is the United States Masters Swimming Nationals in Richmond in August. Next year, the team will travel to London for the 2023 IGLA world championships to be held in the London Olympic Pool.

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Politics

Caitlyn Jenner celebrates FINA ban on Trans swimmers on Twitter

“[…] what’s fair is fair! If you go through male puberty you should not be able to take medals away from females. Period,” Jenner tweeted

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Screenshot/YouTube Fox News

Former Olympian and one-time California Republican gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner enraged Trans activists Monday after she tweeted her approval of the FINA vote Sunday that essentially bans Trans women from participating and competing as collegiate swimmers.

“It worked! I took a lot of heat – but what’s fair is fair! If you go through male puberty you should not be able to take medals away from females. Period,” Jenner tweeted Sunday after the international athletic organization announced its vote to ban trans athletes.

The Swimming’s world governing body voted to restrict transgender athletes from elite women’s competitions. The final vote tally of the representatives was 71.5% approval for the new policy which requires transgender athletes show that “they have not experienced any part of male puberty beyond Tanner Stage 2 or before age 12, whichever is later.”

“We have to protect the rights of our athletes to compete, but we also have to protect competitive fairness at our events, especially the women’s category at FINA competitions,” FINA’s president, Husain Al-Musallam, said in a statement.

The organisation is maintaining that it was necessary to use sex and sex-linked traits to determine eligibility criteria because of the “performance gap” that appears between males and females during puberty.

Jenner’s appearances on the Fox News Network over the past six months have been unrelenting attacks on Trans athletes, especially University of Pennsylvania Women’s Team swimmer Lia Thomas. Jenner also appeared on the network to defend her attacks on Trans athletes.

“We must protect women’s sports. We cannot bow down to the radical left wing woke world and the radical politically charged agenda of identity politics,” Jenner tweeted. In another tweet she said;

“Thank you @seanhannity and @HeyTammyBruce for having a conversation grounded in common sense. All we want to do is protect women’s and girls sports! It’s that simple. And calling out the libelous, defamatory lies of @PinkNews and @emilychudy@benjamincohen

Jenner has been asked about her position on the multiple pieces of anti-Trans youth sports legislation across the United States. She responded that she saw it as a question of fairness saying that she opposed biological boys who are Trans- competing in girls’ sports in school.

“It just isn’t fair,” Jenner said adding, “and we have to protect girls’ sports in our school.”

In April the Fox network hired Jenner as on-air contributor role with her first appearance on Hannity.

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