In the continuing Blade series on the rookies and veterans of the Washington-area LGBT sports teams, we look at the path of three gay athletes from the D.C. Sentinels basketball team.
While many find it hard to fit gym workouts into their schedule, it’s even harder to work designated team practices, league nights and tournaments into an already busy life.
For some it’s easier to play their way into the lifestyle by just going to practices with the hope that someday they will be able to join a league or play in a tournament.
Daniel Brewer grew up in Fayetteville, N.C., and played whatever sports were available to him but gravitated toward basketball, baseball and soccer. He moved to Fairfax in 2012 after he randomly took a nursing job at Inova Fairfax.
Brewer eventually moved to D.C. in 2013 and a friend asked him to come to the Thursday night open pick-up games with the Sentinels.
“There is a ‘come as you are’ feel to the pick-up games,” Brewer says. “It’s a place where first time players or even the best players can co-exist.”
A career move to Georgetown University Hospital and graduate school has delayed his plans to go further with the team.
“I haven’t played in the league or at any tournaments yet because of my work and school schedule,” Brewer says. “The more you play, the more you want to commit to all of it. But for now I am happy with the pick-up games and developing new friendships.”
Robert Perkins traveled to a basketball tournament in Chicago to play on a friend’s team from another city and when he returned to D.C., a player from the Sentinels who had also been in Chicago recognized him at the Fireplace and invited him to play with the team.
Growing up in South Carolina, Perkins played recreational baseball but found that he was better at basketball. He moved to D.C. in 2011 to take a position as store manager at Walgreens.
“When I first joined the Sentinels, the other players were trying to size me up so I had to prove myself,” Perkins says. “It was good for me because it brought me out of my shell and made me more social.”
Now that Perkins has played in four tournaments and the D.C. Gay Basketball League that is run by the Sentinels, he feels a responsibility to work with the rookie players.
“Everyone has good days and bad days at practice.” Perkins says. “It’s important to encourage them to keep playing and to keep coming back.”
This past January, Perkins was on a travel team that played at a National Gay Basketball Association tournament in San Diego and he was not pleased with their outcome.
“I felt even more responsibility after that tournament in San Diego,” Perkins says. “I might be relocating soon, but I will continue to play with the Sentinels travel team because I want more for them.”
Opelousas, La., is home to Paul Prince and he grew up playing recreational baseball and tennis. In high school he focused on band and cheerleading and later he was a walk-on to the tennis team at Grambling State University.
He had some interaction with the Sentinels in 2006 during a brief living arrangement in D.C. when a tennis friend suggested he come with him to play basketball. Prince’s career in public affairs for the Army uprooted him to cities around the country until he settled back in D.C. in 2011 and again joined the Sentinels.
“I found myself pretty gung-ho about the mission of the Sentinels and I wanted to further their cause by being on the board.” Prince says. “There is a big need to build organizations like the Sentinels which offer the chance to play sports and to meet people outside of the bar scene.”
Even though Prince has played in three tournaments and has captained a team in the league, he still finds comfort in the big brother mentality of the more veteran players.
“There are times when I am very competitive and try to play beyond my abilities,” Prince says. “It’s nice to have the veterans there to help you fulfill your capabilities.”
The Sentinels have some new faces, both straight and gay from a recent four-on-four tournament they hosted during Pride and are hoping to send travel teams to upcoming tournaments in Philadelphia and Dallas.
“The bottom line is that it is not just basketball,” Prince says. “There are other things that come from this, like getting to know these guys.”
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”
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.
DC Aquatics Club swimmers reflect on world title win
Team took 125 gold medals en route to breaking 72 DCAC records
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.
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
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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