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Rookies & Vets: Washington Prodigy

Local women’s football team enjoying winning season



Washington Prodigy, gay news, Washington Blade
Washington Prodigy, gay news, Washington Blade

Washington Prodigy players Aisha Sandidge, left, and Bukola Landis-Aina, on the field at the game against the Baltimore Nighthawks last weekend which they won 14-0 (Photo by Kevin Majoros)

The Washington Prodigy is a full-tackle, local women’s football team that’s a member of the Independent Women’s Football League. It was formed in 2012 and its 2-0 two games into its current season.

This week in the ongoing Blade series spotlighting rookies and veterans in local sports leagues, we shine a light on two LGBT players on the Prodigy team.

Aisha Sandidge grew up in Fort Washington and played soccer along with a year of track & field in high school. Her football career began while she was attending Drexel University where she took up intramural flag football.

After moving back to the D.C. area in 2010, she joined a co-ed flag football league and by the end of 2011 was playing in a women’s league. Sandidge had a few friends on the Prodigy who were encouraging her to join, but she wasn’t ready to commit.

“This year I wanted to try something different and do something new,” Sandidge says. “Once I met more of the players on the team, I knew it was the right choice.”

Sandidge went out for tryouts in November of 2015 and the subsequent player and coach camps. Her position is wide receiver and so far in the first two games of her rookie season, she has only played on special teams. She knows the time will come when she will get more game time.

“More than one-third of the players this year are rookies and when we started practicing, you couldn’t feel the difference between the rookies and veterans,” Sandidge says. “I’ve been on other teams where the rookies get pushed aside. I don’t feel that with the Prodigy.”

Sandidge, who works in the construction industry as a project engineer, says she is “itching to get in there” and for now she is enjoying the give and take between the players.

“Playing football is a great stress reliever for me,” Sandidge says. “I want to challenge myself to be a better athlete and a better person.”

Veteran player Bukola Landis-Aina is one of the original players on the team and isn’t looking to retire anytime soon. There are too many things about the game that are still keeping her engaged.

“When I am playing, I feel like there is nothing else going on in the world,” Landis-Aina says. “If I got stagnant, I would be less interested but I am still getting better.”

Born in Philadelphia, Landis-Aina grew up playing basketball, volleyball and softball. Her parents ended her sports participation in high school in hopes that she would make it to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

She more than made it. Landis-Aina completed her degree in chemical engineering at MIT while being a member of the varsity track & field team specializing in shot put and the hammer throw. She followed that up with a law degree from New York University.

After moving to D.C. in 2006 to work in patent litigation, Landis-Aina joined a co-ed flag football league, segued to a women’s league and then to full-contact football. She spent two-and-a-half years with the D.C. Divas and one year with the Baltimore Nighthawks until the Prodigy was formed in 2012. She is also still playing flag football.

“Playing for me is all about physically pushing myself as an athlete,” Landis-Aina says. “I also love the team camaraderie and the feeling of having my teammate’s backs.”

Landis-Aina, who plays center and multiple offensive line positions, was a captain last year and enjoys the responsibilities of being one of the veteran players.

“I feel that need to step up, be on time, be a leader in drills, you know, the front of the line,” Landis-Aina says. “I want to be there to uplift my teammates.”

With their season getting off to such a great start, the players are aiming to keep their winning streak alive this weekend against the New York Sharks at Wilson High School. On May 14, Team D.C. will showcase the Washington Prodigy in its Night OUT series as they take on the Carolina Phoenix.

“This is a team with no negative energy,” Landis-Aina says. “We stand together and we will rise and fall together.”

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Las Vegas Raiders head coach resigns after homophobic emails surface

Discovery made during misconduct investigation into the Washington Football Team



Courtesy of ESPN

LAS VEGAS — The head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, Jon Gruden resigned his post Monday after an article in the New York Times reported that he frequently used misogynistic and homophobic language directed at Commissioner Roger Goodell and others in the National Football League, (NFL).

The emails were discovered in a workplace misconduct investigation into the Washington Football Team the Times reported, but ended up costing Gruden his job when they also showed Gruden denounced the drafting of a gay player and the tolerance of players protesting during the playing of the national anthem among other issues.

In a statement released by the team late Monday, Gruden said; “I have resigned as Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone.”

The sequence of events started last Friday when the Wall Street Journal reported that Gruden used a racist term to describe NFL union chief DeMaurice Smith in a 2011 email to the Washington team’s former executive Bruce Allen.

According to the Associated Press, Gruden apologized for his “insensitive remarks” about Smith, saying they were made out of frustration over the 2011 lockout. But the latest emails sent from between 2011-18 when Gruden was an analyst for ESPN show his use of derogatory language went well beyond that.

A league source confirmed the accuracy of the emails to the Associated Press and said they were sent to the Raiders last week. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the league hasn’t made the emails public.

The New York Times and the Associated Press both noted that Gruden used a gay slur to insult Goodell and said he was “clueless” and “anti-football.” He also said Goodell shouldn’t have pressured the Rams to draft “queers,” a reference to Michael Sam, who was the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team.

Gruden’s abrupt resignation was announced live on the Colts/Ravens “Monday Night Football” broadcast when the NFL ran multiple LGBTQ-inclusive advertisements, including one featuring an NFL logo wrapped in the colors of the Trans Flag and Rainbow Flag Gay City News Editor Matt Tracy reported.

Raiders owner Mark Davis issued a statement which only said that he accepted Gruden’s resignation. In a separate statement the Raiders announced that special teams and assistant head coach Rich Bisaccia will serve as Interim Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, effective immediately.

“Coach Bisaccia will meet with the media at the regularly scheduled media availability on Wednesday,” the team said.

According to ESPN and the Associated Press, Bisaccia has been a special teams coordinator in the NFL for 19 seasons with the Raiders, Chargers, Dallas and Tampa Bay. He has no head coaching experience but his elevation will allow other assistants in the Raiders organization such as defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to stay in their current roles.

Jon Gruden resigns as Raiders head coach | SC with SVP

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New Zealand university names trans athlete ‘sportswoman of the year’

Laurel Hubbard is first out trans woman to compete in Olympics



Screenshot via CBS Sports

DUNEDIN, New Zealand — Olympic weightlifter Laurel Hubbard was named “sportswoman of the year” at the prestigious 113-year-old University of Otago and OUSA Blues and Golds Awards event this past week.

The 43-year-old Queenstown, South Island, native was the first openly transgender woman to compete in an Olympics when she competed in the women’s 87kg weightlifting event at the 2021 Tokyo Games.

In a statement to the local newspaper, the Otago Daily Times, Hubbard said she was ‘‘grateful for all of the support and kindness received from the teaching staff and students at Otago University.’’

‘‘It is not possible for athletes to complete at the Olympic level without the encouragement and aroha [a Māori word meaning “love”] of friends, family and supporters.

‘‘This award belongs to everyone who has been part of my Olympic journey,’’ she told the paper.

Hubbard’s participation at the Tokyo Games had provoked controversy as she had prepared for competing as the world’s first out transgender woman Olympian. The director of medicine and science for the International Olympic Committee, Dr. Richard Budgett, directly addressed those who had attacked and mocked the New Zealander and claimed she shouldn’t be competing with cisgender women, saying  “everyone agrees that trans women are women.”

“To put it in a nutshell,” he said, “the IOC had a scientific consensus back in 2015. There are no IOC rules or regulations around transgender participation. That depends on each international federation. So Laurel Hubbard is a woman, is competing under the rules of her federation and we have to pay tribute to her courage and tenacity in actually competing and qualifying for the Games.”

Otago University Students’ Association president Michaela Waite-Harvey told the Otago Daily Times that the Blues awards aim to highlight Otago students excelling in their chosen sport.

‘‘We could think of no-one more worthy of sportswoman of the year than Laurel Hubbard who represented Otago and New Zealand incredibly well at this year’s Tokyo Olympics.’’

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Gold medalist Tom Daley battled COVID in hospital prior to Tokyo games

An x-ray revealed “blotches” on his lungs, and he was kept at the hospital for 10 hours to increase his oxygen levels



Tom Daley (Photo by via Bigstock)

LONDON – British Olympic champion diver Tom Daley acknowledged in an recent interview with British newspaper The Times, that he had been secretly rushed to hospital seven months prior to the summer Tokyo Olympic games after contracting the coronavirus.

Daley told the paper “[my] lungs felt pressurised, as if they had sacks of rice around them”, and added: “Every time I stood up, I felt the room spinning and a blinding white light, as if I was going to faint, and as if I couldn’t get enough oxygen into my body.”

He went on to describe his ordeal in graphic details telling Times journalist Jane Mulkerrins that he gave specific instructions to his husband, screenwriter D. Lance Black one night as he headed off to sleep, what to do in the event he quit breathing.

He also told Mulkerrins he was frightened for their son Robbie if he and his husband both contracted the COVID-19 coronavirus, especially after he was rushed to hospital by ambulance unable to breath correctly.

When his head began to feel like it had “a vice tightening around it” and his “oxygen levels were dropping,” it was at that point Daley said he decided to call 111. [The UK’s emergency phone number]

‘My oxygen levels were dropping’

He was rushed to hospital in an ambulance and put on oxygen. An x-ray revealed “blotches” on his lungs, and he was kept at the hospital for 10 hours to increase his oxygen levels, The Times reported.

“I understood how quickly things could potentially go downhill,” said Daley.

“I had flashes of fear about whether I would be put on a ventilator, and my time being up. I was really terrified.”

He also described his reasons for keeping his ordeal secret so that his rivals in his sport wouldn’t know.

The episode kept the Olympian diver out of training for nearly seven months although Daley along with his British teammate diving partner Matty Lee won the gold with a score of 471.81 in the men’s synchronized diving on at the Tokyo 2021 games.

After tough competition in the Men’s 10m platform diving from China’s Cao Yuan who picked up the Gold Medal and his teammate Yang Jian cinching the number two spot with a Silver Medal, the 27-year-old Daley secured a Bronze Medal win with a score of 548.25.

It was the second Olympic Bronze Medal for the Plymouth, England native, in individual diving completion since he won bronze at the London Games in 2012. Daley and his teammate Daniel Goodfellow won a Bronze Medal in the 10m synchronised at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

The Times interview comes as the paper’s magazine is serializing Daley’s new book, Coming Up for Air: What I Learned from Sport, Fame and Fatherhood, which is due to be published by Harper Collins on October 14.

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