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Tournament time

Players from Philadelphia, Cleveland, et. al. expected in D.C.



Stonewall Sports National Tournament, gay news, Washington Blade

Players from many different sports will gather this weekend in Washington for the Stonewall Sports National Tournament. D.C. members, seen here, are active in the LGBT sports world. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The fourth annual Stonewall Sports National Tournament will be held this weekend at locations throughout D.C. including the National Mall. Along with sports tournaments in kickball, dodgeball and volleyball, a full schedule is planned with social activities, leadership meetings, Stonewall Yoga, Stonewall Bocce pick-up games and pool parties.

The Stonewall Sports model has spread to 11 cities in the United States and close to 1,000 competitors from those cities will be in attendance for the tournaments. Non-participant passes are also available for those who want to join in on the festivities.

Since its inception in 2010, D.C.–based Stonewall Sports has provided sports leagues that are managed as a nonprofit with a philanthropic heart by creating organized communities that have the ability and responsibility to support others in need.

“In addition to the sports competitions, the National Tournament brings together our Stonewall community from across the country to address issues in person,” says James O’Leary, vice president of Stonewall Sports. “We will hold our annual meeting with workshops on the technical aspects of community building and programming along with having conversations about safe spaces, diversity, public health and inclusion.”

The safe spaces that once existed within the LGBT community have evolved and Stonewall Sports has established a national network that allows for like-minded people to connect.

“The National Tournament is a chance for all of the Stonewall cities to get together and talk about our vision and the avenues to reach our community,” O’Leary says. “We have established a network of people that have a similar path.”

Stonewall Philadelphia joined the Stonewall community in 2014 and its members have seen incredible expansion in their sports and numbers. Currently boasting over 1,200 participants, they offer kickball, dodgeball, volleyball, sand volleyball, billiards, yoga and bowling. They have donated about $100,000 to local charities since their inception.

“When I first started playing, I immediately began meeting a lot people who I wouldn’t have met otherwise,” says Stonewall Philadelphia Commissioner Joe Peltzer. “It’s a great opportunity to have fun, establish connections and raise money for charities. I love watching our players jumping into different friend groups.”

Peltzer says that the Philadelphia players are really looking forward to building new connections from other cities and that the teams are melding together to come to the tournament. They will be sending about eight teams to compete in kickball and dodgeball.

“The tournament is about competitive play, but we also look forward to the camaraderie and learning about what other cities are doing,” Peltzer says. “It elevates it above what is going on in your own little bubble.”

In the fall of 2015, Stonewall Cleveland launched its kickball league, which was immediately followed by the addition of dodgeball. The two leagues have about 465 players and in two weeks they will be joined by an additional 165 players in their inaugural bocce season.

“After launching, we were plugged in instantly to several hundred people of varying age groups,” says Taylor Henschel, co-commissioner of Stonewall Cleveland. “This is more than an LGBT community. It’s place making; creating intentional communities by drawing in your own people along with other people.”

Cleveland is a sprawling city and Henschel says it is easy to get stuck in your local sector. The Stonewall model has helped to connect people from the widespread areas. They will be sending five teams to the National Tournament.

“The value of this network is something larger than yourself. It gives life purpose,” Henschel says. “Meeting people from all over the country is a reminder that we are part of this enormous community of queer people. It’s pretty profound.”

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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.



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



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



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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