Rory Molleda knew growing up that he wanted to work in professional sports. He spent his youth attending D.C. United games and right out of college, he landed an internship with the organization. Six months later, he was offered the position of team coordinator and his lifelong dream came true.
Molleda was born in Venezuela and grew up in a soccer family. His father was a professional soccer player in Spain and Venezuela and his mother played soccer at Virginia Tech. When he was 5, the family moved to Alexandria, Va.
Except for a short stint in ice hockey, his main sport was soccer and he was part of a travel team playing year-round by age 10. When it came time for college, he ended up picking Guilford College, a small liberal arts school in North Carolina.
“It was big switch for me after attending high school at Robinson which has 4,500 students. Guilford has an enrollment of 1,200 and 30 percent of the students are athletes,” Molleda says. “The campus has a hippie feel and it was like living in a bubble. It’s different from the rest of North Carolina.”
Molleda, who plays left midfielder and left wing, didn’t get a lot of game time during his first two years at Guilford. His time spent on the bench didn’t detract from what it meant to him to be part of a team.
“It was great to contribute as a player my last two years,” Molleda says. “But it was those first two years, traveling with the team; it meant just as much to not play.”
He says he had great support from his family who came to games, with his mom often coaching him from the sidelines. During his senior year, his sister began her four-year stint playing soccer for Hofstra University.
After graduating with a sports management and Spanish double major in 2013, he moved back to the area and began his internship with D.C. United in operations, assisting with youth soccer tournaments. He sent his resume out to 60 organizations before the offer came from United. He coordinates the logistics of team travel.
“My office is in the locker room and I get to hang out with professional athletes every day,” Molleda says. “I am also traveling with the team once a month and am the person responsible for setting the players up to succeed in their away games. It’s very rewarding.”
As for his own soccer career, he began playing soccer with Metro Sports shortly after arriving back in the D.C. area. In 2016, he spotted the LGBT-based Federal Triangles Soccer Club at Capital Pride and signed up for a couple of their teams in the District Sports leagues. This past summer he played in their Summer of Freedom league for the first time.
“I didn’t come out until after college and I had no idea that gay soccer was a thing,” Molleda says. “It is special to have so much in common with a group of people. Joining the Federal Triangles has had a positive impact on me and has changed my life.”
Along with playing several nights a week with the Triangles, Molleda also gets to play soccer at work once a week with office workers, trainers and coaches. He initially struggled with what it meant to be gay in the world of professional sports but has taken some inspiration from openly gay LA Galaxy player Robbie Rogers.
“A co-worker asked about the HRC sticker on my car and I lied,” Molleda says. “Since that moment I don’t live in fear anymore. I am just living my life and doing the things I want to do.”
Molleda says that making an announcement at work would be a distraction from the team and he prefers to let it happen naturally. Recently three United players walked by while he was in line at Nellie’s Sports Bar and they just waved and said, “Hey.”
“There have been support moments, especially from Ben Olsen (United head coach), and I consider that a good affirmation of acceptance,” Molleda says. “We all want normalcy in our sports environment and I am incredibly happy to be a part of this team.”