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New Rogue Darts league draws hundreds

Group offers competition, fun and philanthropy



Rogue Darts, gay news, washington blade

From left are Tommy Rossman, Austin Henderson and Ralph Alston, co-founders of Rogue Darts. (Photo by John Jack Photography; used with permission)

Earlier this year, Stonewall Darts disappeared from the LGBT sports community in the District. It was part of the D.C.-based Stonewall Sports organization that offers kickball, bocce, dodgeball, billiards, climbing and yoga.

The rumors were formed quickly that the league had been kicked out of the group or that there were personality conflicts. Even the new name, Rogue Darts, could be perceived as a diss.

“I cannot convey with more sincerity that the name was not meant to be a stab in the eye. There were hundreds of names tossed around and we spent weeks deciding what it would be,” says Austin Henderson, founder of Stonewall Darts and co-founder of Rogue Darts. “We respect Stonewall Sports and will continue to have a relationship with them.”

Henderson was among the first players in the inaugural Stonewall Kickball league in 2010 and the first Stonewall Bocce league in 2011. He was working as a bartender at MOVA when the idea came to launch Stonewall Darts in the bar’s back room. The first season in 2013 drew 72 players.

There was immediate success with growth resulting in a move to Diego and eventually to Cobalt in 2015. Demand was so high that members formed an offseason league at Nellie’s called Tuesday Night Flights.

For those first few years, all the Stonewall leagues were operating independently. With the Stonewall expansion to other cities and the formation of Stonewall Dodgeball in 2014, a governance structure was put in place with a national board under the name Stonewall Sports.

Stonewall Darts officially joined the organization and made changes to follow the new governance structure and expansion policy. In March, its members informed Stonewall Sports that they had decided to separate themselves and rebrand as Rogue Darts.

“We have similar purpose and interest with Stonewall Sports, but we wanted to be independent,” Henderson says. “This will allow us to be proactive and reactive to the needs of the dart players.”

Rogue Darts rolled out this summer with 336 players on 56 teams playing on Thursday nights at Cobalt. Registration for the winter season opens on Dec. 4 for returning players and the following day for new players.

Along with the summer and winter leagues under the Rogue Darts name, they continue to run the offshoot league, Tuesday Night Flights, at Nellie’s in the spring and fall. Both leagues utilize steel tip darts and the game of Cricket.

At 336 players, they have increased the number of boards, walls and physical space to foster more growth. One thing that continues to be a struggle is coming up with 56 distinct colors for the team shirts.

“We have to utilize different shirt brands to come up with varying hues. The sorting process is crazy,” says Henderson. “Last summer’s most interesting color name was heather apricot.”

One of the unique things for Rogue is that sponsorship for the league is built-in since they are playing in bars. It opens them up to looking for sponsorship outside of the food and beverage industry such as the support they receive from the Tom Buerger Team.

Registration for the league is $50 per player and Rogue Darts is currently giving $60 per player to charities chosen by the teams.

This season, the dart leagues will surpass $150,000 in charitable giving to local nonprofits over the past five years. Rogue has added two new board members including a director of education to take them to the next level in engaging their charities.

“This started out to introduce a new sport to the LGBT community and it has turned into something that is bigger than myself,” Henderson says. “It is an amazing opportunity for social connections and to have a positive impact on the community.”

Coming up for Rogue Darts is continued branding efforts, enhancements to the player experience and a possible expansion to Northern Virginia. Henderson speaks to the draw of playing in a dart league.

“Our demographics are broad, and we attract a varied sampling from the LGBT community. Not everyone is physically capable of playing some of the other sports, but they can throw darts. Any one of our players can have that ‘sports moment’ night when they can hit bullseyes. We offer a fun experience with a philanthropy twist.”

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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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