This year’s sold-out event at the Washington Hilton featured a visit from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who received the Champions Award for her advocacy in the LGBT sports community.
In addition to the community awards, Team D.C. awarded six college scholarships to local LGBT student-athletes. The Scholarship Program was created in 2008 with a goal to support openly out student-athletes and to educate and foster discussions with coaches and school administrators about the challenges facing LGBT athletes.
One of the scholarship recipients who spoke at the event was Claire Hutcheson, who rows crew at W.T. Woodson High School in Fairfax.
Her sports path started with competitive swimming which continued through her freshman year of high school. She switched over to rowing her sophomore year and earned a spot in the top varsity boat rowing 4s and 8s.
“Rowing is such a great team sport,” Hutcheson says. “You have four or eight people on the water together, several hours a day, up to six days a week. Even though it’s a great workout, it is also very calming.”
Hutcheson was out to her teammates but chose not to come out to her coach.
“One of my first girlfriends was on the team but I wasn’t sure if our coach would be accepting,” Hutcheson says. “Coming out to him felt too much like I was mixing my personal life with business.”
Hutcheson will attend College of William & Mary this fall with plans to major in international relations. She has already checked out the club rowing team and visited the boathouse at William & Mary. With her swimming background, she is also intrigued by the possibility of playing club water polo.
Attending the Night of Champions with her were her parents, John and Carolyn. She says they have been super supportive and were excited for her to receive the sports scholarship.
“It is a very niche, unique experience to be an LGBT athlete,” Hutcheson says. “I am excited to see how it translates on the college level. I know I have a good community waiting for me on the women’s crew team.”
“The reception from the high schools has risen over the years and they are now reaching out us directly,” says Brent Minor, executive director and founder of Team D.C. “LGBT students are aware of the scholarship as early as their freshman year and just waiting to apply. The comfort level of the counselors, educators and coaches has evolved and I think that is a direct result of more athletes coming out. It’s not a huge shock anymore for a gay person to be an athlete. Now that’s progress.”
This year’s Team D.C. College Scholarship recipients:
Reeves Gift, Chesapeake Math & IT Academy, Laurel, Md.; University of Southern California
Nakiyea Harris, Dunbar High School, Washington; undecided
Caroline Hill, T.C. Williams High School, Alexandria, Va.; Virginia Commonwealth University
Claire Hutcheson, W.T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, Va.; William and Mary University
Doratea Delback Macri, School Without Walls, Washington; University of California-Berkeley
Thea Shaw, Dunbar High School, Washington; Washington Adventist University
Along with the Mayor’s Award and the scholarship recipients, Team D.C. also recognized the following local LGBT sports community leaders:
Sharifa Love: Washington Furies Women’s Rugby Team
Jesse Anderson: D.C. Pride Gay Volleyball League
Bud Rorison: Capital Tennis Association
Les Johnson: Capital Area Rainbowlers Association
Balance Gym: support of the local sports community