Team DC, Washington's support organization for LGBT sports leagues, will honor athletes and allies at its fourth annual awards reception, Saturday, Oct. 22.
The organization will offer three ''Champions Awards'' and recognize three openly gay student-athletes from the D.C. area with scholarships for their work to enhance the perception of LGBT athletes through their personal accomplishments.
''Anything that helps our community become stronger is good,'' says Brent Minor, Team DC program director. ''Unfortunately, there's still a stigma against the gay community in sports. But if you look at our teams, the stereotypes melt away immediately.''
The Champions Awards are the Most Valuable Player Award, Trailblazer Award and a Community Support Award. The recipients of the MVP Award, given to individuals who have made a significant contribution to their sport club over the past year, are Martin Espinoza of Stonewall Kickball and Christopher Cormier of the DC Gay Flag Football League.
Recipients of the Trailblazer Award, recognizing individuals who have worked for years to support and establish their teams and tournaments, are Brandon Waggoner of the DC Gay Flag Football League, and Phil Piga and Tony Watkins of Anywhere Goes, offering activities such as skiing, paintball and skydiving.
This year's Community Support Award goes to Town Danceboutique, a frequent sponsor of many area teams; and Hudson Taylor, the former three-time All-American wrestler from the University of Maryland who helped found Athlete Ally, providing resources to combat homophobia in sports.
The three recent high school graduates being honored are Jorge Acevedo, a swimmer from Wakefield High School in Arlington who now attends Northern Virginia Community College; Nate Eckland, a volleyball player from Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, who now attends Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.; and Justin Kanga, a track star and diver from Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring who now attends the University of Maryland.
The Team DC Champions Awards Reception is Saturday, Oct. 22, 6 to 8 p.m., at the HRC Equality Center, 1640 Rhode Island Ave. NW. For more information or to purchase tickets, $40, which include buffet and open bar, visit teamdc.org.