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Coming Out to Play

Coming Out to Play is a Must-Read

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Coming Out to PlayIf you thought an openly gay athlete could have no more surprises, pick up a copy of Robbie Rogers’ memoir Coming Out to Play this week and prepare to be surprised.

Starting early on in the opening chapters, Rogers tells a very personal story. This is not just the “athlete in the closet” story that one might expect, but it’s also a portrait of his family and their ups and downs throughout his young life. It’s also the story of a rising soccer star beyond the issues of his sexuality and the decisions that a player viewed as a young phenomenon must make. When it comes to this time in his life I would have been interested in hearing more about his time at the University of Maryland and playing with other current MLS stars like Maurice Edu and Graham Zusi.

Ultimately this is a story of a man who spent his life masking his sexuality and the process he took to reveal his whole self to the world. There are many stories about Rogers self-censoring his language, monitoring his behavior with friends and family, and doing with women what his peers expected him to be doing with women. “Heartbreaking” doesn’t begin to describe some of these moments, and anyone who has been in the closet will be able to identify with much of what Rogers went through.

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Espn Body Issue Kai

ESPN Body Issue: Soccer Past and Present

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Howard ESPN Body Issue

Tim Howard, cover model

The ESPN Body Issue of their magazine hits newsstands this week, and for the sixth year running, they have brought us some of our favorite soccer stars stripped down. The LA Galaxy’s Omar Gonzalez and Seattle Reign’s Megan Rapinoe (both members of their respective national teams) bring the tally of soccer players the magazine has featured to over a dozen. Few sports have been featured annually; not even baseball and hockey have made it in every year since the tradition began in 2009. Let’s look back at all of the pics from the start until this week’s issue.

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Athlete Ally Dillon Powers

Dillon Powers: Athlete Ally. Short Shorts Model.

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Athlete Ally Dillon PowersColorado Rapids midfielder and 2013 MLS Rookie of the Year Dillon Powers was announced as an ambassador in the Athlete Ally program yesterday.

Joining numerous other players in Major League Soccer and the National Women’s Soccer League, Powers said in the Athlete Ally statement:

…I think sports have always provided a powerful platform from which social issues can be supported and examples can be set. So supporting LGBT equality in sport is important because it can successfully affect social change.

But lest that be his only contribution to the gay community yesterday, Powers was also part of the Rapids’ April Fools Day fun, posing in some retro soccer kits that featured fringe and some very short shorts. The uniforms are a throwback to the Colorado Caribous of the NASL who spend one year in Denver before being moved to Atlanta by an ownership group including Ted Turner.

Enough of the April Fools teasing Colorado; we want to see Dillon Powers sporting this look on the pitch!

 

Bravo, Dillon Powers, on both accounts!

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Anton Hysén Signs With Myrtle Beach Mutiny

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Anton Hysén Out Swedish soccer player Anton Hysén has signed with the Myrtle Beach Mutiny of the National Premier Soccer League.

Hysén came out exactly three years ago in an interview with Swedish soccer magazine Offside and in this site’s first interview told us that one of his career dreams was to play in the United States.

For the past four seasons he has played for Utsiktens BK in Sweden’s third division. The Mutiny are in the fourth division of the American soccer pyramid, on par with the USL Premier Development League, and eligible for US Open Cup competition.

I’ve had the opportunity to have some conversation with Hysén about this move while it has been in the works and while he knows he’s playing in a lower league in America, he feels that it’s a better opportunity to get exposure and playing time in a country he loves. His move across the Atlantic is expected to happen in April ahead of the new season.

Off the field Anton Hysén is also known as the seventh champion of Sweden’s version of Dancing with the Stars. His father, former Liverpool defender Glenn Hysén, is currently competing on the show.

February 15, 2013

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February 15, 2013 is a day I will always remember. Robbie Rogers came out publicly as a gay man, was embraced by the soccer community, and was on his way to making professional sports history.


I remember sitting at the desk in my office, very much ready for the weekend to begin in six or so hours. Then I saw the tweet: “Just getting some sh*t off my chest” along with a link to therobbierogers.com.

Now I feel like I need to say that I don’t make presumptions about any player’s sexuality. But at the same time as I moved my mouse pointer to that link a part of me wondered, “Is this it? Is this going to be an American soccer player coming out of the closet while still in the prime of his career?” It truly was a gut feeling based on nothing whatsoever.

I read the post. I read it again. And again. I wanted to make sure what I was reading was exactly what I thought it was. Even then, a part of me wasn’t sure. If you go back and look at the first versions of posts to the site that day, they all said “appears to have come out.” Part of my brain still thought it was too good to be true, although the posting was soon confirmed as legitimate.

But yeah, there was also a part of me that was filled with nothing short of giddy excitement. It’s funny because my company had just hired someone for my department a week before and she was in the office to be trained by me. Who knows what she thought of me nervously pacing around with my phone in my hand. I texted my best friend. I sent messages to the other out soccer players I knew of in North Carolina, in Montreal, and in Sweden. It’s so odd how I remember exactly what I did one year ago.

Then I set up a Tweetdeck search. What would the reaction be? Would people care? Would people be supportive?

I was nothing short of overwhelmed. The love from teammates, other players, and so many fans had me beaming all day long. That reaction is so much of what made the day so special for me. Our community coming together to virtually wrap our arms around one of our own, letting him know he is loved and that whatever path he would choose to go down, we all had his back.

That’s why I made the video above. I wanted some sort of memento of February 15, 2013. Something to remember the brave step Robbie Rogers took and the way a world reacted. And how proud I felt that day to be a fan of American soccer.

Robbie Rogers wasn’t the first soccer player to come out, and he certainly won’t be the last. And I know that every time we have another day like February 15, 2013, soccer players and fans from around our soccer community will envelop that next out player with our love.

ESPN

Abby Wambach Named to ESPNW “Impact 10″ List

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Abby Wambach

ESPN

Abby Wambach has been named number five on ESPNW’s year-end “Impact 10″ list of female athletes.

Wambach was a natural pick for the list with her record-breaking year as she passed Mia Hamm for the greatest number of international goals scored by any player. ESPNW also cites her leading the Western New York Flash to a NWSL championship match in her hometown, where they lost to the Portland Thorns whose Alex Morgan was named as number ten on the list.

You can still vote in the fan version of the poll at the ESPNW website.

Now ESPN, can we now discuss how there could possibly be four bigger athletes than Abby Wambach in 2013? Boo.

Robbie Rogers Out Magazine

Robbie Rogers Named to 2013 Out100 List

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Robbie Rogers Out Magazine

Out Magazine

Robbie Rogers made the list as Out Magazine revealed their first 15 entries to their annual Out100 of notable personalities in the LGBT community.

It marks the first time a soccer star has been named to this list selected by both magazine editors and readers.

Rogers is joined in the first batch of honorees by WNBA star Brittney Griner, Orange is the New Black‘s Laverne Cox, and the legendary George Takei. Here’s hoping he’s not the only member of our soccer family on the list when the full 100 is revealed.

Rogers and the LA Galaxy hold a 1-0 lead over Real Salt Lake in the MLS Western Conference Semifinals. Leg 2 from Sandy, Utah is tonight at 9 PM ET on ESPN2.

There’s more from Robbie Rogers’ Out Magazine photo shoot at their website.

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Abby Wambach and Sarah Huffman Wed in Hawaii

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Abby Wambach Sarah HuffmanAbby Wambach and Sarah Huffman got married in a ceremony in Hawaii this past weekend, multiple sources such as TMZ are now reporting.

Ok, for many of this isn’t news. We’ve known this was happening for awhile now. Heck, I did a Google search back in July when Huffman publicly came out while signing on with Athlete Ally that resulted in their online wedding registry.

(My personal favorite item? The bottle opener in the shape of a bulldog’s head.)

We were waiting until one of them said something about the wedding until we did. We wanted to respect what they clearly wanted to be a private affair. But news of the ceremony has been coming out (as it were) for days now, and we can’t help but share in their joy and wish them the best.

Fox Soccer blogged about it last Friday, reporting on the confluence of US Women’s National Team members in Hawaii. Heather Mitts tweeted congratulations Saturday.

Now media outlets across the globe are picking up the story from TMZ and spreading the news of what is likely the soccer wedding of the year (sorry Jay and Ashleigh).

So congratulations to Abby and Sarah. May your married life together be happy and blessed.

Update: On behalf of Sarah and herself, Abby thanked fans Wednesday afternoon:

Megan Rapinoe Jimmy Conrad sports bra

Megan Rapinoe Wooed (Again) by Jimmy Conrad

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Megan Rapinoe was once again the object of Jimmy Conrad’s BFF affections as he made a second play on KickTV to win her over.

Megan Rapinoe Jimmy Conrad sports braHis first attempt was at a USWNT friendly last November, but it’s clear from this video that he was just trying to darned hard. He solicits advice from teammates Kelley O’Hara and Becky Sauerbrunn but will their tips lead to a BFF match made in heaven?

Will a special picnic win her over? How about some super fan antics at at the South Korea friendly at Red Bull Arena? Will Lori Lindsey be our BFF if Conrad steals Megan Rapinoe away? Most of these questions are answered in this great edition of Jimmy Conrad’s American Soccer Spectacular.

Robbie Rogers Gay Youth Cneter

Robbie Rogers Tours LA Gay & Lesbian Youth Center

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Robbie Rogers Gay Youth CneterPart of Robbie Rogers’ visit to the LA Gay & Lesbian Center with the MTV Act blog was a visit to their facilities for youth and to speak with teens.

The rate of homelessness among LGBT teens is disproportionately high (it’s estimated that 40% of youth on the street identify as LGBT), and Roger saw both the housing available for youth in need and a clothes closet available for job interviews. He also took questions from teens at the center, many of them athletes themselves. Youth in crisis is an issue that is very close to my heart, so it’s great to see Rogers reaching out in this way.

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