Compete Nov/Dec 2022

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Faces of Sports Including the Incredible Story of RHONDA RAJSICH, SDLT USA Diving Makes a Big Splash into Diversity Compete Sports Diversity’s 2022 Person of the Year: GREG LEE, ARIZONA CARDINALS CFO + • $4.95 SPECIAL EDITION: NOV / DEC • 2022


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Happy End of the Year!

Normally I do not celebrate the year’s end. In fact it’s my least favorite time of year when I’m more than eager to get the holidays over with and ring in the New Year. This year, however, is a bit different for me as I’m celebrating the end of a very positive and productive old year.

This time last year life was vastly different. Frankly, things weren’t going so well. All that changed following a much-needed trip home to the U.S. to visit family in Denver, Colorado during December/January and then a trip to Las Vegas for the 2022 Sin City Classic. While I attended the SCC, I also took part in the Compete Sports Diversity Summit and Compete’s Petey Awards. Finally, I spent two days with the Pride Cheerleading Association experiencing the power of #CharitableCheerleading first hand.

As much as I needed the recharge and visit with my blood family and my LGBTQ+ sports fam, little did I know just what that would do for me to launch 2022 into one of the best years’ I’ve had in a while.

After returning to Germany, I started work on my Ph.D. studies, had three research papers published, started work in educational and community development in sport psychology and took on my first job as an applied sport psychologist and strength and conditioning coach for a professional sports team. I also organized a conference, presented at several conferences on sports psychology, sports diversity and sports science, got back into competitive swimming and stepped up my work with Compete Sports Diversity, including the physical online launch of the Sports Diversity Leadership Certification Program (SDL Designation Track).

Needless to say, it’s been an amazing year and I feel like I’m just getting started. So forgive the vaunt but it’s important we reflect on the positive things we’ve achieved. And given the mental health struggles I’ve gone through the last few years, it’s really nice to have something to celebrate.

I’m looking forward to seeing everybody again at the 2023 Sin City Classic as well as the amazing LGBTQ+ sporting events happening all over 2023, including IGLA, Eurogames, and Gay Games. I hope to see you there! •

David “Dirk” Smith, SDL • HE | HIM

The Diverse Faces of Sports in 2022

Welcome to the last issue of the 2022 year. From my perspective, members of the LGBTQ+ and allied communities have been stepping up their involvement in the sports diversity movement in a variety of ways. This year our Faces of Sports issue shows the wonderful diversity not only in the people but also the organizations that are part of changing the Face of Sports. Here are just a few of their stories included in this issue that I think you’ll enjoy.

You’ll want to read our One-on-One interview with cover athlete, openly out Team USA racquetball player Rhonda Rajsich, SDLT and learn how a set of brass knuckles unexpectedly opened a new career path for her as a speaker and budding author.

HIV/AIDS hasn’t gone away but with new medical treatments available, we’ve stopped talking about it and that’s not smart. Terry Dyer, SDL, new head of the World AIDS Museum is here to change that. He shares his path to new director and his plans to continue the conversation around prevention in sexual health and wellness.

Diane Maiese, SDL, a four-time NCAA All American diver, is the first Black woman to ever win an NCAA championship in diving, the first Black female Division One diving coach and the first Black female FINA certified international judge. She is joining forces with Lee Michaud, CEO of USA Diving, himself a former champion diver, to increase DEI in USA and Olympic Diving.

Several people are being recognized for their efforts. One is Greg Lee, CFO of the Arizona Cardinals who was recognized as Compete Sports Diversity’s Person of the Year for 2022 for his commitment to advancing DEI in both recreational and professional sports in the Phoenix area. The award was presented in partnership with Tempe Tourism Office.

Another is Yunio Martinez, an immigrant from Guatemala now living in Philadelphia. He is one of only eight coaches across the U.S. being honored by the United Soccer Coaches. He’s receiving their LGBTQ+ & Allies Award of Excellence for his work creating a soccer tournament now in its third year, Kicking Out Homophobia. It raises awareness and money for trans, intersex and non-binary charities while including players of all designations.

I truly believe it’s important to know that there are positive stories of people like these in the pages of Compete who are actively working to make things better. And I invite you to join us in our mission: To Unite the World Through Sports!

On behalf of all of us at Compete, I wish you a very Happy Holidays! •

Connie Wardman, M.A., SDLT • SHE | HER


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Road Rebel (September-October 2022)

My girlfriend and I love your article about NHRA driver Travis Shoemake. We both agree that seeing someone in their 30s pursuing a career in professional sports is really an inspiration for this 30+ year old former recreational bowler. Is there hope for me? I don’t know but I will be cheering for Travis all the way.

Aloha Ally (September-October 2022)

I read online that Hawaii was hosting a football championship for the LGBTQ+ community. Even though I am an ally, I certainly appreciate the fact that an organization such as the NGFFL exists. I have a gay brother and am glad he can find a sense of community in sport, just like I did. The social aspect of sports is just as important as the physical aspect.

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… for making history twice: once as the first Black U.S. captain for the World Cup duration; second for becoming the youngest captain at this World Cup at just age 23, showing his maturity with response to an Iranian journalist’s question on U.S. discrimination: “… in the US, we’re continuing to make progress every single day.”


• U.S. Olympic skier Breezy Johnson has come out as bisexual.

• Joe Morrell, St. John Fisher University junior has come out as gay, shifting the conversation from being “the one gay basketball kid.”

• Runner Nikki Hiltz has come out as non-binary and is now using they/ them pronouns.

… on the couple’s announcement that the wheelchair basketball stars are expecting their first child in April 2023. As members of the LGBTQ+ community, the couple has always felt it’s important to use their platforms as parathletes to encourage inclusivity in sports as well as helping inspire women looking to balance motherhood with a career in an elite sport.

• Isaac Humphries, Australian professional basketball player for Melbourne United team has come out as gay. He played U.S. college ball for the Kentucky Wildcats.



• Starr Andrews, the first U.S. Black figure skater to win the Grand Prix Medal at Skate Canada.

• AC Mack, historic LGBTQ world champion wrestler achieved the highest ranking ever for an out wrestler in 2022 Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s 500 list, coming in at No. 25.

… for partnering to help kids facing food insecurity in the U.S. and Canada. For every free throw made throughout the 2022-23 NBA season and the 2023 WNBA season, DoorDash will provide up to 40 meals for food-insecure kids and teens through its “Score One For The Neighborhood” initiative which will also partner with No Kid Hungry, a national campaign working to end childhood hunger.

• Out NASCAR racer Zach Herrin, ready to return after quitting 10 years ago. Welcome back, Zach!

• Matthew Mitcham, out Olympic gold medal winning diver from 2008 and first ever gay Olympic champion, has been inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

… for supporting his school’s LGBTQ+ athletic community. He and his husband, Ryan Rhodes have committed to a $5,000 donation to the newly created scholarship fund for each of the next five years. This is part of an effort to promote not only the inclusion of more LGBTQ+ athletes in sports at USF but also to raise the visibility of gay athletes everywhere through storytelling.


Deserving athletes, teams, leagues, organizations, and corporations as well as high profile celebrities receive High Fives for their contributions to promoting diversity, inclusion, equality-equity and acceptance for all. BRETT CHAMBERS | MEMBER OF THE WASHINGTON, D.C. GAY FLAG FOOTBALL LEAGUE & UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA ALUMNUS NBA, WNBA AND DOORDASH PHOTO @MACIEJSPHOTOS LAURIE WILLIAMS AND ROBYN LOVE BRITISH PARALYMPIANS TYLER ADAMS | AMERICAN SOCCER PLAYER ARTURO PARDAVILA III VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Rhonda Rajsich, SDLT: From Racquetball to Motivational Speaker Thanks to a Set of Brass Knuckles

Dirk Smith: Rhonda, please tell us first about your background. You’re quite the accomplished athlete!

Rhonda Rajsich: Thanks. My parents joined a health club when I was two years old that had a nursery where parents could leave their kids while they worked out. My mom would play tennis or do aerobics and my dad would play racquetball. Well, I figured out that when another parent brought their kid in, I could stick a block in the door while they were distracted, use both hands to pry it open and sneak out.

I could never find my mom but I knew where my dad was going to be. So I’d find what court pops was on, run down to the basketball court and grab a basketball, which of course I had to carry like this [gestures like carrying a big box]. When he was in between games, I’d run up, steal his racket and run onto the court. He would play along and let me have my fun, then he’d finally pipe up, “OK kid, give the big people the racket back. What are you doing out here anyway? Where’s your mother?” It wasn’t until I started doing interviews like this that either of my parents realized that I was sneaking out. My dad always thought my mom took me out of the nursery and vice versa.

DS: Wow, you are very sly!

RR: [Laughs] yeah, tight security. That’s where it all started. I played racquetball and basketball, literally, my whole life.

“I know that speaking is the thing I want to do intentionally. I feel if I can help one person or a crowd of 10, or a crowd of 10,000, that’s my purpose now.”

I had every intention of playing in the WNBA, and when it was created, I remember getting a phone call from a newspaper asking how I felt about Phoenix getting one of the first WNBA teams. I was like, “where do I sign up?!” I planned to play basketball; racquetball was more of a hobby. I didn’t go to school with other racquetball players like I did with basketball players but I always enjoyed it. Then I finally had to decide my future with basketball after I qualified for the USA National Racquetball Team. I had planned to go out for it, but it happened earlier than I expected, especially because I was more committed to basketball at the time.

DS: But you basically grew up surrounded by the sport, so it’s no surprise you hit the national team so quickly.

RR: I was already judging national team qualifying finals matches when I was 13 years old because they trusted me to know the game well and the rules well enough to agree or disagree with the ref’s calls. I wanted to be a line judge so I could have front row seats to those matches. And those athletes I was judging were the same people I started beating earlier than I thought I would. I grew up watching and emulating them and then suddenly I’m beating them.

DS: You mentioned motivational speaking and brass knuckles. How do they fit in to all this?

RR: I’ve been speaking on and off for over 15 years. At first it was just because I was a professional athlete in a niche sport. But in 2008 I got jumped by two guys with brass knuckles – really! They shattered the right side of my face; my eyeball almost fell out and I was hospitalized. But six weeks later I won the world championships. That’s the Cliff Notes version.

DS: That’s horrible! How were you even able to compete let alone win the world championships?

RR: They [Team USA Racquetball] weren’t going to let me go. They wanted to replace me with an alternate. That devastated me more than getting my face rearranged and having reconstructive surgery because it felt like my world was being taken away from me. I spoke with the head coach and said, “I don’t need my face to hit the ball; my arms and my legs still work!” Well, that won him over and he let me maintain my spot and go. I look back on it now and I’m like, “what the hell were they thinking, letting me go?”

Above: Rhonda wins her second US Open title; Right: Rhonda with partner Lea Waide; Bottom right: Rhonda in action at the U.S. Open.

At the time, the last thing I wanted was to be the weak link for Team USA. I honestly believed that I was the best option for us to go. We ended up winning it; I never lost a game or tiebreaker. In the end, we swept everything. We had two men and two women from the U.S. in the singles final that won, and both of our men and women’s doubles teams won. We won all the individual awards, we won the women’s team award, we won the men’s team award and we won the overall team award – we literally swept every trophy there was to get.

I remember after I hit the winning shot, I congratulated my opponent, I gave her a hug, and then I fell to my knees and started crying. My first thought was, “I’m not even supposed to be here.” Yeah, I mean, I really felt that in two ways because they weren’t going to let me compete, but also the dude that attacked me came at me a second time from behind and threatened to kill me. So winning was a dream come true.

Now, having that new platform to speak from, it’s not even about a professional athlete, it’s about life lessons that can be applied across any age group, any profession, any business structure, any classroom structure and personal life; people just looking for clarity or guidance. I’ve learned so many things through that experience, I know that speaking is the thing I want to do intentionally. I feel if I can help one person or a crowd of 10, or a crowd of 10,000, that’s my purpose now.

I have that platform to use and a powerful story to share, then add “racquetball player” on the end of that. Now I’m taking a year off from playing to write a book, a memoir of my story, experiences, my lessons learned and the message I want to put out to reach even more people. I want to make the most of that opportunity.

DS: What a wonderful story, Rhonda. I appreciate you sharing!

CompeteNetwork com | COMPETE • 17




In an effort to increase DEI in USA and Olympic Diving, two former diving stars, now current leaders in the diving community – Lee Michaud and Diane Maiese, SDL – have come together to open the pool for underserved communities, especially those of color.

As CEO of USA Diving, Lee Michaud is himself a former champion diver. Learning to dive at age nine, he became a four-time NCAA All-American diver while at the University of Michigan; he was also a five-time member of the USA National Diving Team and a member of the diving team at the 1991 Pan American Games.

Facing a much needed reorganization almost three years ago, USA Diving reached out to Michaud to lead it. A senior career transportation executive known for his skills in change management and redesign, organizational and people development and building strategic partnerships and alliances plus his ongoing passion for diving, as the new CEO he brought the struggling organization the healthy balance of business management and sport performance it needed.

The mission of USA Diving is to build the sport of diving to achieve Olympic success through providing a safe environment for its members and diving community as a whole. A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that reports to the Olympic Committee and to Congress, it selects, conditions and trains teams to represent the United States in major diving events: those include the Olympic Games, World Championships and the FINA Diving World Cup. Other well-known events include the USA Diving National Championships. The organization also certifies diving judges based on the results of a rigorous FINA exam.

It takes about 10-12 years to train an Olympic diver. Like Lee, many of their athletes begin diving as youths in junior programs held in facilities located in U.S. cities nationwide. Some move on to the senior level, becoming top national and international competitive divers. But like many competitive sports, diving can be very expensive. And with clubs located in less than 40 cities, access is limited to those who can afford to reach them and pay for the training, equipment and other assorted costs. As a result, diving is almost exclusively a white sport.

access to the sport of diving to everyone.”

There has been a diving outlier over the years, however: history-making diver, Compete Sports Diversity member, Diane Maiese, SDL.

A four-time NCAA All American diver, Diane Maiese is the first Black woman to ever win an NCAA Championship in diving; she’s also the first Division One diving coach and the first to become a FINA certified international judge.

She won her NCAA diving championships 25 years ago and it’s only been in this year that has changed ... partially. In 2022 the first Black male won his first NCAA diving Championship. Diane has never been happy being the only Black person representing diving; it’s something she’s happy to change. “I am dedicated,” says Diane, “to providing access to the sport of diving to everyone.”

In the meantime, Maiese, who has never really thought about herself based on the color of her skin or as some pioneer out to break barriers, has continued successfully coaching divers and winning honors as the the five-time Atlantic 10 Diving Coach of the Year and the VISAA Diving Coach of the Year for 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2022. Instead, she’s seen herself more through all the ways she interacts with people on a daily basis, as a diving coach, mother, teacher and friend.

One of the reasons Maiese is so determined to provide access to diving through diversity, inclusion and equality/equity is because she realizes how lucky her life’s circumstances have been. She wasn’t born into a wealthy Black family that was able to afford her the access, training fees, athletic gear and more to become a winning diver and coach. She considers herself very lucky to have been adopted by an upper middleclass white family who lovingly provided access for her into an essentially upper class sport.

Since accessibility, location and cost are the barriers to implementing DEI in the diving world, Diane and a couple of parents founded DiveRVA, a non-profit organization located in Richmond, Virginia to address that. As its owner and CEO, she envisions it as a catalyst for positive change founded on the necessary values of support, empowerment, inclusion and progress to fuel her vision for building a diving facility there.

In addition to her work at DiveRVA, Maiese is also touring various cities with pool facilities to see if they fit the Olympic venue requirements for diving. Very young children can do well with diving as can gymnasts, ice skaters, hockey players and other athletes with strong cores. Diving isn’t only wonderful for a city’s youth of various ages, it also becomes an important draw for sports tourism.

In November Diane combined attendance at the Compete Sports Diversity Summit on Women in Sports and Events held at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona with a tour of ASU’s diving facility. If your city, recreation center, school or university has an Olympic-style diving setup please contact: to be a part of Diane Maiese and Lee Michaud’s leadership in changing the history of diving from one of exclusion to one of inclusion, diversity, acceptance, and equality/equity. •

Above (L to R): Diane Maiese, SDL; Luchie Javelosa, SDLT; Eric Carlyle, SDLT; Mashonda Paschal Gilmore, SDL
“I am dedicated to providing




Recently our managing editor, Dirk Smith spoke with Terry Dyer, SDL, CEO and Executive Director of the World AIDS Museum to learn more about his work and that of the World AIDS Museum not only preserving the legacy but also continuing the discussion surrounding HIV/AIDS.

Dirk Smith: Tell me about the World AIDS Museum. You just started your role there, how did that come about?

Terry Dyer: The World AIDS Museum started as a support group for HIV-positive men to support each other and navigate that space. Back in 2011 they decided they needed a bigger space and wanted to take a new direction. They developed it into a non-profit and built it up from there. What I love is that the founders are still involved and still supporting it. The mission is really to preserve the history of the HIV/AIDS era and challenge the stigma around HIV/AIDS. We do that by organizing programs, artistic expression and different cultural movements.

I was a volunteer in the peer educator program for the last year before joining the organization as a member of the staff. Prior to this, I was at another nonprofit in technology where I had led the development of mental health services to the community that was connected to the World AIDS Museum before I came here officially.

DS: That’s amazing – it shows how passionate everybody who volunteers and works for it is. It’s a project of the heart rooted in those experiences that’s been channeled into something positive.

TD: We don’t have the conversation around HIV/AIDS any longer since it’s not as prevalent. We sort of joked around COVID that we have an epidemic that has been going on for so many years, yet we are still responsible to spread the message about prevention in sexual health, wellness and things of that nature. I’m excited to finally work for an organization that can do that.

DS: One of the things I always talk about is the story of an HIV+ swimmer from the 1994 Gay Games who became the first openly HIV+ person to set a world record in sport. There was only one treatment and only a little glimmer of hope, but it was still a death sentence. The story of someone who wasn’t just sitting in a hospital bed wasting away but able to continue swimming, and to set a world record. It’s super powerful. Those are the stories and the messaging that people need to hear and see.

TD: Absolutely. Over the years we have had a handful of folks that have come out being HIV+, both LGBTQ+ and straight. I think one of the biggest ones is Magic Johnson who stepped up, especially if they’ve got those large platforms, to continue these conversations.

HIV/AIDS is no longer the doom and gloom that it once was. With preventative drugs like PReP that are all the rave with respect to sexual health, and medications which are good, we still must honor and preserve the history and legacy PReP is built on and talk about how we got to this point. Just because there’s a medication doesn’t mean you can stop the conversations.

DS: How have these conversations shaped your work with the museum?

TD: What focuses our museum is not only to maintain our space in the LGBTQ+ arena but it’s also getting outside into other spaces as well. We have educational programs that are in the school district here in Broward County. I’m in South Florida and under my leadership we are going to be taking a lot of those educational programs into other Florida school districts, then connect with folks that are in different counties because those are the folks that need it in more rural type towns. When you’re in a place like San Francisco or Chicago, there are non-profits, prevention spaces that are constantly talking about the messaging. But we need to get these resources into these more rural cities and counties across the country.

DS: How can our readers find more information about the World AIDS Museum and the work you’re doing?

TD: We are on almost every social media platform: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram; just type in “World AIDS Museum” and we come up. We are located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and share space, art and surf with the Stonewall Museum and Archives. We love this space. It’s a beautiful building and we’re so appreciative of all the work that’s gone into our gallery, so check out our website: We’re also on LinkedIn, which is very new for us. And I’m personally excited about it as a wonderful way for us to connect with other business professionals on a national level as well.

DS: Wonderful! Thank you for taking the time to chat with us, Terry! •

This interview has been edited for space constraints.

... we are still responsible to SPREAD THE MESSAGE ABOUT PREVENTION in sexual health, wellness and things of that nature.
MVP FREDERIK JAN VOGEL • HE | HIM • AGE 25 HOMETOWN: Altena, Westfalia, Germany CURRENT RESIDENCE: Aachen/Cologne CURRENT SPORT(S) PLAYED: Swimming FAVORITE ATHLETE & TEAM: Dirk Smith @SC Janus Köln INTERESTS/HOBBIES: Technology, machine learning, image processing, swimming and learning new things.

What’s your personal story? Tell us something about you, what interactions you have had with the sports community, LGBTQ+ community, etc: When my ex and I were looking for sports to do together we joined the SC Janus swimming team and I quickly felt like this was my way to go. As the pandemic started winding down, we started doing more competitions and I’ve been working on encouraging other swimmers from SC Janus to do competitions with me. I found that I really enjoyed it and started setting some lofty swimming goals for myself. I recently swam at the 2021 EuroGames in Copenhagen, the 2022 EuroGames in Nijmegen and the 2022 Valentines Tournament in Amsterdam. At those events I met a lot of great swimmers and new friends, made a lot of connections with the community and learned a lot about myself as an athlete and a gay man.

How are you currently involved in the LGBTQ+ sports community? After swimming for a few years at SC Janus I became a coach as well, fulfilling both roles. I am working with Dirk Smith on building the performance group with SC Janus to train and compete at LGBTQ+ sports events all over Europe and the world, including IGLA 2023 in London, EuroGames 2023 in Bern and the Gay Games in either Hong Kong or Guadalajara.

If given the chance, what would you tell/teach your younger self? And/or is there anything you hope to teach the younger generation that may be looking up to you? No matter how ambitious you are, change takes time and patience is a virtue. Take your time and stick to your plan. Going to a tournament? CHILL! This is mostly about benchmarking yourself. Don’t give any f**ks about what the other swimmers are doing, this is about you against yourself only.

What are your future goals? Becoming more competitive as an individual and as a team member. Crossing the magical oneminute mark for the 100m free. Competing at my first Gay Games in November, 2023.

What does Sports Diversity mean to you? We perform at our best when we can be ourselves. We should strive to constantly push ourselves to perform better and discover new limits to our own capabilities. To do this, we must be true to ourselves and stand against anything that wants us to be something we’re not. Only when we can accept ourselves and be in an environment that empowers our authenticity can we challenge the limits of our own capabilities and performance. Surrounding yourself with a team of people who will love you for who you are, lift you up and push you further than you ever thought possible will ensure you can perform at and be the best of who you are.

Please feel free to include any additional pertinent information you think would be of interest to Compete readers. Readers want to know your real story to connect with you – this isn’t the time to be shy! With my roots in electrical engineering, being gay was not always easy. Although a university per se is a diverse place, the entire realm of engineering is somewhat dominated by ideals of masculinity (despite slow change over the last 5-10 years). Finding a place where I felt just about right was always a challenge for me as social interactions are not the easiest for me. I am often perceived as “the nerd,” “the awkward one,” “the geek” whilst my scholarly performance could be described as mediocre, so it’s been a challenge to overcome in finding my own place within the engineering community, but I am on my way.•

CompeteNetwork com | COMPETE • 25
We perform at our best when we can be ourselves. We should strive to constantly push ourselves to perform better and discover new limits to our own capabilities.


Person of the

As the world turns its attention to State Farm Stadium, where Super Bowl LVII will decide the next team to hoist the Lombardi Trophy on Feb. 12, 2023, one senior executive with the Arizona Cardinals just brought home a different trophy.

Greg Lee, Arizona Cardinals Chief Financial Officer, was recognized as Compete Sports Diversity’s Person of the Year for 2022. The award was presented by Compete in partnership with Tempe Tourism Office, on October 26 as part of the TEAMS Conference & Expo presented by SportsTravel magazine in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

“Compete was honored to partner with the Tempe Tourism Office to recognize Greg Lee as our first-ever Person of the Year,” said Eric Carlyle, Compete CEO. “Greg’s commitment to advancing diversity, equality/ equity and inclusion in sports has been a game changer in both recreational and professional sports.”

Lee was selected by Compete’s executive committee which considered “spirit, generosity and dedication to sports diversity” as the criteria for selecting the inaugural honoree. In Lee’s nearly 17 years with the NFL franchise, he has played an integral role in countless efforts that set him apart from the other candidates.

“Lee was among the first senior executives from the NFL teams to champion equality/equity, diversity and inclusion by asking what he could do for the LGBTQ+ community,” Carlyle added. “He listened and then he took action by working closely with the community in meaningful ways. He’s set a shining example that other executives are now adding to their playbooks.”

By partnering with the National Gay Flag Football League (NGFFL), the Arizona Cardinals were instrumental in bringing Gay Bowl XXI — LGBTQ+ flag football tournament — to Tempe, Arizona in 2021.

That relationship continues. Representatives from the NGFFL were subsequently invited to the 2022 NFL Draft to announce the Cardinals third-round pick (No. 87 overall) before a live audience in Las Vegas as well as an estimated 10.3 million viewers worldwide. The team’s selection — Cameron Thomas, defensive end from San Diego State — was read by NGFFL player and new league commissioner Joel Horton, making him the first openly gay person to announce an NFL draft pick.

Off the field the Arizona Cardinals are gold sponsors of the Greater Phoenix Equality Chamber of Commerce (GPECC) and also launched a new partnership with Compete’s annual Sports Diversity Summit in 2021.

“The Tempe Tourism Office is proud to be a presenting sponsor of Compete’s inaugural Person of the Year award,” said Michael Martin, President & CEO of the Tempe Tourism Office. “Not only does this speak volumes about the inclusive and welcoming spirit of our city, it also celebrates our Gay Bowl XXI guests and enriches the narrative around the Cardinals’ local relationships and priorities as we countdown to Super Bowl LVII. Everyone is welcome here and this is just one way we’re sharing that.”

Another way in which Tempe is widely extending an invitation to all visitors year-after-year is via its Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index (MEI) score, a snapshot that is based on a nationwide evaluation of municipal laws and related criteria, including nondiscrimination laws and leadership on LGBTQ+ equality. Since 2014 the City of Tempe has earned the perfect score of 100.

For updates on the Tempe Tourism Office’s LGBTQ+ efforts, please visit or, for more information on booking your next event in Tempe, visit •



“He’s set a shining example that other executives are now adding to their playbooks.”

Yep: He’s Just A

D--- Good Player!

Hopefully, what was once apparent total disbelief by the straight community that a gay man could ever play professional sports, especially one as manly as football, is finally dissipating. Carl Nassib, veteran defensive end now playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is finally breaking the curse of peoples’ obsession over a gay professional athlete’s so-called “life style” (spelled SEX!).

I’ve interviewed a lot of gay professional athletes and I can tell you that SEX isn’t on their minds while they’re playing. In one of his rare interviews, Nassib has given the basic response I’ve heard from all of them: “… I go out with the same mentality every game, just trying to beat the s--- out of the team across from me. My whole thing is, I’m a football player who is gay. I don’t think that straight players are thinking, ‘Oh, I’m straight and I’m playing this game.’”

He’s also made it clear he’s comfortable in his own skin. In a recent interview in People he said, “I was born

this way. I haven’t worked for it. That’s why it’s easy for me. It’s not even on my mind. I don’t choose every day to be gay. I choose to work hard and be a better person than I was yesterday. Doing interviews like this is not my favorite thing. I don’t want to ever feel like, ‘Oh, I’m hiding from something.’ I’m not hiding from s---.”

Yes, Carl Nassib is a player the world is now responding to as a d--- good football player and a kind, caring human being who just happens to be gay rather than some symbol whose life gets lost in sensationalism. For the second year he has chosen to support The Trevor Project for the annual NFL initiative, My Cause My Cleats, the only out athlete who has chosen an LGBTQ-specific charity this year.

The LGBTQ+ youth suicide prevention and crisis counseling work of The Trevor Project is important to him, saying that the suicide statistics on LGBTQ kids are five times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers, yet just one accepting adult cuts their chances of hurting themselves by 40 percent.

When making his coming out announcement in 2021, he donated $100,000 to The Trevor Project, an act that triggered the NFL and the Raiders to each donate $100,000 and other sports groups to join in, causing the non-profit’s total revenue to balloon from $29 million the year before his announcement to $52 million the following fiscal year. And his large financial donations have continued — it’s become his passion project.

In response to that kindness he’s received from teammates and fans, Nassib has launched a new app called Rayze that matches users with local non-profits where they can donate their time through volunteering or helping fund community organizations. •

“… I go out with the same mentality every game, just trying to beat the s--- out of the team across from me.”



• 2022 WNBA Champion (Coach – Las Vegas Aces)

• 2022 WNBA Coach of the Year

• 2022 WNBA All Star Head Coach

• 6× WNBA All-Star (2003, 2005–2007, 2009, 2011)

• 2× All-WNBA First Team (2007, 2009)

• 2× All-WNBA Second Team (2005, 2008)

• WNBA assists leader (2007)

• WNBA’s Top 15 Players of All Time (2011)

• WNBA Top 20@20 (2016)

• WNBA Top 25 of All Time

• 2008 Beijing Olympics Bronze Medal

• 2014 Hired as the San Antonio Spurs

Assistant Coach

• 2015 – Coached the San Antonio Spurs

Summer League Team to a Championship

• 2021 – Hired as Las Vegas Aces Head Coach

• 2022 – WNBA Coach of the Year

• 2022 – WNBA Champions

• 2022 – ESPN NBA Analyst

Basketball players who love the game and dream of playing professionally don’t all make it: it’s just a sad reality. But every once in a while an outlier comes along who blows everyone away; someone who just keeps working hard and manages to surprise those who weren’t paying attention.

That someone is Champion Head Coach Becky Hammon! And just like the proverbial little engine that could, she’s DONE it! By playing and taking in the nuances of the game she loves, the openly out Hammon has silenced her doubters while helping to pave the way for women coaching in the NBA – she’s become a sports history maker.

The latest achievements in her extraordinary career include Hammon becoming the first coach to a win a WNBA title in her inaugural season; the other is being picked up by ESPN as an NBA studio analyst for the 2022-23 season.

Basketball has been part of Hammon’s life from the time she was little, and she’s always had great skill on the court. But in spite of that, college recruiters dismissed her. As a 5-foot-6 guard, they felt she was too short and too slow to be a Division I basketball star. Fortunately, an assistant

coach from Colorado State saw her potential and “the rest, as they say, is history.”

Take a look at the highlights of her career. The high school kid deemed too short to be a college star, who was an undrafted WNBA rookie, wound up as one of the league’s top 25 Players of All Time. But what makes Hammon’s career trajectory so extraordinary is being hired as an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs – a men’s team.

Thanks to Spurs Coach Greg Popovich, she became the first female fulltime assistant coach in any major U.S. sports league; she even took over a game, becoming the first female acting coach when Popovich was ejected.

Many were disappointed but not shocked when she interviewed for head coaching positions with other NBA teams and wasn’t hired. In spite of her qualifications and rapport with players, it appeared owners weren’t comfortable putting their money behind a woman in charge of a men’s team for the first time. But I suspect if this glass ceiling wasn’t broken by Hammon, she certainly cracked it for another equally qualified female candidate. •

CompeteNetwork com | COMPETE • 31 Happy Holidays FROM Empowering ALL to live authentic lives. 702.733.9800 401 S. Maryland Pkwy.


Sports and travel very often go hand in hand. Adam Martindale has combined them both. As the owner of Cruise Planners — Martindale Travel & Tours, which also includes, a full-service travel agency headquartered in San Diego, California, Martindale offers a variety of specialty cruises & travel options. And one of them will be our Compete Sports Diversity Leadership Cruise taking place December 4, 2023; a four night Catalina and Ensenada Cruise on the Royal Caribbean International’s Navigator of the Seas.

Providing great opportunities for people to enjoy active vacations, whether that’s biking, scuba diving, hiking the national parks or in faraway places such as Machu Pichu, the company is a member of ASTA (American Association of Travel Advisors) and the IGLTA (International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association).

Beginning work in the hospitality industry in London at age 17, the native Brit says he always wanted to work on cruise ships. His first cruise ship experience came at age 19 with Carnival Cruise Lines and he’s also worked for Norwegian Cruise Lines, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises as Food and Beverage Director. He has had the

opportunity to cruise the world multiple times.

But he’s also worked at prestigious hotels like the Fontainebleau Hilton in Miami and Loews Coronado Bay Resort as well as high-end luxury resorts and spas. Martindale has never regretted his teen decision to travel; he’s made food and beverage and travel both his career and his lifestyle.

A gay man, Martindale shares the fact that like many, he was once married to a woman and has a 25-year old son. “It seemed easier to lie about my sexuality than be openly honest with myself and my ex-wife. Once I came out to my family and friends, there was a huge weight lifted from my shoulders and I am so proud to live my life in my truth and not worry about what anyone thinks anymore.”

When asked what Sports Diversity means to him, Martindale said that it’s “Inclusivity for all not dependent upon race, gender and political affiliation. Equal opportunity for all. … I am excited to be working with Compete,” he added “and looking forward to making more travel dreams come true.”

Join us next year for the first-ever Sports Diversity Leadership Cruise. •


Yunio Martinez is

As one of only eight coaches across the U.S. being honored by the United Soccer Coaches, Yunio Martinez is being awarded their LGBTQ+ & Allies Award of Excellence.

These USC awards honor an individual, organization or other entity that has shown a commitment and outstanding work on behalf of the values of each respective group, meeting the association’s highest ideals of inclusion and diversity in the game.

The award will be presented to Martinez (He|Him) at the 2022 Coaches Communities Awards of Excellence on Saturday, January 14 during the 83rd annual United Soccer Coaches Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

At the beginning of the Covid lockdowns in 2020, Martinez came up with an idea for a soccer tournament in his Philadelphia area – Kicking Out Transphobia – to raise both awareness and money for the local transgender community. That first year included both a men’s and a non-binary division. It was so successful that Kicking Out Homophobia became the “second annual,” adding not only a women’s and non-binary division but also two more organizations: Philly PALS and Kensington Soccer Club.

This year marked their third successful event with even larger teams of men, women and non-binary athletes. The organizers have added new partners: The Philadelphia Falcons LGBTQ+ Soccer Team and CASA Soccer League, and their money raising efforts now include trans, intersex and non-binary charities.


This is quite the turnaround from the little boy growing up in Guatemala who wasn’t all that interested in playing soccer at school. Martinez started playing at age seven only to avoid being bullied and called gay. But as he grew up, it turns out he is gay and at age 18 his parent kicked him out of the house because of it. Fortunately, his sister lives in the U.S. and has always been one of his big supporters.

Once here, he Googled gay soccer and that’s how he joined his LGBTQ+ soccer club, the Philadelphia Falcons. While playing with them, he says he learned how to love himself and stop worrying about what others think about him. “It’s been more than 10 years and now” he says, “I want everyone to play the sport” that helped him live an authentic life here in the U.S. He is passionate about helping others to learn the game: putting on coaching seminars, acting as membership director for the International Gay and Lesbian Football Association (IGLFA), the DEI officer for the CASA Soccer League and treasurer for the Philly Falcons and more.

But Martinez really wants people to understand each of the different communities within the LGBTQ+ umbrella, noting that he didn’t always understand them all when he was younger. He believes that by playing “the beautiful game” in a format like Kicking Out Homophobia, people start to interact with one another and discover that we’re all just people. He hopes you’ll decide to participate in an event like this one.

Jon Scheuren and Rachel Dailey, from Valley Forge Sports, Events & Tourism Authority are currently working on a bid to host the 2025 IGLFA North American Championship. They shared their excitement about Yunio’s award, saying “We were thrilled to learn about this award for Yunio, who continues to work tirelessly to make sports more inclusive, specifically through creating safe spaces in soccer! We couldn’t ask for a better representative of our sports community here in Montgomery County and the Philadelphia region.”

Valley Forge is a Certified Sports Destination by the Compete Sports Diversity Council.•

CompeteNetwork com | COMPETE • 35
Yunio believes that by playing “the beautiful game” in a format like Kicking Out Homophobia, people start to interact with one another and discover that we’re all just people.


Boyles: Compete’s Fitter, Fabulous, Confident Columnist

For many Compete readers who regularly share with us their enjoyment of our Fit & Fab column, permit me to introduce you to its writer, Matt Boyles, founder and CEO of Fitter Confident YOU, his online personal training tailored for the LGBTQ+ community.

And now, in my personal opinion there’s a great new holiday gift item for your favorite person, maybe even you since our favorite British columnist and personal trainer has just published a book; “Fitter Confident YOUniverse: An LGBTQ+ Guide to Wellbeing on Our Terms.”*

Matt is certainly fitter, fabulous and very often, quite funny. Who can forget his story of the Mr. Frosty Ice Crunchy Maker machine, the best present he never got? While funny, his humorous stories always have an important sensible suggestion or approach to you becoming the fittest, most confident “YOUnicorn” you’ve always been meant to be. How does he know all this? It’s because he’s experienced growing up as a:

• Human Being – like all of us on the planet

• Male – like let’s say about half of us on the planet

• Gay – so maybe like about 10 percent of that last half

• Adolescent-to-Young Adult Gay trying to hide it – definitely like 99-100 percent of that 10 percent

• Happy Gay 40ish Adult – he understands the Human Condition (my analysis btw, not his)

But Matt’s also gone through phases many of us have, of feeling we needed to add or lose X-number of pounds to look like some movie, TV or magazine image; or that we needed to go on certain fad diets or try various expensive exercise programs, spend endless dollars/pounds going to flashy gyms without any guidance; or use expensive personal trainers with a one-size-fits-all approach, only to be left each time feeling more dissatisfied than before.

Matt addresses the very real need for LGBTQ+ communityspecific services. He notes that all bodies, irrespective of gender identity obey the laws of thermodynamics, converting food into energy that enables them to move. But his choice as a gay man to work with the LGBTQ+ community is because, as he puts it, “we’re equal on paper, but not in spirit, not in the streets, not online and certainly not in many, many other countries.” Information coming from the World Cup currently being held in Qatar is real-time confirmation of that!

So while physical training components for gay clients are the same as for straight people, Matt’s approach also offers a safe space where a client can be himself, where questions can be asked without fear of being judged or forcibly outed. It’s one-on-one training tailored for each individual based on their unique starting point, set-up and goals. And it also includes Matt’s support, understanding, empathy, kindness and good humor.

His isn’t a “been there, done that, got the T-shirt” approach to your personal fitness. He’ll tell you that his approach isn’t a quick fix because that doesn’t work for anyone. But what he does is make each step something you can accomplish without feeling overwhelmed. He gives you achievable steps with lots of sensible advice and fun motivation. Matt works with you to build your plan, one you’ll want to stick to; he helps you feel good about what you’re accomplishing, about you transforming into the YOUnicorn you deserve to become!

* Matt Boyles’ book can be purchased through Amazon in both the U.S. and U.K. Neither Compete Magazine or its Editor Connie Wardman receive any compensation from the purchase of this book.
CompeteNetwork com | COMPETE • 37 AWARDS 13th Annual Petey Awards TM 2023 LAS VEGAS Welcome Reception Jan 11 Diversity Conference Jan 12 Diversity Awards Jan 12

Team Trans: Becoming World’s First Fully Trans/ Non-Binary Sports Tournament

Dropping the puck in Madison, Wisconsin over the third weekend of November 2022, the Team Trans Draft Tournament brought together six teams of 80 athletes, all of whom identify as transgender and/or nonbinary onto the ice for the first tournament of its kind.

The tournament taking place over the third weekend of November was no coincidence as it coincided with Transgender Awareness Week and culminated on Sunday, November 20th for Transgender Day of Remembrance. The goal of the tournament was “to help any trans-identified hockey player who wants to join us with the experience of belonging in an all trans locker room.”

The tournament was organized and hosted by two organizations, the Madison Gay Hockey Association’s Team Trans and the Boston Pride Hockey’s Team Trans who collaborated for the two day tournament that consisted of multiple hockey games played by three teams from each organization.

The Team Trans Draft Tournament included sponsorship by the National Hockey League that included LGBTQ+ pride swag bags and merch for the athletes. Most notably, a

very visible show of allyship and support for both the Team Trans Draft Tournament and for the trans/intersex/nonbinary community as a whole through a series of tweets and social media posts.

As expected, the NHL’s social media posts about Team Trans and trans athletes drew a lot of controversy but also a lot of support for the professional hockey organization in visibly supporting the development of a trans/intersex/ nonbinary inclusive sport, with the Team Trans Hockey twitter account following up the controversy by calling out the hypocrisy of critics who both set out to exclude trans people from sports while criticizing the need for inclusive spots organizations such as Team Trans to exist.

The tournament concluded on November 20th, Transgender Day of Remembrance which was only hours after the tragedy at Club Q in Colorado Springs in which five people, including several trans people were killed by a mass shooter who was quickly taken down by a trans woman and a straight ally, preventing further loss of life. The 80 athletes taking part in the tournament came together to recognize and honor the victims of the Club Q tragedy as well as the other victims of anti-trans violence over the last year.

By the end of the tournament, the athletes from both Team Trans’ Hockey Teams left the arena feeling a stronger sense of friendship and community, as well as empowerment and confidence that there is a place for them on the ice. While this may be the first all trans/nonbinary sport tournament, we know it will not be the last and we are excited to see it grow. •

CompeteNetwork com | COMPETE • 39 CONTACT ME AT: Your LGBTQ Cruise Travel Specialist This is an LGBTQ group cruise. Not a full-ship charter. “I offer a wealth of knowledge to personalize your onboard and land experience and know most ports of call throughout the world!”
Adam Martindale

Deferring Happiness: “I’ll be Happy When I’ve

Let’s address the title of this article square on: the reality is this: “no, you won’t.”

If you lose the weight, you’ll be the same person, just a few pounds lighter. And you’ll then realize the weight wasn’t the root cause of your unhappiness. It never is. And if you don’t lose the weight, it can be just another stick you’ll use to continually beat yourself up.

I used to be CONVINCED that increasing my overall weight to 185 pounds was the magic secret to my happiness, riches, more sex, success, everything. I had plucked this arbitrary number from the air and placed all my focus on the numbers increasing. This was well before I started Fitter Confident You and went on my own journey of fitness self-discovery, the one which allowed me to treat myself and my clients with kindness and understanding.

My numbers went up a bit because I ate and ate and ate. But long before I got anywhere near 185 pounds, a friend gave me a stern talking to (along the lines of this article!) which helped me start to understand where I was going wrong.

I get why I originally believed what I did and why you still may be holding this view. But the

Lost Five Pounds”

approach is that the future isn’t guaranteed and we might never reach this mythical outcome for a million different reasons.

Some people use this approach to delay doing good stuff for themselves: “I’ll start my health kick in the new year,” missing out on opportunities now to do good stuff for themselves when even 5-10 minutes a day can make you feel better.

Deferring happiness also implies that happiness is a destination — accomplish, achieve and acquire according to the rules you’ve invented and it will finally unlock the reward you’ve waited so long for.

But I believe happiness is a byproduct of loving what you do and who you are! Work on those elements and you CAN be happy today — now. Right now! And then the other things you choose to do – lose weight, get a new job, go on holiday — are much easier to do as there isn’t the pressure or expectation that they will be profoundly life-changing. They’re all just things we do because we want to.

So how do we fix deferred happiness? “Live in the present” is easy to say but can be harder to do: I get that. But appreciation not only of who you are now but also of all the things you’ve done so far helps develop this belief. The Australian singer Kylie Minogue may well have said it best when she sang “cause everyday is all there is, In my some Some Kind of Bliss, Kylie Minogue.

Look at the flip side. When you deferred happiness in the past, when you’ve thought buying something or doing something would really change your life for the better. Did it honestly have the effect you believed it would, or could you have been happier sooner?

The other thing, and I say this to everyone whether they defer happiness or not, is to celebrate yourself, your actions, your wins, your progress as often as possible, every day — heck, every hour! This can drastically help you to see how bloody brilliant you are in

Yes you WILL go on to achieve more things and some of them will make you feel great. But celebrate today the amazing YOU who’s alive and breathing and blinking (I bet you just blinked) and reading this. Why? Because you’re incredibly special and deserve every happiness

Matt Boyles is the Founder and CEO of Fitter, online Personal Training tailored for the GBTQ+ community, helping us all build strength, fitness and confidence from the inside out.
“... I believe happiness is a byproduct of loving what you do and who you are!”

Holiday Edition

Happy Holidays to everyone from Compete Magazine and Compete Sports Diversity! In case you haven’t already found the perfect gifts for those special people on your Nice (or Naughty?) list, here are some suggestions. (And just so you know, we earn no commission on any of this.) Let the holiday fun commence!


Mirror the fabulous confidence of stunning peacocks scattered among colorful blooms on this silky jacket. Hip length with an open front style, standup collar and fold-back cuffs, it’s a polished style that’s easy to wear for any occasion. Sizes S-XL, dry clean only.



Whether you want to smoke your favorite cocktails, charcuterie or cheeseboards for holiday guests or use it as a gift for the holidays, birthdays, housewarmings or other occasions, this handheld smoke infuser from Gramercy Kitchen Company makes you look like a gourmet. It includes a cleaning brush, wood chips and replacement parts exclusive to this product and even comes in a black velvet storage bag.


What could possibly one-up the anxiety-reducing, relaxation-inducing powers of a Gravity weighted blanket? A Gravity weighted robe by fashion designer Ron Chereskin of Modernist Studios made of 100 percent polyester fleece for an ultrasoft feel that includes a 3 pound weighted wrap inside the collar providing “deep touch pressure stimulation.” Just right for that cozy holiday lounging.


• $532 •

Grab three of your besties, some great music, maybe some drinks and enjoy relaxing in the soothing 104 degree water. The 114 surrounding air jets and rapid heating system work together to provide a comfortable massage. It also has integrated water filtration (don’t do it anyway!) and a cushioned floor with convenient drain valve.


This Manual German Equatorial beginners telescope is not only compact and portable, it also comes with multiple accessories plus a free download of one of the top consumer rated astronomy software programs. Great for adults and kids to use together, whether in the back yard or out camping.

> > >


Made to meet the harsh demands of boundary-pushing endurance athletes, outdoor adventurers and water sports enthusiasts, this watch comes with a rugged titanium case. With its fitness tracker, precision GPS, action button, extra-long battery life and brighter retina display, you have all you need to survive AND look good! This comes with an Orange Alpine loop but additional colors are available and they come in sizes small to large.


No matter how you and your feet identify, here is the original style boot that started it all – the Blundstone Original 500 Chelsea. These boots are lightweight and durable with 2.5 mm thick WeatherSealed leather uppers that shed water yet still breathe well. The rainbow style comes in both men’s and women’s models.


• $180 •

The 10 ounce mug has extended battery life while you’re on the move or you can keep it on the included charging coaster for all day use. Control it with your smartphone to set your temperature and customize presets. In Rose Gold.


$739 •

Cook your own stone-baked fresh pizzas in just 60 seconds with this Ooni Koda 16 gas powered pizza oven – YUM! It has an extra-large cooking area for 16” pizzas, meat joints, breads and more. The essentials bundle includes the oven, pizza peel (paddle), infrared thermometer and oven cover.

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Phoenix Raceway, Avondale, Arizona

November 6


Tempe, Arizona

November 10


Make Kindness the Norm!

November 13


Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany

November 13


HTC Center, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina November 17-20


November 20-December 18


Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, MX November 21


Anaheim Arena, Anaheim, California November 23-24



ESPN Wide World of Sports, Orlando, Florida

November 23-27


Portland, Oregon

November 24-27


CompeteNetwork com | COMPETE • 45
BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas December 3 NCAA WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL CHAMPIONSHIP CHI Health Center, Omaha, Nebraska December 15-17 64TH AUTOZONE LIBERTY BOWL Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, Tennessee December 28 PEACH BOWL Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia December 31 MARK YOUR CALENDAR! COMPETE PETEY AWARDS Flamingo Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada | January 12
GAMES TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts November 26 ARIZONA
Stadium, Glendale,
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