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Countdown to the Gay Games ...

This article shared 2692 times since Wed Jan 11, 2006
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Profiles by Ross Forman


Age: 60

Hometown: Hinsdale, Ill.

Status: Partner of 37 years, Grace

Job: Taught physical education at three South Side schools in the Chicago Public School System for 34 years. Retired five years ago.

Favorite TV Show: Commander In Chief

Favorite pro teams: Chicago Cubs, Bears and Bulls

Favorite Restaurant: Page's in Hinsdale.

People Don't Know That I … Am a great reader and gardener.

Peg Grey is set to compete this summer in her sixth Gay Games; however, her stylish t-shirt that she'll wear to play volleyball and while running the 5K race still needs to be updated.

It then will read: 58 +1 +1 +1.

Grey, you see, will be 61 during the Opening Ceremony march into Soldier Field. She's a legend in female athletics, a Hall of Famer who has championed the LGBT cause from her suburban Chicago home to San Francisco in 1986, Vancouver in 1990, New York City in 1994, Amsterdam in 1998 and Sydney in 2002. She's also endured the hardships in recent years of bone marrow cancer when doctors told her she'd live only a few more years.

'It's always been a dream of mine to have the Games here in Chicago,' Grey said. 'I'm really looking forward to it. It's just exciting to be able physically to compete. Everyone I talk to, I tell them: 'If you don't go and compete in the Games, you'll be kicking yourself forever.' If you can't participate, at least be a volunteer or a spectator.

'I'm not nervous at all for the ( 2006 ) Games; I'm just excited. Chicago is the greatest LGBT sports city in the United States. I don't think there's any doubt or debate about that. I'm so excited we get to show it off.

'Even though the Gay Games is a sports and cultural event, it really is a pride festival. People get together from different countries, of different ages, races and languages, and we celebrate who we are as a people. Imagine the ( annual ) Gay Pride Parade and multiply it 100 times, that is what the Gay Games will be like. It's just one big party. It's hard to put the excitement into words.'

Suffice it to say, Halsted Street in Lakeview and Clark Street in Andersonville will be the same—a week-long Market Days-like fiesta.

'The Gay Games isn't just for the best ( athletes ) ; it's about participation,' Grey said. 'The caring, sharing and the celebration is what I'm looking forward to.'

Especially since it wasn't too long ago that female athletes didn't participate in sports, including the inaugural Gay Games in San Francisco, where there were not many women.

It was Grey, though, who helped pave the female path to Gay Games glory.

'Women have the opportunity now, and that's the greatest thing,' she said.

Grey's sporting legacy in the LGBT community dates back 25 years, when she saw a sign for softball tryouts posted in a bar. Grey went and so started her amazing athletic adventure.

She was one of only a few females in the predominantly male league in 1980.

'That was the greatest thing that ever happened—getting involved with gay sports,' she said. 'It's hard for people now to realize what it was like years ago, when we were just getting started.'

She was a part of the Gay Athletic Association, predecessor to CMSA. Grey even served on its Board of Directors, always promoting the cause for women's sports. That led to women's volleyball, softball, basketball, tennis, bowling and racquetball, and, ultimately, touch football.

'In 1982, I heard some of the guys came back from this thing called the Gay Games and I couldn't believe that this wonderful thing existed. However, no one was organizing the women ( for the Games ) ,' said Grey, who quickly formed Team Chicago, bound for the '86 Games in San Francisco.

For the 1990 Games in Vancouver, Grey was elected first female co-president of the Federation of Gay Games.

Grey formed the Golden Girls at age 58 and has long been a strong advocate for participation by seniors in all sports.


Age: 32

Hometown: Chicago ( Edgewater )

Status: Single

College: University of Wisconsin.

Hobbies: Reading and painting.

Favorite Restaurant: Meritage ( in Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood ) .

It's a Fact: Lived for eight months in Florence, Italy. Speaks Italian.

While at Milwaukee's Pius XI High School in the early-1990s, Dave Wagner was a four-sport athlete: basketball, football, tennis and baseball—the latter of which was his best.

Wagner then moved across state, to the Madison campus of the University of Wisconsin, where he was an opposite hitter and setter for the Badgers' club volleyball team.

Wagner has been in Chicago since 1999, an attorney for the past seven years, and quite involved in the local sporting scene. Wagner, 32, is now a five-sport stud: football, basketball, volleyball, tennis and softball.

He's a volleyball player who's switched to setter for Chicago Boom. He's an A-Division football player for T's, splitting time between wide receiver and defensive back. He's a point guard in the Intermediate League for b-ball. Wagner plays singles and doubles tennis. And, he's a left fielder and first baseman on the softball fields of Chicago.

'I've grown up with sports,' Wagner said. 'It's something you can completely lose yourself in, forget about things that are part of your everyday life. Sports are an outlet from the real world, an escape, a great way to take your mind and focus away from everything else around you.'

Wagner's team ( Chicago Surge ) finished fifth this past August in the annual Gay Softball World Series in San Diego. He was on the second-place softball team in the 2000 World Series in Toronto, the highlight of his gay athletic career. Plus, he's won numerous volleyball tournaments.

The 2006 Gay Games in Chicago will be Wagner's first foray on the international sports scene.

'The Games seem like they're very far off, but in reality they're right around the corner,' Wagner said. 'I'm pretty excited about the support for the Games in Chicago and the fact there will be ( thousands of ) people in the city for the Games and there are a lot of corporations stepping up and the city also is stepping up. That's pretty amazing.'

Wagner is a sports commissioner for the Games, focused on volleyball. He plans to compete in indoor volleyball and softball, time permitting.

'I've competed in a lot of national tournaments, but it's rare that you get to see—and go against—international competition. That's very cool, and what separates the Gay Games from your average weekend tournament,' he said. 'I'm excited, not nervous. I don't really get nervous for sports. I'm anxious for the high level of competition that we'll see in all of the sports. And just meeting other gay people from all over the world will be exciting, fun.'

But Wagner's motivation for the Games is clear: 'I want to win,' he said.

This article shared 2692 times since Wed Jan 11, 2006
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