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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-02-22



Gay in the Life: Mark Sakalares
by Ross Forman, Windy City Times

This article shared 4873 times since Wed Jun 25, 2014
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Mark Sakalares has had so many fond memories playing sports in the local gay leagues, including multiple sports over the past nine years within the Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association ( CMSA ). During that stretch, Sakalares has:

—Been a part of three national championship basketball teams;

—Played in two Gay Softball World Series;

—Played on a team that went 19-1 in the regular-season of the CMSA Open Sunday Softball league; and

—Been the commissioner of basketball when the league merged into CMSA.

His sporting resume got a bit bigger in late March, when he was named the Greg Walsh Award-winner, presented annually since 2010 to honor Greg Walsh, a part of the basketball league who passed away suddenly.

"Greg was a fierce competitor and a guy who helped with the league for many years. Greg would do anything for anyone and would never ask for anything in return," said Sakalares, who joins a prestigious list of past award-winners: Doug King, Michael McRaith, Frank Kisner and Marcus Han. "To be thought of in the same breath with the previous winners was extremely humbling. I knew Greg and of course all of the previous recipients. All of them are people I have a great deal of admiration and respect for. I am honored that others feel I belong in their company."

Sakalares knew Walsh since the Gay Games in Chicago in 2006.

"I had no idea about being selected for the award. My partner was aware and he kept the secret very well," said Sakalares, who has been on the CMSA executive board for five years.

"Being able to be part of such a great organization, working with so many great, brilliant people is something I can take so much from. I have great trophies and memories from the [games], but [also] I have learned so much by being on the board with these truly amazing people."

Sakalares has played in the annual Coady Roundball Classic basketball tournament for years. He also plays softball, bowling, golf and billiards.

"CMSA is more than a simple sports organization. We bring people together," Sakalares said. "I've heard countless times how we have been an avenue for people within our community that, if it wasn't for CMSA, they don't know where they'd be today. I have been privileged to be a part of that. To help build CMSA to what it has become today, I am very proud to say that CMSA is one of the largest, if not the largest, LGBTQ sports organizations in the U.S.

"CMSA has been, and continues to be, about inclusion. We feel that by including our straight brothers and sisters in what we do that [it] will only lead to more understanding of the trials our community faces, thus harbor more acceptance/inclusion that crosses all boundaries."

Sakalares added, "CMSA has brought me so much that I can never repay. Friendships new and old. It's brought me a sense of community, a sense of being a part of something greater that makes a difference and that means a great deal to so many."


Age: 52

Neighborhood: Rogers Park

Relationship status: Partnered/engaged

Job title: Supervisory Special Agent for a nationally-recognized insurance organization

Favorite movie: Shawshank Redemption

Favorite sports to play: Golf and softball

Favorite pro sports teams: Chicago Cubs, Bears, Bulls and Blackhawks

Hobbies: "Pretty much anything sports-related"

Little-known fact: "I used to ride horses professionally with the American Quarter Horse Association. I competed in rodeo-type events all over the country. I also am a father and grandfather."

This article shared 4873 times since Wed Jun 25, 2014
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