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Honoring the 2013 Chicago LGBT Athletes of the Year
by Ross Forman, Windy City Times
2013-12-23

This article shared 21 times since Mon Dec 23, 2013
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Colleen Mulhern had quite a memorable 2013 sports season—on multiple fields of play.

Let's see, her spring flag football team gave up six points all season; her fall flag football team advanced to the championship game; her basketball team held a competitive team to 18 points in a game; and she bowled a 240-game.

"Our playoff run in the winter basketball league was pretty spectacular, but I also won four closest-to-the-pins/longest-drive competitions in our golf league, and I feel like golf is the sport that I experience the least amount of success in. So, it felt really good to win four times throughout the summer."

In fact, she won the longest drive title ( about 230 yards ) at the Girls in the Game charity golf tournament on June 17 at Chevy Chase Golf Course in Wheeling, earning a free flight on United Airlines, and she plans to use it in early 2014, likely to Las Vegas.

"The best thing about participating [for 15] years in sports is the long lasting friendships that I have built," Mulhern said. "I continue to play multiple sports every season of the year and I still play on teams with some of the same people as I did 15 years ago. It balances out my work life and I look forward to every sport that I play. I always joke that I have about four good years left in me before I have to sto p playing competitively and start playing recreationally. I am just not there yet, but when I finally get there, I will be ready with my cotton shorts, elbow and knee pads to protect my aging bones."

Mulhern, 37, who lives in Anderson and is the vice president of operations at Kemora Landscapes, is "happily dating a beautiful woman," she said.

Her 2013 sporting slate also included softball in the competitive division, and she was on championship teams in spring flag football and winter basketball.

Mulhern's athletic achievements earned her the 2013 Chicago Female LGBT Athlete of the Year, as voted by a poll of fellow gay athletes.

"Participating in sports leagues has been really important to me over the past 15 years," Mulhern said. "I really do love sports and competition. I have met so many wonderful people through all of the sports leagues that I participate in, [such as] the Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association ( CMSA ) and the Athletic Alliance of Chicago ( AAC ). I have so much gratitude for the leagues and the organizations because it gives me an avenue to still participate in sports when I am 37 years old. For that, I am eternally grateful."

Mulhern has also in the past played soccer and volleyball—"neither very well," she said, laughing. She also has played tennis.

Mulhern said she plans to play multiple sports next August at Gay Games 9 in Cleveland.

—Favorite pro sport: Football

—Favorite pro team: Chicago Bulls

—Favorite pro athlete: Peyton Manning

Additional photo spread at the link: www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/photospreadthumbs.php .

MULTI-TALENTED MALE:

Charles A. Richardson was the captain/coach for the Chicago Freeze flag football team that competed in the annual Gay Bowl, held in Phoenix in October. The team finished fifth of 30 teams.

"The best part was the camaraderie and the positive attitudes towards each other," Richardson said. "As with many teams, there are divas, queens and princesses along with everyone else, but my role was to turn them into a team of football players who could compete with the best gay flag football teams in the country. I think we accomplished that, particularly since this was a new group of players. I'm proud to have been able to work with them."

Richardson's sporting leadership also was seen in 2013 with his highlight event: winning a national championship with the high school rowing team that he has coached for almost four years.

"In the four spring seasons in my tenure, we went to Nationals three times, placing 3rd twice and finally winning it all this past spring. I was luckily enough to have a group of very talented and highly motivated athletes which made my job easier. I will never forget that experience with the kids, the parents and my fellow coaches."

Richardson, 39, lives in Andersonville, is "dating someone special," and works as an interoperability product analyst at Optum.

He played fall flag football for the North End Thundercats and also in 2013 competed with the Lincoln Park Boat Club.

Richardson is the 2013 Chicago Male LGBT Athlete of the Year.

"I've played sports all my life, but have focused on football, basketball, and rowing, with rowing giving me the most success competitively," Richardson said. "My rowing story started in high school, but then I left the sport after the fall season my freshman year in college. I returned in 2002 after returning to Boston where my then-partner suggested doing something to get my mind off of a stressful time of my life."

Football and basketball were the first gay sports he played while a student at Northeastern University in Boston, and they "introduced me to a diverse community of athletes that I did not know existed," he said. "I've met and maintained some of my closest family of friends through gay sports."

Richardson competed with the Lincoln Park Boat Club at the U.S. Rowing Master's Nationals in Sarasota, Fla., and he returned to Chicago with two medals. "After a couple years of very limited rowing and training due to a surgery ( hip arthroscopy ) and multiple injuries, it was fantastic, re-energizing and reassuring that I could still compete at a high level and be allowed to row with such a great squad," he said.

Richardson said the overall highlight of his gay sporting career was the Chicago Gay Games in 2006, where he played flag football with the Boston Hancocks, as well as winning a couple medals in rowing with Boston BayBlades.

"The [2006] experience of being among so many gay athletes was overwhelming and inspirational. I hope to return to the Gay Games in 2014," he said.

Richardson has played gay sports for about 15 years.

"I use gay sports as an outlet for fun athletic activity away from the corporate game and all my coaching responsibilities, so I tend to stray away from doing anything too serious in my private time," he said. "However, as my body continues to scream at me to 'cut the bullsh*t,' I think stepping in to help some of the leagues would be fun."

Richardson added: "One of the many values of gay sports is its inclusionary nature. Anyone, LGBTQ or straight, with any level of athletic talent can join a league and share an experience that will remain with them forever. Often enough, many gay athletes either didn't participate in sports or stayed closeted due to their own deep, personal reasons to which I'm also guilty. Gay sports provide an outlet for like-minded athletes to participate in sport without judgment or exclusion."

The Richardson-led Freeze lost their two Gay Bowl games in the top-tiered A-Division by a combined total of four points.

"Tournament teams are never easy to manage. Successful captains have to find a way to convince a disparate group of talented players to sacrifice individual considerations for the common good of the team," said Andrew Burke, of Chicago. "Charles ranks among the very best leaders in this regard. He worked tirelessly to be prepared: from running months of practices, to player management, to in-game decisions. He has an extraordinary ability to manage strong egos to create a cohesive team environment. People respect Charles for his discipline, work ethic and his willingness to put the success of the team above individual considerations."

Richardson also plays competitive CMSA basketball.

—Favorite pro sport: Football

—Favorite pro team: Washington Redskins

—Favorite pro athlete: "I'm not sure I have a favorite as I admire many different athletes from many different sports, but I admit I'm drawn to those with leadership qualities more than pure talent or groundbreakers. Groundbreakers include Aquil Abdullah, first black Olympic sculler; Shani Davis, [African-American] gold medal-winning speed skater; or Cullen Jones, a Black Olympic swimmer. Leaders include Kevin Durant and Tim Duncan from the NBA, as they tend to put their heads down and simply do the work without a lot of spectacle, plus, London Fletcher and Ray Lewis from the NFL as their passion, excitement and longevity in the game shows their desire to continue their excellence for as long as possible eventually making them strong leaders for their teams."


This article shared 21 times since Mon Dec 23, 2013
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