The 1st World Outgames wrapped up yesterday afternoon with everyone back where we started, at the Montreal Olympic Stadium for a huge party, headlined by Liza Minnelli. Before she performed, the Outgames were officially closed by the co-presidents and the Outgames flag was passed on to a contingent from Copenhagen, where the 2nd World Outgames will be held in 2009. In addition, two “continental” versions of the games were announced: 2007 North American Outgames in Calgary and a Pan-Pacific Outgames in Melbourne in 2008.
Even though the Wizards didn’t medal, the Outgames experience is one I will never forgot. In fact, I think winning a medal would’ve just been icing on the cake to the rest of the important achievements and experiences the games brought.
First and foremost, just getting to the Outgames was the actual goal. In the summer of 2002, when NYCGHA members returned from the Gay Games in Australia, I decided that I wanted to get my game good enough to go to the games in 2006. Just by showing up and playing the games, I achieved that goal.
Being a part of the opening ceremonies was one of the single greatest events I’ve ever been a part of. Days later I still don’t have the right words to describe how it felt to walk in to Olympic Stadium with my teammates, as part of the U.S. contingent and with the thousands of other athletes… music thumping, countries being announced and another few thousand of people in the stands. It was a feeling that I will never forget. And, of course, made all the better because Will was right there by my side for the whole thing.
Scoring in the second game of our competition, in what turned out to be one of the very few goals the Wizards would score at the Outgames, was also a once-in-a-lifetime moment. It was my first time to score in a major tournament, not to mention my first time to have a goal announced over a rink’s sound system. And for it to be an important goal, one that clinched the period win for the team, was all the more special.
Playing with the Wizards was great. They made me feel instantly welcome to their ranks and it was fun getting some ice time with these folks who I usually play against on the Ordinals. The way the Wizards play together and click together is something I want to work on replicating on the Ordinals. The Wizards know exactly what they are doing and how to be there for each other.
I truly think the Outgames was the best hockey I have ever played. Not only did it feel right, but Johannes, Brian and Jeff T were kind enough to say so too. Coming from those guys that meant a lot. I certainly had errors in each game, but they weren’t too costly… and still, overall, it was good hockey. I’m looking forward to growing my skills even more. Just because the games are over, doesn’t mean the practice is. Who knows, maybe I’ll go for the Calgary games in ’07.
The Outgames were awesome. Hopefully it was the start of something that will have a long and distinguished life.