By Susan Jordan
For the first time, Rochester Pride will include a sports event: the exciting new Roc Pride Games. This year the Games consist of a gay ice hockey tournament and roller derby bouts.
The hockey tournament will feature players from NYC and Long Island at Bill Gray’s Regional Iceplex, 2700 Brighton Henrietta Townline Rd., starting Friday evening, and continuing until 3:30 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday. (See Pride Calendar, www.gayalliance.org and July EC for details).
This innovative event is the brainchild of Chris Woodworth, Director of Programming and Marketing at the Iceplex. He brought his idea to the Gay Alliance and then to the Monroe County Sports Commission, which gave it the stamp of approval.
Chris told The Empty Closet,“The concept initially started as running a hockey tournament during Pride weekend, which would allow us to enhance the players’ experience by incorporating Pride events into the tournament. Once we sat down to discuss this with the Sports Commission, we quickly came up with the idea of adding additional sports and the creation of a pride specific sports invitational – the Roc Pride Games.
“We came up with this idea a little late in the game for it to draw large numbers in its first year,” he continued. “That will play in our favor because we want to make sure we do things correctly, and if it were to get too large too quick, it might jeopardize the participants’ experience. We expect this year to be a smaller event, and possibly just a gay hockey tournament with four to eight teams competing. All of the games will be scheduled around the key Pride events so that all players will be able to participate in them.
“We have a great working relationship with the Sports Commission, so I was not shocked at all of their support. They are experts at these types of events and know a good concept when they see one. The fact that they are willing to back this to the level they are shows the true potential of what the Pride Games can become.
“NYC has a large gay hockey league and many other large cities in the Northeast do also. Hockey is unique when compared to other sports because it is played all around the world. The European view of homosexuality is more liberal than that of North Americans – although our society is quickly coming around. There are no openly gay hockey players at this point, but with the recent coming out of a player in the NBA, I would bet money that a hockey player comes out of the closet within the next year.
“I see the Pride games growing very quickly and eventually having numerous sporting events during Pride weekend. There does not seem to be any other city doing something like this as a part of their Pride, so it makes this unique. We are in the geographic center of the Northeast, so it is easy for people to travel here and we have a large gay population. I feel that this event will become a core part of Rochester Pride, adding a new family friendly layer that will potentially bring thousands of visitors into Rochester, all of which will be able to see our great city and participate in the Pride festivities.”
Roc City Roller Derby
Roc City Roller Derby will be part of the Pride Games, starting on July 19. There will also be a July 20 bout, time TBA. All bouts take place at Bill Gray’s Iceplex.
Roc City Roller Derby (501c3 non-profit athletic organization) was formed in 2008, started bouting in public in 2009, and became members of Women’s Flat Track Derby Association in the fall of 2011. There are two Travel Teams: the Roc Stars and the B-Sides, who bout against teams from Leagues in other cities in spring and summer, and three Home Teams: the Rottenchesters, the Midtown Maulers, and the 5-H8-5s, who bout against each other in the fall.
The Roc Stars placed second in a tournament of NYS Leagues in Long Island over Labor Day Weekend 2012. There are 111 League members.