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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Countdown to the Gay Games
by Ross Forman
2006-02-08

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MARY GERRITY

Age: 64

Hometown: Chicago ( Northwest side )

Born & raised: Chicago ( South Side )

Status: partner Kathy Winsor, 44

Former: CTA bus driver.

Retired: April 1, 2003, after 17 years

Part-time: Works as an usher at Wrigley Field

Recovering: Had surgery on her left foot over the winter

Hobbies: Biking, skiing, kayaking, hiking and golf

Sport: Softball

Position: Pitcher

Local teams: Bous ( B Division ) and Crush ( C )

It's a Fact: Has played in three Gay Softball World Series, including the 2005 Series in San Diego

Also a Fact: Has four brothers, one sister

Her childhood dream while growing up a Chicago White Sox fan was to become the first woman in the major leagues. Well, last season she finally made it to the majors … with the Chicago Cubs—as a Wrigley Field usher, not a Cubs player.

Mary Gerrity, 64, is now a Cubs fan who idolized Ron Santo. 'I just enjoy meeting the public, and the excitement that you get at Wrigley Field is awesome,' said Gerrity, who was stationed in different locations at Wrigley for each game last year, although her favorite section was the terrace reserve down the third-base line. 'The view from there is real nice and, during the really hot days, you get the shade.'

Did any foul balls come her way?

'Yeah. I didn't see it coming, but I heard it. It was about six feet away when it hit a seat,' Gerrity said. 'I'm enjoying life very much nowadays; and softball and sports are very much a part of it.'

Gerrity doesn't just work at and watch the action, you see. She has played recreational softball for about 30 years, 'which is something I never envisioned doing,' she said. Gerrity plays on two teams ( Bous and Crush ) in two divisions ( B and C ) . She started playing when she was 30.

She will be in her first-ever Gay Games this summer, though she has played three times in the annual NAGAA Gay Softball World Series, including the 2005 edition in San Diego. 'I'm very excited for the Games, though I'm very curious to see what the competition is going to be like, especially what cities and what countries are participating,' she commented. 'I consider myself very fortunate to be in excellent health, with no problems, especially since I know a lot of younger people with debilitating injuries, illnesses and sicknesses. I know I'm very, very lucky.'

Heck, many of her softball teammates and opponents are in their 20s and 30s. Even her partner, Kathy Winsor, is 20 years younger.

'It's awesome, terrific getting out there and competing,' Gerrity said. 'My goal for the Games is simple: win, win, win. I bring experience, a desire to win and a confidence in my ability to pitch. The key to softball pitching is, to be able to judge a 6- to 12-foot arc, and to be able to fool the batter into believing that 12-feet is going to be a ball.'

Is that difficult?

Not anymore, she said. 'It kind of comes naturally … because I've been doing it for so long and just have that eye for distance and that feeling of where the ball is going to go.'

Gerrity has previously played 16- and 12-inch softball. She now plays the 11-inch version—and is playing quite well, thank you.

KIEN TRAN

Age: 29

Hometown: San Francisco

Background: Lived in Vietnam for 14 years before moving to Michigan and, ultimately, Northern California in 2000.

First name pronunciation: Key-en

High School: Lansing ( Mich. ) Catholic Central; Class of 1996.

College: St. Thomas Aquinas College, Class of 2000

Hobbies: kick-boxing and rock-climbing

It's a fact: Is one of 10 in his family and the second-youngest.

Speaks: Vietnamese, French and English

Status: Single, gay

Sport: Track & field

Events: 100-, 200- and 400-meters; 400-meter hurdles; and triple-jump.

Kien Tran was once the loneliness of the long-distance runner come to life … because he then had not come out as gay. His family would ask who he was dating and he would just leave the house, avoid the subject and start running.

He eventually told his family that he was gay while a freshman at a small private Catholic college in Michigan. 'When I came out, I thought I would lose everything that I had earned up to that point. But that didn't happen. In fact, it enhanced everything else,' he said. 'It's like I became free once I came out. My family was, and still is, very supportive.

'My college was a different scene since it was a Catholic school. Being a gay athlete, let alone a gay Asian athlete, was not too easy. The majority of the people around me were homophobic. But, in a way, that motivated me to beat them. I even think my ( college ) coach was homophobic, but that just pushed me.

'I knew I was not in the same circles as most of the people on my team, but that didn't really affect me. That really was just my motivation.'

Tran is now living and running all around Northern California, training with Team San Francisco Track & Field. He will compete at Gay Games VII this July in Chicago in several races—and expects to win all of them.

'I'm confident because I'm in the best shape of my life, even faster than I was in college,' Tran said. 'I'm training with a great group of people here, which makes it fun. And when you have fun, you get better and keep improving.'

This past October, Tran competed in a track event in Santa Barbara, Calif., and he won all six events in his age-division.

'I'm training very hard now, cutting out alcohol and caffeine. I'm ready for the Gay Games,' he said. 'I know, if I train hard and stay healthy, the results will show.'

The 100- and 200-meter runs are his best. The triple-jump is his worst, he said.

'When I first moved to the U.S., running was just the easiest thing to do of any sport. It doesn't cost much; all you need is a pair of running shoes,' Tran said. 'Actually, my ( college ) coach gave me my first pair of running shoes because I was running bare-foot, and that doesn't work too well in Michigan in the winter.

'I had an immediate love-affair with running. Sure, a lot of that had to do with the fact that I was dealing with my identity of being gay.'

Tran is dedicating the Gay Games to his dad, Diep, who died in 2003. 'He's always on my mind. He's my biggest motivation,' Tran said.


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