Kayla Cormier is part of the reigning, three-time Spirit Champions kickball team through the Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association ( CMSA ).
Her Bagel Bumpers team started with a few friends and, over time, has grownsome who were never athletic, some former college athletes, and others who just wanted to join a community.
"Gay sports have given me an awesome community of people I may not have met otherwise. I really like that it keeps me moving and trying something new. It also gives me a reason to get out of the house on cold nights in January," she said.
Cormier, 30, who lives in Chicago's Andersonville neighborhood and is a Scattered Site Case Manager for Facing Forward. She has lived in the Windy City for the past six years, moving here from Boston.
Cormier also is the CMSA women's dodgeball commissioner, and her eighth year in gay sports.
"I was terrible at basketball, [which was my first gay sport], but I had a lot of fun. It was fantastic to find community in sportsomething I have always loved," she said. "I am excited to see leagues becoming more inclusive. While I was on the CMSA board, I advocated to create a more welcome and affirming space for folks who might not neatly fit under the gender binary umbrella. League-wide, more specifically in women's dodgeball, I have experienced a shift toward more acceptance. In general, it's been great to see more variety in the makeup of the league in a lot of ways. But, there is always more to be done."
Cormier has played basketball, dodgeball, kickball, softball, Ultimate Frisbee, beach volleyball and indoor volleyball. She no longer plays volleyball or Ultimate. "I really enjoy playing more of the fun, recreational sports with the Bagel Bumpers," she said.
"I love the community created through this arena. I love the ability to connect with all types of queer people throughout the city. My goal is to make every league, team, and event that I am part of more fun and welcoming. I grew up playing sports year-round and it has always been a way for me to connect and have a good time. Sports don't have to be hyper competitive to be fun."
Through sports, Cormier met her partner, Kelly.
Cormier is in her third season as commissioner of the women's Friday night dodgeball league, which kicked off Jan. 18 at Pottawatomie Park. Her role includes outreach and promotion to grow the league; getting everything set so that games run smoothly; planning and negotiating social events; and making sure everyone has a good time.
So what's the appeal of dodgeball?
"What better thing to do on a Friday night in January, but to take out your extra energy from the week on the dodgeball court," she said. "It's not your typical sport, like softball or soccer, which people generally play competitively. It's a physical education game that shakes things up a bit and takes people out of their comfort zone.
"On a more personal note, I love it because, as a former field hockey goalie, I am accustomed to being all over the ground when I play. Most other sports don't really call for this."
Away from the sports scene, Cormier was part of the leadership for Gay for Good Chicago, an organization that hosted monthly volunteer events for LGBT folks to give back to their community. "I have also cultivated a group of folks who have played Bagel Bumper sports present and past to attend different queer community or just local events. I also really enjoy attending gay cinema, [such as the] Reeling Film Festival and Dyke Delicious," she said.
Cormier said she wants to play basketball again, though admittedly she still is a sub-par play. And she also wants to compete in a future Gay Games.
Extra Innings With ... Kayla Cormier
Favorite Pro Sports Teams: Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox
Favorite Pro Athlete: Serena Williams
Favorite Pro Sports Stadium: Fenway Park
Pro Athlete She'd Like To Meet: Serena Williams
One Pro Sports Event/Game That She'd Like To Attend: The FIFA Women's World Cup or the Olympics