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  WINDY CITY TIMES

THE SPORTING LIFE Drew Ladochi
by Ross Forman, Windy City Times
2018-12-11

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Win or lose, Drew Ladochi always has fun playing gay sports—always.

Take, for instance, the registration parties for gay softball tournaments. Ladochi's teams are the ones wearing blue wigs.

"I wanted something we could do that would be fun and start our weekend off right," said Ladochi, who has 14 blue wigs in storage—for safe keeping.

Wigs have escalated into bubble guns, sidewalk chalk, crazy legging Sundays, and whatever blue thing they can find, he said. "My team knows I prefer for us to have fun and this keeps us in good spirits."

Ladochi, 33, lives in Chicago's Andersonville neighborhood and is an operations partner for a Pearle Vision franchise that will be opening this winter in Chicago. He has lived in Chicago for eight years, moving here from Michigan.

His gay sports journey includes softball, kickball, beach volleyball, indoor volleyball, dodgeball and ultimate—all through the Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association ( CMSA ). He also has played bocce with Stonewall.

"I managed a [softball] team my first year playing because I was concerned I wouldn't be picked for a team. I was able to put all of my friends on one team, but I didn't really know what I was doing," Ladochi admitted with a smile. "We had several practices before our season started that helped us learn how to play.

"I started playing gay sports after I witnessed the fun I could be having. My friend played on a team that was really friendly and all LGBT. I wasn't comfortable playing sports growing up because I was bullied by the other boys. [But] I saw this as an opportunity to participate and have fun.

"My favorite thing about gay sports is that I've been able to meet some really great people. I moved to Chicago and didn't really know anyone. I took a chance on joining a random volleyball team that turned into my new crew here. We do a lot together now, including 'family' vacations and dinners."

Ladochi's sporting journey also has included walking with CMSA in this year's Pride Parade—with one of his blue wigs and crazy leggings, of course.

"It was awesome being able to see all that energy at the parade," he said. "It was entertaining watching the people on the CMSA float trying to get beads into people's windows and on balconies where people were watching the parade. Target-practice was the new sport we were playing that day."

Ladochi said his best sport is kickball, with basketball being his worst.

"I've become more confident in myself and have grown to love playing sports," he said.

Ladochi said he prefers to play third base in softball, but is willing to play anywhere, including on the bench, he said.

"I'm just here to have fun and get a couple games in," in the CMSA open Sunday softball league, he said.

"I started coaching in Chicago [in] 2012 with beach volleyball, followed by fall softball. I ended up coaching for dodgeball, kickball, [open Sunday] softball, and indoor volleyball over the years. I try to give people a chance on my teams if they want to join a league or try a sport. The only problem is making room for a new player when you already have a full roster. I am always willing to try and help a player find a team with the people I've met."

Extra innings with … Drew Ladochi

—Favorite pro sports team: Chicago Cubs

—Favorite pro athlete: Javier Baez

—Favorite pro sports stadium: "I don't really have one."

—If you could attend any pro sports event/game, what would it be?: "[The] Olympics, if that counts."


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