Featured in the July/ August 2018 Issue of Compete Magazine
The Minnesota Gray Ducks are Paris-bound this August for their first Gay Games ever. The Ducks, spawned as a new club in 2017 in preparation for the Games, are sending what could be the most competitive soccer team from the U.S. The team slowly formed over the course of 16 months to incorporate not only the best LGBTQ soccer players in Minnesota but also some of the top LGBTQ soccer players exiting the college level of play.
LGBTQ soccer veteran Ryan Adams founded the Gray Ducks soccer club and also manages the Paris-bound team. Adams named the team after the Minnesota tradition of Duck Duck Gray Duck, more commonly known as Duck Duck Goose elsewhere. Adams explained, “The Minnesota tradition is something that makes us unique as a state. When we play the game you can use colors, adjectives, emotions, etc. The name is very suiting for our inclusive LGBTQ and allied team in that we all identify differently, whether that’s being gay, a statistician or a pizza lover, the priority of it will vary. That’s one reason why we’re all Gray Ducks.”
Adams has led teams to the Sin City Classic the past three years in addition to the IGLFA North America and World Championships in 2015 and 2016. The highest accomplishment has been a second place finish in the World Championships under the lights of the Portland Timbers stadium in Portland after an overtime loss to Vancouver. The Gray Ducks have grown to be the largest LGBT soccer club in Minnesota with over 150 active players across 12 teams in local leagues.
The team’s constructed with 10 LGBTQ and allied players from Minnesota and eight LGBTQ players from out of state. Adam McCabe, one of the few out players in professional soccer is once again on the Ducks roster. McCabe has played professionally in Europe, Thailand and now the U.S. where he plays for the Georgia Revolution FC of the National Premier Soccer League.
Two other highly regarded college players from out of state are Seth Temple from the University of Oregon and Elias Reiland from Sacramento State University. Temple recently played with the Gray Ducks in a Minnesota weekend tournament to get his feet wet with the squad; meanwhile Reiland will join the team for his first time in Paris without any prior exposure.
Getting an adult soccer team to an international tournament is certainly a challenge. From a cost perspective it will take over $40,000 for the 18-person roster to get there. The club has been fortunate to receive support from John Lundsten who has sponsored teams in several Gay Games. Along with Dan O’Donnell and others, Lundsten has a rich history of supporting LGBTQ soccer in the U.S.
The Gray Ducks are looking forward to their first Gay Games appearance. They have high hopes for a medal finish, possibly bringing back the title of the Best Gay Soccer Team in the World, a title that’s been strongly held by Stonewall FC of the U.K. If they do, it will be the first time in over 20 years. You can follow the team’s journey on Facebook and its website, www.grayducks.com.
By Ryan Adams