Gay Games VII: San Francisco Rock Dogs play hard

Photo Credit: Nicolas Smith
Rock Dogs player Rory Ray is a sports monster. While many competitors here at the Gay Games work hard to compete in one sport, Ray spends his days in Chicago running back and forth between two highly physical events—basketball and flag football. A former San Francisco resident who recently moved back to Southern California to be here his five best friends—his brothers, with whom he is very close—Ray keeps his Northern California connection open by continuing to play with the Rock Dogs. He also plays flag football with the Outsports Flag Football team from LA, where he gets to compete alongside teammate and former NFL star Esera Tuaolo.

We sat down with Ray later in the evening at the Team SF party after he had finished two basketball games and two football games. And sit down we did, because the poor guy couldn't have stood another minute. Nevertheless, Ray kept up a smile and witty banter throughout the interview. What a trooper.

How many years have you been competing on each team?
On the Rock Dogs, I have been on the team with DeMarco and the guys [since the team first began]—a long time. And Outsports I just joined this year.

What kind of sports did you play in high school and college?
I played basketball for sure, football, and ran track [in high school]. I did a year of college basketball, and I had a sort of coming out disaster with the coaches, and decided that I wanted to go to school for academics rather than... It was unpleasant, but things worked out well so I can't complain.

How do you juggle being on two teams here at the Games?
It was really hard today—I had two basketball games and two football games. The only way I was able to make both was that football was running an hour late.

Tomorrow I'm going to play basketball at 10, football at 11:30, the last half of the basketball game at 12:45 or so, and then football again after that. It's a juggle.

What positions do you play for each sport?
For basketball it really depends on the court. The good thing about the Rock Dogs is that because we're all about the same height, we don't have true centers or [other positions]. I'm more guard-esque, but if you want to run I can play forward, so it all just depends on the court.

On football I'm wide receiver, and today I [also] played rusher, defensive end, and linebacker.

Have you gotten hurt yet?
Surprisingly, this is the first time in a lot of tournaments I haven't gotten hurt. I'm pretty aggressive. At the basketball tournament in San Francisco I had six stitches [near my eye], and in a basketball practice in Los Angeles I had seven staples in my head. So I haven't gotten hurt yet, but it's likely to happen.

What do you like about being on a gay team?
I played basketball and sports my whole life. [I like] the fact that I can be silly and playful, in a less machismo way, on the gay team. You can be yourself. You don't have to worry about acting a certain way and being tough all the time.

You don't have to worry. You can make a mistake, and your teammates will say "Get up girl."

It's nice to have teammates around who are your friends. We've been through a lot together, and we do a lot of things together outside of basketball. It's friendship, and it's camaraderie.

Have you met a lot of people at the Games so far?
I have. I'm a pretty personable person. A lot of the people I already know, but there are a lot of new faces. It's always nice to meet new people.