CWRU staff, students reflect on Gay Games experiences

The 2014 Gay Games concluded last Saturday with celebratory closing ceremonies in downtown Cleveland. The games saw more than 9,000 athletes compete in 35 different events across Northeast Ohio—four of which were held at Case Western Reserve University’s Veale Convocation, Recreation and Athletic Center.

Case Western Reserve had at least six representatives participate in the games. In an earlier article in the daily, each participant discussed his or her sport or activity, why it was important to get involved in the games and what aspect of the games they were most excited about.

We recently caught up with each of them to find out how they fared, what their favorite part of the week was and how they thought Northeast Ohio served as host of Gay Games 9.

Sarah Robinson

sarah robinson
Sarah Robinson performing at the Festival Village

Position at CWRU: Assistant Director of the Schubert Center for Child Studies; Master’s student in French

Activity/Sport: Dancer in the opening ceremonies; performed with LED (light-emitting diode) fans during Festival Village (Aug. 10)

Can you describe your experience performing at the opening ceremonies and the Festival Village?
I loved hearing the audience cheer after the performance I was part of, “Rubber and Rock,” a tribute to Akron and Rock and Roll, to a version of the song Proud Mary. I was thrilled to dance with such a great group of Clevelanders to kick-off the two hours of ceremony celebrations and entertainment. (Quicken Loans Arena) was packed with people with electric energy. I’ll never forget that! My parents also attended, which means a lot to me. Festival Village was a blast. I was able to connect with people (and the music) through my art during DJ Gauthreaux’s set, which is really a dream come true.

Bill Coller

Bill Coller
Bill Coller with Team Alaska

Position at CWRU: Applications developer in the School of Graduate Studies and School of Law

Activity/Sport: 5k; half-marathon

Finished: Seventh of 35 in the 5k; seventh of 29 in the half marathon (1:44:25)

What was your favorite part/aspect of the week?
So many things made an incredible week. Besides running and finishing the half-marathon, volunteering for accreditation and volleyball​ were my favorites. I got to meet so many people from around the United States and the world. I would run into them throughout the week and catch up on how they were enjoying their week and time in Cleveland and Akron. It was so much fun.

Stuart Oakes

Stuart Oakes
Stuart Oakes sporting his gold medal

Position at CWRU: Associate Director of Prospect Management in the Advancement Services Department

Sport/Activity: Swimming; singing in the chorus

Finished: Gold in men’s 200-meter medley relay; three personal bests in 50-meter sprint times

What was your favorite part/aspect of the week?
I was in awe of the level of shared purpose and camaraderie displayed by my fellow athletes. The goodwill was amazing! It was the friendliest competition I have ever experienced. I was very moved by the dedication of athletes coming from places like Russia, the United Arab Emirates and places in East Asia, where they face real threats participating in something like the Gay Games.


Paul Cheng

Paul Cheng
Left to right: Kyle Thomas, Neil Anderson, Paul Cheng, and Chris Williams

Position at CWRU: MD/PhD student in the Medical Scientist Training Program

Activity/Sport: Competitive swimming

Finished: Cleveland Aquatic Team: seventh individually; gold in mixed 200-meter free relay; silver in men’s individual 50-meter freestyle; bronze in 200-meter medley relay.

How did Cleveland/Akron do as host cities?
I think they did an amazing job because so many local LGBT folks had a perfect week to show how much of a community already exists here. Local businesses opened up their doors; CWRU hosted so many events. I also have to put in a plug for the medical community, too, which really put in a huge effort to use this as a teachable moment for local practitioners who will undoubtedly encounter LGBT athletes and patients in their careers.


Nicola Goodall

Nicola Goodall
Nicola Goodall wearing one of the multiple medals she earned

Position at CWRU: Project Manager in the Department of Ophthalmology, School of Medicine

Activity/Sport: Swimming individual events and relays

Finished: Two silver medals; three bronze medals for age group in individual events (50-meter freestyle, 50-meter, 100-meter and 200-meter breaststroke, 50-meter backstroke). Two gold medals; one bronze medal in relays (200-meter mixed free relay, 200-meter women’s medley relay, 400-meter mixed medley relay).

How did Cleveland/Akron do as host cities?
Northeast Ohio really presented itself as a fantastic host to the games. Throughout the week, we heard about visitors commenting on Cleveland and Akron’s cleanness, affordability, excellent sports facilities and the residents’ friendliness and helpfulness. Seeing the rainbow flags all over the city, the rainbow lasers, and Terminal Tower in all its glory made Cleveland appear especially welcoming.


Brian Thornton

Brian Thornton
Brian Thornton with Pandora Boxx, the celebrity emcee for the week at the Gay Games Festival Village

Position at CWRU: Director of Communications and Marketing, College of Arts and Sciences; double alum

Activity/Sport: Co-chair of Festival Village committee, running in the 5k Rotary

How did you perform in your event and position as co-chair of the Festival Village committee?
In my sporting event, the 5k, I achieved a personal best, which was a phenomenal achievement considering a 5:30 a.m. wake-up time after working a 10-hour day the night before. In my bigger contribution, as co-chair of the six-day Gay Games Festival Village, I couldn’t be prouder of the team of volunteers who created an event that the international organizers and participants said was larger and better produced than any past Festival Village.

Visit for more results from the 2014 Gay Games.