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Gay tennis coach reaches 1st NCAA tournament since coming out

LGBT sports roundup: Simon Thibodeau celebrates a big win; busy time around the country for spring sports.

Coach Simon Thibodeau, left, with his UC Santa Barbara women’s tennis team.
Coach Simon Thibodeau, left, with his UC Santa Barbara women’s tennis team.

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Simon Thibodeau, the UC Santa Barbara women's tennis coach, had put his attention on court No. 1. There, sophomore Lou Adler was trying to force a third set, so Thibodeau missed the point on court No. 4 that clinched the Big West Conference tournament title for his Gauchos.

But he and Adler couldn't leave Court 1 fast enough to join the celebration on Court 4.

"We ran to the court and celebrated," Thibodeau said this week in a phone interview. "I was hugging everyone on the team to congratulate them."

UC Santa Barbara, the No. 2 seed in the tournament, won 4-0 against Hawaii, the No. 4 seed, on April 30 at Indian Wells Tennis Garden. The Gauchos reached the tournament championship by beating Cal State Northridge 4-1 in the semifinal and beating UC Davis 4-0 in the quarterfinal.

Jaimee Gilbertson, a junior, clinched the victory against Hawaii with a 7-5, 6-4 win at No. 4 singles.

"It's great because she is the oldest, the one that's been the longest with the program, and we started the rebuilding of this team with her," Thibodeau, who is in his fourth year as UC Santa Barbara head coach, said about Gilbertson. "It was nice that she is the one that clinched it."

The Big West title is the first for UC Santa Barbara since 1996. The victory earned UCSB (18-7 overall) a berth in the NCAA tournament, and it faces Kansas on May 13 at UC Berkeley.

This is Thibodeau's eighth time taking a team to the NCAA tournament. He previously guided Fresno State to the NCAA tournament from 2004-09 and in 2011.

Thibodeau came out publicly as gay in August 2013, making this his first time guiding a team to the NCAA tournament since that milestone.

"It [coming out] was a positive all across for me personally," Thibodeau said. "There is still more to accomplish [with the team], but I'm pretty satisfied with where my life and my career are going since I moved from Fresno to here."

Names in bold are people that have announced publicly they identify as LGBT.

Division I

Tim Cox (junior, Yale men's track and field) raced to a sixth-place finish with a season-best time in the 800 meters (1 minute, 57.11 seconds) on May 1 at home.

Ashley Dai (senior, North Carolina women's tennis) learned May 3 that her Tar Heels (29-2) received the No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament and will open by facing East Tennessee State at home May 13. The winner of that faces the winner of Northwestern and Mississippi on May 14.

Konrad Eiring (freshman, Illinois men's track and field) helped the Illini win the Drake Relays on April 30. Eiring ran the 4x800 relay (7:28.72) and the sprint medley (3:23.05), and both relays took second play. "For a true freshman to step onto that stage and to run a really smart, timed-out leg and hand off in a really good position [was impressive]. He showed a lot of poise and a lot of composure," Illinois distance coach Jake Stewart said in a press release of Eiring's 4x800 race.

Chandler Frumin (sophomore, Tennessee women's rowing) contributed to the first varsity 8's fourth-place finish in 6:46.1 at the Tennessee Invitational Conference Clash on May 1.

Lauren Miranda (senior, Duke women's rowing) helped the No. 2 varsity 8 boat to a time of 6:58.3 and second-place finish in a dual meet at Princeton on April 30. Duke's No. 2 varsity eight boat enters the May 13-14 ACC Championships with a No. 3 seed.

Cavender Salvadori (redshirt sophomore, William & Mary men's track and field) earned the silver medal in the 3,000-meter steeplechase (9:24.38) at the Colonial Athletic Association Championships on Saturday. He also finished eighth in the both the 1,500 meters (4:00.62) and 5,000 meters (15:12.44) at the conference meet, where his team finished second.

Jazmine Sosa (senior, UCLA softball) and Kirk Walker (assistant coach, UCLA softball) went 5-0 the last two weeks, and the No. 13-ranked Bruins (35-13-1) finish second in the Pac-12 Conference to Oregon. Sosa was used as a pinch runner in a 9-4 win against Arizona State on May 1. UCLA learns its postseason destination May 15.

Gavin Studner (senior, Lafayette men's tennis) earned a 7-6 doubles win and lost 7-5, 7-5 at No. 3 singles during his team's 4-2 win against Holy Cross on April 28 during the opening round of the Patriot League Tournament. On April 29, Navy defeated Lafayette 4-0 in the tournament quarterfinals to end the Leopards' season at 4-17.

Jaron Thomas (junior, Colorado men's track and field) won the 400-meter hurdles (52.27 seconds) at Friday's Air Force Twilight Open.

Taylor Tvedt (junior, Lehigh women's lacrosse) made six saves at goalie in a 13-8 season-ending loss to Loyola during Friday's semifinal of the Patriot League tournament. She made nine saves in a 13-6 win against Colgate on May 3 during the quarterfinals. Tvedt started 17 of 18 games in goal as the Mountain Hawks went 13-5, and she allowed 131 goals and made 117 saves this season.

Tanner Williams (senior, Oklahoma men's track and field) did not clear his opening height in pole vault at the Payton Jordan Invitational at Stanford on May 1.

Jenny Allard (head coach, Harvard softball) guided her team to three wins in four games against Dartmouth to clinch the Ivy League North Division title. Princeton beat Harvard 2-1 on Saturday during the opening game of the best-of-three Ivy League Championship, and Harvard led Saturday's Game 2 by a 7-1 score before it was suspended by darkness.

Division II

Ian Davies (freshman, Shippensburg men's track and field) helped the 4x800 relay (8:12.30) take second place at home in the Paul Kaiser Classic on April 30, and he also ran the 1,500 meters (11th place, 4:06.34) and 800 meters (47th, 2:05.02).

Austin Olivares (junior, Lindenwood men's swimming) learned at his team banquet April 23 that he will be a team captain for the 2016-17 season, and he received the "Heart of a Lion" award for "character and commitment to the team."

Division III

Ryan Beene (junior, Texas Lutheran men's tennis) received a spot on the all-Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Men's Tennis Team.

Michael Drougas (sophomore, Oberlin men's tennis) helped his team to a fourth-place finish in the North Coast Athletic Conference tournament. Oberlin (15-9 overall) won its quarterfinal match 5-2 against Wabash but lost in the semifinal and third-place match. Drougas went 1-1 in doubles and lost one singles match and did not finish his other singles match.

Jason Hadley (freshman, Mount Union men's track and field) helped his team capture the Ohio Athletic Conference Championship on April 30. Hadley contributed to the 4x800 relay finishing fourth (8:00.20), took ninth in the 1,500 meters (4:10.44), and finished 18th in the 800 meters (2:04.84).

Max Korten (senior, Moravian men's track and field) ran the 5,000 meters Sunday at the Landmark Conference Championships and finished 22nd in 18:38.40. He finished 15th in the 5,000 (17:47.76) at the Lehigh Invitational on April 30.

Mark Kroll (senior, Coe men's tennis) saw his team win the regular season Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship by beating Loras on April 26, but Kroll did not play in that match. He played and won doubles in both matches of Saturday's IIAC tournament, helping his team win and earn a berth in the NCAA Division III tournament.

Ben Larison (senior, Coe baseball) went 3-6 with his team the last two weeks. Larison started at third base in six of those games and was the designated hitter in another game, and the two games he did not play the team lost 13-1 and 9-1. His best game in the past two weeks, Larison went 2-for-5 with a double, a run, and two assists against Cornell on May 4. Coe opens the IIAC tournament Thursday as the No. 4 seed.

Chandler Whitney (junior, Mitchell baseball) earned first-team all-conference honors as an outfielder from the New England Collegiate Conference on May 2. A day earlier, he helped Mitchell win the NECC tournament with a 14-8 win against Southern Vermont to earn a berth in the NCAA Division III tournament. Whitney went 2-for-5 with two RBIs in the tournament title game. Mitchell (27-9) learns its NCAA tournament draw May 16.

T.J. Greggs (head coach, Agnes Scott women's tennis) helped his team reach the Great South Athletic Conference tournament championship, where they lost to UC Santa Cruz 5-2 on April 30. The Scotties (10-9 overall) reached the championship match by beating Mills 5-0. Conference tournament weekend also included Greggs being named GSAC Coach of the Year for a second consecutive year.

NAIA

Jack Strickland (junior, Friends men's track and field) grabbed a third-place finish in the 110-meter hurdles (15.61 seconds), took sixth in the 400 hurdles (58.14 seconds), and finished 11th in the triple jump (39 feet, 6 inches) to help his team win Friday's Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships. On April 30, he finished third in the 110-meter hurdles (15.56 seconds) and sixth in the 400 hurdles (57.56 seconds) at the Southwestern Relays.

Lauren Lappin (assistant coach, Roosevelt softball) saw her team end the season by going 2-3 the last two weeks. The Lakers finish the year 12-33 overall.

Erik Hall can be reached via email at hallerik7@gmail.com or on Twitter @HallErik or on Facebook. If you are an out LGBT athlete or coach and want your accomplishments recognized, email Erik.