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Alabama lesbian lacrosse player says goodbye to her sport

LGBTQ College Roundup: Minnesota’s Derek Wiebke named Minnesota Men’s Big Ten Medal of Honor winner

Alabama-Huntsville senior Alanna Carvalho (No. 30) makes a play during a lacrosse match. She earned all-conference honors this year for a second straight season.
Chuck Edgeworth

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — When the Gulf South Conference title game ended April 29 with Alabama-Huntsville losing 20-6, Alanna Carvalho’s college lacrosse career also ended.

Her mom, DeAnna Lax, ran to the sideline at the end of the game.

Lax hugged Carvalho tight, and Lax started crying, which led to Carvalho crying, too.

In that moment, Carvalho thought about all her parents sacrificed for her to play lacrosse from the time she was 13 years old through that day.

“It was tough to realize it was my last game,” Carvalho said.

Alanna Carvalho runs down the field during an Alabama-Huntsville women’s lacrosse match.
Chuck Edgeworth

Carvalho, a lesbian, wraps up her career satisfied with what she achieved. On April 25, she earned all-conference honors for a second straight year. She also never hid who she is.

“This game has been my best friend since — it feels like forever,” Carvalho said. “It’s just super, super sad to lose that friend.”

She started her career at Erskine College in Due West, S.C., but she transferred after her sophomore year following a coaching change and the private Christian college publicly condemning same-sex relationships.

Carvalho accepted a partial scholarship to join the Alabama-Huntsville women’s lacrosse team, an NCAA Division II program.

“I had a terrible experience in South Carolina,” Carvalho said. “I had a lot of hope coming here.”

She felt “discredited” by Erskine teammates, teachers and the athletic department just for being a lesbian. An example she pointed to was the athletic department drug testing her nine times in one semester, when most athletes get tested once or none each semester.

Alabama-Huntsville being a public school with an enrollment of about 8,300 students — about 13 times larger than Erskine — instantly made it more diverse. She also found the UAH lacrosse coach to be inclusive.

“Every time we have things going on with the team, (coach Gail Wallach) includes everyone,” Carvalho said. “She doesn’t tiptoe around it. She says, ‘Bring your girlfriend or boyfriend.’”

She has thrived since joining the three-year-old Chargers lacrosse program. Her 68 goals and 11 assists this season were second on the team in both categories — a jump from her 28 goals and eight assists in 2017.

“(Alabama-Huntsville) didn’t really get all four years of me, which is a shame, but they got two good ones,” Carvalho said with a laugh.

And that's a wrap. Today marked the end of a huge part of my life. I feel beyond blessed to have been given the opportunity to play this game as long as I have.. and what I would give to have another 4 years. But since I can't, a thank you is in order. To every coach who never stopped telling me what I was capable of, pushed me until my legs couldn't go anymore, and forced me to play with my heart instead. To every teammate who built me up whenever my head was down. And to all the girls who taught me that making the girl next to me a better player... is the only way to become a GREAT player. To my mom, who spent the money she could so I could always play (whatever the sport was), have the shoes I needed, and drove me to EVERY practice.. Because whatever it was, she knew I was going to put my heart into it. To my dad, who did the same, and has always been the first to hug me when I got home, or walked off the field. The first to tell me he was proud of me, and proud of how hard I fought, even if my face ended up in the dirt. And lastly, to this game.. Thank you for teaching me to fall down 9 times but to ALWAYS stand up 10. Thank you for teaching me that after all is done, to respect that girl in the other uniform, because she has that fire in her heart just like I do. And lastly, thank you for leading me to a coach and 30 amazing girls who gave me two years full of commitment, hustle, laughs, tears, and a whole lotta love. Lacrosse. I will miss you more than you ever know. Thank you. Love -#30, Alanna Carvalho

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Carvalho, who went through graduation Sunday, said she plans to find a job and remain in Huntsville.

She’s been dating sophomore teammate Jordan Gaines for about a year, so Carvalho expects to still be around the UAH team. She also plans to work at some lacrosse camps this summer.

“I’m not super getting rid of lacrosse just yet,” Carvalho said. “I’m weaning my way off it.”

Alanna Carvalho can be found on Instagram @AlannaDel_Rey.

Names in bold are people that have announced publicly they identify as LGBTQ. Results are for competitions that took place April 23-May 6.

Division I

Jace Anderson (junior, Nebraska men’s track & field) achieved a triple jump personal record by going 50 feet, 3/4 inches to finish third, and he got 11th in long jump (21-6 1/4) at Texas Tech’s Crofoot Shootout on April 27.

Philip Batler (sophomore, Brown men’s track & field) finished 19th in the 100 meters (11.16 seconds) and was on the 4x100-meter relay that finished seventh at Saturday and Sunday’s Ivy League Outdoor Championships at Penn. Brown finished seventh as a team.

Nile Clark (senior, Miami men’s tennis) saw his No. 3 doubles match end in a 5-5 draw against N.C. State in the second round of the ACC Championship because the Hurricanes had already lost the doubles point to the Wolfpack. No. 22-ranked N.C. State won the match 4-1 on April 26. Miami earned a berth to the NCAA tournament, and the Hurricanes face North Florida on May 12 in Gainesville, Florida.

Always great getting pictures with fans

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Konrad Eiring (junior, Illinois men’s track & field) helped the sprint medley relay (3:22.54) finish third at the Drake Relays on April 28 by running the 800 meters. Illinois finished third as a team.

Johnny Kemps (junior, Boston men’s track & field) finished eighth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase (9:26.28) and ninth in the 5,000 meters (14:59.79) at Saturday’s Patriot League Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Easton, Pennsylvania. Boston finished fourth as a team.

Dawson LaRance (freshman, Minnesota men’s track & field) and Derek Wiebke (redshirt senior, Minnesota men’s track & field) competed at the National Relay Championships on April 27-28. LaRance finished third in the 800 meters (1:50.05) and helped the 4x800 finished second. Wiebke took third in the 1,500 (3:45.03). On April 30, Wiebke was named the Minnesota Men’s Big Ten Medal of Honor winner, which makes him a finalist to be the Men’s Big Ten Medal of Honor winner.

Alexis Lewandowski (junior, IUPUI women’s track & field) and Kelsey Tyler (senior, IUPUI women’s track & field) competed at the Horizon League Championships from Friday to Sunday in Rochester, Michigan. Lewandowski finished eighth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase (11:52.17), and Tyler took 20th in the 5,000 meters (18:38.45).

two years ago, i walked onto a division i team having never run track. . one year ago, i ran an 18:09 5k at A10s. i surprised everyone, including myself, and i told myself next season, i’d break 18 minutes. . nine months ago, i injured my hip, which ruled me out for cross country. i was devastated, especially since i could feel how great of shape i was in and had to put it on hold in order to recover. . six months ago, i began training again with one goal in mind for track: to break 18 minutes. i felt weak, but my legs got stronger by the day, and i was back on my way. . three months ago, i hit the absolute lowest point in my life. i had no drive or motivation. i thought no one cared about me. i felt empty. the one thing that kept me going was running. despite the snowy, freezing winter weather, i continued to pound out the miles. i ran in 53 inches of snow and threw down hundreds of miles on the treadmill, continuing to improve after my injury with my sole focus on getting in shape for track. some days i found myself unable to get out of bed, but running always forced me to drag myself out onto the road to get my daily miles in. . one month ago, i was scratched from my first track meet of the season due to illness. i’d begun to feel better mentally, but this new setback was frustrating. so i put my head down, focused on getting better, and i pushed myself even more to improve in practice. . today... 17:45.52. . stay positive➕#A10BOUND

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Ryan Signorino (junior, St. Bonaventure men’s track & field) finished 19th in the 5,000 meters (17:45.52) at the Buffalo Invitational on April 28. He also finished 19th in his inaugural 10,000 meters (37:55.42) at Saturday’s Atlantic 10 Championships in Fairfax, Virginia.

Jenny Allard (head coach, Harvard softball) saw the Crimson (21-16 overall, 14-7 Ivy League) go 1-3 the last two weeks. Despite going 1-2 against Brown, Harvard clinched a spot in the Ivy League Championship series, which will take place May 12-13

Colin Christiansen (assistant coach, UMBC softball) saw the Retrievers (12-29 overall) go 3-1 the last two weeks to close the regular season.

Lowell McNicholas (assistant coach, Wisconsin men’s rowing) saw the No. 11-ranked Badgers beat MIT but lose to No. 10 Boston and No. 6 Northeastern on April 28-29 in Wisconsin.

Nich Lee Parker (head coach, Columbia men’s lightweight rowing) led the No. 2-ranked Lions to wins against Drexel and Delaware on April 28 in New Jersey to close the regular season. Columbia announced a documentary about its 2016 rowing national title will air May 10 on ESPNU.

Simon Thibodeau (head coach, UC Santa Barbara women’s tennis) lost 4-3 to Hawaii on April 28 in the Big West Conference Tournament semifinals, a match that took four hours and 40 minutes to complete. The Gauchos finish the season 12-13. “I’m proud we made it this far. We are disappointed [considering] we were one point away from the final. [However], the program will keep moving forward,” Thibodeau said in a press release. UCSB beat UC Riverside 4-0 in the tournament quarterfinal on April 27.

Kirk Walker (assistant coach, UCLA softball) saw the No. 1-ranked Bruins (48-3 overall, 18-3 Pac-12) go 8-0 the last two weeks. UCLA moved up to No. 1 after sweeping previous No. 1 Washington from April 20-22.

Division II

Kylon Drones (senior, West Texas A&M men’s track & field) finished fourth in the decathlon (6,177 points), fourth in the 110-meter hurdles (14.35 seconds) and seventh in the triple jump (45-9) at the Lone Star Conference Outdoor Championships from Thursday to Saturday. West Texas A&M finished third.

Jordan Gaines (sophomore, Alabama-Huntsville women’s lacrosse) recovered two groundballs, the second most on the team, during the team’s 20-6 loss to No. 1-seeded Young Harris in the Gulf South Conference tournament title game on April 29. Gaines had one assist and recovered 14 groundballs during the season for Alabama-Huntsville (13-5 overall).

Michael Holland (sophomore, Felician baseball) saw the Golden Falcons (28-23 overall) go 6-1 the last two weeks. Holland threw one inning with two strikeouts and allowed two hits in a 25-5 win against Concordia on May 1. He faced five batters and threw 17 pitches in the appearance.

Austin Shupp (redshirt junior, Shippensburg men’s track & field) helped his team capture the PSAC Outdoor Championship title on Saturday at Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, and he was named the Most Valuable Athlete for a second consecutive year. Shupp took second in the 110-meter hurdles (14.42 seconds), third in the 400 hurdles (53.11 seconds), sixth in long jump (22-1), second in the 4x400 relay, and fourth in the 4x100 relay. On April 29, Shupp won the 400-meter hurdles (53.57 seconds) and helped the 4x100-meter relay win at the Kaiser Classic.

Fin.

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Mark Johnson (assistant coach, Tampa baseball) witnessed the No. 2-ranked Spartans (38-7 overall) go 6-0 the last two weeks. Tampa, with a 26-1 conference record and one series remaining, clinched the 2018 Sunshine State Conference regular season title.

Lauren Lappin (assistant coach, Missouri-St. Louis softball) saw the Tritons lose 4-2 to Southern Indiana in Saturday’s GLVC tournament championship game. UMSL (33-22 overall) went 5-4 the last two weeks, including 3-2 in the GLVC tournament.

Tony Nicolosi (head coach, Cal State East Bay men’s & women’s track & field) saw the men’s team take eighth and the women’s team take 11th at the CCAA Championships on Friday and Saturday.

Division III

Faith Carson (junior, Ursinus softball) batted 2-for-4 with an RBI in a 7-2 loss to Moravian on April 26. Ursinus (15-21 overall) went 4-2 the last two weeks to end the season.

Kyle Davis (junior, Ithaca men’s track & field) took ninth in long jump (21-5) and 12th in triple jump (40-9 3/4) at Saturday’s Liberty League Championships in Rochester, New York, and Ithaca placed third. On April 29, Davis finished fifth in the triple jump (42-5) and seventh in the long jump (20-8 3/4) at the Big Red Invitational.

Michael Drougas (senior, Oberlin men’s tennis) went 2-1 in doubles during the North Coast Athletic Conference tournament. His three singles matches went unfinished. Oberlin went 2-1 and finished third as a team. Drougas ended the season 10-12 in singles and 11-12 in doubles. He finishes his college career 58-35 in singles.

Lindsey Farrell (junior, McDaniel women’s lacrosse) provided three goals and an assist to McDaniel’s 19-4 win against Bryn Mawr in the season finale on April 28. She also pulled down 11 draw controls in that match, and she set the McDaniel single season record with 111 draw controls. McDaniel finished 7-9 overall. Farrell’s 28 goals were third on the team, and her eight assists were fourth on the team.

Harrison Knowlton (junior, Middlebury men’s track & field) and Tucker Meijer (junior, Amherst men’s track & field) competed at the NESCAC Championships on April 28. Knowlton finished fifth in the 10,000 meters (31:01.03), and Meijer came in 10th in the 10,000 (31:52.41). The Middlebury’s men’s track team won its first NESCAC team title, and Amherst finished sixth.

Craig Lauer (sophomore, Ursinus men’s track & field) finished 11th in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at Saturday’s Centennial Conference Championships. Ursinus’ men’s team finished seventh of the nine teams.

Ryan LaVigne (senior, Lewis & Clark women’s rowing) teamed with Natalie Stroud to win the women’s pair title at the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Championships on April 29 in Rancho Cordova, California. LaVigne and Stroud won in 8:37.141, which was by more than 10 seconds. “They’ve put in a ton of hard work over the year, fitting practices in around our time in the eight. It was awesome to see all that work pay off on the day,” Lewis & Clark coach Sam Taylor said in a press release.

Nick Lee (junior, Vassar men’s tennis) saw the Brewers (7-13 overall) go 2-1 the last two weeks, which includes losing 5-0 to Skidmore in Saturday’s Liberty League tournament semifinals. Lee finished the year 1-2 overall in singles.

Cal Neikirk (junior, Pomona-Pitzer men’s track & field), Nick Vucovich (senior, Pomona-Pitzer men’s track & field), and Lucas White Moon (sophomore, Pomona-Pitzer men’s track & field) helped the Sagehens win the SCIAC Championships on April 27-28. Neikirk took second in the 110-meter hurdles (14.95 seconds), third in the 400 hurdles (56.09 seconds), fifth in high jump (6-1 1/2), seventh in pole vault (13-11 3/4), and ninth in triple jump (42-2 3/4). White Moon took second in long jump (23-0 1/2) and sixth in triple jump (44-1 1/2). Vucovich came in 14th in the 800 meters (1:59.85). It marked Pomona-Pitzer men’s track team’s first conference title in 27 years. Neikirk earned all-SCIAC honors in both hurdle races, and White Moon earned all-SCIAC in long jump.

Isaac Reed III (junior, Denison men’s track & field) finished second in triple jump (44-2 1/2) and seventh in the 110-meter hurdles (16.02 seconds) at Saturday’s NCAC Championships at Allegheny College, and Denison’s team placed fifth. Reed earned All-NCAC honors in triple jump.

Andres Bustani (head coach, Rutgers-Newark men’s tennis coach) saw the Raiders (5-9 overall) lose to Ramapo 5-0 in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Tournament semifinals on April 28. “We improved as a team, and we have a nice foundation set to get better as we head into the 2018-19 season,” Bustani said in a press release.

Jen Moore (assistant coach, Swathmore softball) saw the Garnet end the season getting swept in a doubleheader April 24 against Haverford, but Swathmore won its most games since 2013 by going 17-13 overall.

Taylor Tvedt (assistant coach, Augsburg women’s lacrosse) went through an 8-7 loss to Hamline in Saturday’s MWLC tournament championship game. Augsburg went 2-1 the last two weeks and ends the season 13-5 overall.

NAIA

David Gilbert (redshirt senior, Lewis-Clark men’s track & field) ended his career by finishing 22nd in the 800 meters (2:08.32) and 24th in the 1,500 (4:29.4) at the Border Clash on April 27-28.

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