Honorees 51-60 on the Outsports Power 100, the most influential LGBTQ people in sports. Pictured: Tecia and Raquel Penning from UFC, former NFL player RK Russell. | Shelby Weldon / Getty Images

Outsports is highlighting our selections for the 100 most powerful and influential out LGBTQ people in sports in the United States, in the Outsports Power 100.

League executives. Team owners. Athletes. Coaches. College sports administrators. Members of the sports media.

The breadth, depth and diversity of the honorees are a profound statement.

Here are Outsports’ selections for Nos. 51-60:

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51) Stephanie Wheeler
Wheelchair basketball legend, Univ. of Illinois head coach
Stephanie Wheeler is a two-time gold medalist in wheelchair basketball at back-to-back Paralympic Games. She turned to coaching after her retirement in 2010 and has gone on to coach women’s wheelchair basketball for Team USA as well as the University of Illinois. Wheeler said in a 2013 personal essay, “I am disabled. I am gay. This is also who I am. I am living my truths on my own terms. Sometimes it scares me. Mostly, it empowers me.” — Shelby Weldon

52) Curt Miller
Head coach, L.A. Sparks
Curt Miller became the head coach of the Los Angeles Sparks this year after a celebrated career with the Connecticut Sun, where he was twice named Coach of the Year. When he was first hired by the Sun in 2015, Miller made history as the first publicly out gay man hired to coach a pro sports team in North America, and possibly the world. “I have lived authentically and proud since 1996. The entire women’s basketball community knows that I am gay,” Miller told Outsports back in 2015. “I hope my story can be an inspiration to others that you can chase your dreams of being a coach or working in sports as a gay man.” — Shelby Weldon

53) Amber Cox
COO, Dallas Wings and Panther City Lacrosse
As chief operating officer for the Dallas Wings, Amber Cox comes to the job with years of experience in both the NWSL and the WNBA. During her time with the Phoenix Mercury, she met her wife, Kyle Hudson, and the two married in 2016. Cox wrote on Twitter about the importance of front offices continuing to show their support for the LGBTQ community: “It’s fashionable now for all sports leagues to have Pride nights — and that’s great — but I’m so proud the WNBA led the charge. The first to have a Pride pillar. Players/coaches who are willing to share their personal stories so others have role models/feel comfortable coming out.” — Shelby Weldon

54) Seimone Augustus
Assistant coach, L.A. Sparks and WNBA legend
Seimone Augustus is a retired four-time WNBA champion, Team USA gold medalist after an elite career of more than two decades in women’s basketball going back to her success at LSU. An out lesbian, she took a stand back in 2012 against a ballot measure in Minnesota that could have banned same-sex marriage in the state. She married her now ex-wife, LaTaya Varner, in 2015, and continues to speak out on LGBTQ issues in sport. “When you do come into your workspace, you don’t want to feel hindered or like you’ve got to hide yourself, you really want to be yourself in order to be the best team and the best teammate and the best organization,” she said. — Shelby Weldon

55) Bonnie Thurston
Director, Player Programs, WNBA
Bonnie Thurston has been with the WNBA for almost 20 years, now working as the league’s director of player programs. Her work extends to men’s basketball as well, where she is also the co-founder and co-chair of NBA Pride, the first LGBTQ+ employee resource team in professional sports. Thurston has also taken on a board membership role with Athlete Ally, and regularly speaks out on issues pertaining to LGBTQ civil rights. She is married and lives with her wife and children in New York. Thurston talked with Outsports about her perspective of inclusion in the NBA. — Shelby Weldon

56) Rick Welts
Sports advisor, NBA and others
All sports fans who enjoy basketball’s place in popular culture owe a debt of gratitude to Rick Welts. After a stint with the Seattle SuperSonics, Welts was hired by the NBA’s league office in 1982. Over the next two decades, he would conceive NBA All-Star Weekend, popularize the Slam Dunk contest, drive the marketing around the 1992 Olympic Dream Team and help launch the WNBA. After his first partner died of AIDS in 1994 and another relationship fizzled because he remained in the closet, Welts publicly came out as gay in 2011 and soon afterward became president of the Golden State Warriors. During his tenure, the Warriors would win three NBA titles and build their new Chase Center arena on San Francisco Bay. Welts was inducted in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018. Welts talked with Outsports about his perspective of inclusion in the NBA and WNBA. — Ken Schultz

57) Amber Trapp
VP, Talent Acquisition, NFL
Amber Trapp has established herself as a powerful voice in talent acquisition. She has worked in various industries, coming to the NFL from Sony Music Entertainment. Now vice president of talent acquisition at the NFL, Trapp is instrumental in identifying and hiring the next generation of leaders in the nation’s most powerful sports league. — Cyd Zeigler and Shelby Weldon

58) Vince Kozar
President, Phoenix Mercury
Since his first role with the Phoenix Mercury as communications manager back in 2006, Vince Kozar has come a long way. Now president of the franchise, he has helped make the team a place where WNBA stars such as Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner want to call home. Kozar, who is gay, spoke emphatically about the importance of inclusion: “We were the first local sports organization to have a presence at Phoenix Pride, the first to march in the Pride parade, the first to host a Pride Night at a game, and the first to sign local organization ONE Community’s Unity Pledge in support of non-discrimination in public accommodations and the workplace. And if that made even one person feel like they were seen or not alone or valued or that our games were a safe space, then every bit of it was worth it.” — Shelby Weldon

59) Tecia & Raquel Pennington
Athletes, UFC
Tecia and Raquel Pennington know how to handle themselves inside the octagon. Raquel is the most accomplished woman in UFC’s Bantamweight division to never hold its title, ranking first in fights and second in wins in the division. Tecia has been a stalwart of the UFC Strawweight division since 2014. Both women are ranked in the top 10 in their respective divisions, building their profiles since fighting on the same Invicta FC card in 2012. But their personal commitment to each other is just as strong. Tecia is on hiatus from fighting while carrying the couple’s first child, and both remain present and empowering to one another around their athletic pursuits. “I love it. I love the motivation. Not just because of our relationship, but I’ve known Tecia for years, and she’s honestly one of my favorite fighters,” Raquel told MMA Junkie in Dec. 2022. “It’s just exciting to see her go through the journey outside of the octagon in real life. And then to come back and finish off a solid career, it’s exciting.” — Brian Bell

60) RK Russell
Author, advocate, former player, NFL
RK Russell, the first NFL player to publicly come out as bisexual, has been an advocate for LGBTQ inclusion for years. This spring, he published a memoir about his life, in which he delves in detail about his grief, struggles as a closeted Black man, and ultimately, how he found joy. “For marginalized people, and specifically young, Black queer people, I want them to feel not only that they’re not alone, but that they can do anything,” Russell said in an interview earlier this year. Now living his dream as a creative artist in L.A., Russell is showing that’s the case. — Alex Reimer

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