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GAY GAMES PROFILE Bobby Hoeppner's (home) run for the Games
by Ross Forman

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Bobby Hoeppner is excited for his third Gay Games in 2010, his first outside of the United States, and not just so his softball team can try to defend its gold medal won in Chicago in 2006.

Hoeppner also wants to visit his favorite Cologne gay bar, Ex-Corner, and his friend Dieter, who happens to be the owner of the bar.

"Having been a member of the Chicago gay sports scene since 1989 and participating in North America tournaments in volleyball, beach volleyball, basketball softball and tennis, it's tough picking just one sport to participate in," Hoeppner said. "I love team sports and would play them all at the Games if it were feasible."

But next summer in Germany Hoeppner will be on the softball field. He recruited, managed and pitched for the "C" Division champion in Chicago.

He played basketball at the Gay Games in New York City in 1994, and his team, which included Sam Coady and Tony Miller, finished in fourth-place.

The Gay Games, said Hoeppner, 45, is, "a life-changing experience."

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"I remember my first Gay Games in New York City, walking into the stadium [ for the ] opening ceremonies with my basketball team, joking around with them and with other members of Team Chicago and meeting many other athletes from all around the world," he said. "One of my fondest memories of that first opening ceremony was seeing the Dutch athletes dressed in a sea of orange. They stood out like a sore thumb, but I remember them all laughing and having so much fun."

Hoeppner lives in Ravenswood with his partner of eight years, Kevin Boyer, who has worked for the Gay Games in a public-relations capacity since before the Chicago Games.

Hoeppner is a corporate travel specialist at American Travel Solutions.

"For me, the [ Chicago ] Gay Games was more than a weeklong event," Hoeppner said. "As a partner of the co-vice chair of Chicago 2006, I was witness, as well as volunteer, to quite a bit of the hands-on planning and preparing. This likely increased my anticipation over the average Gay Games participant. [ The Games were ] highlighted by a gold medal and a Closing Ceremony at Wrigley Field that included Cyndi Lauper."

Here's more about Bobby Hoeppner…

—High school: Des Moines ( Iowa ) Hoover, Class of 1982

—Hobbies: "Too many sports for extra hobbies"

—Superstitions: "I always wear my long [ University of Iowa ] Hawkeye gold softball stockings if we're playing an important softball or volleyball game, which seems to be about every week."

—Little-known fact, skill or trait: "I have been to 22 different countries, and I can make music with a straw."

—Favorite sports team: University of Iowa

—Favorite pro athlete: Michael Jordan ( past ) and Venus Williams ( current )

—Complete the following sentence: "Since Kevin is my boyfriend and he's the PR person for the Gay Games:" "… then there likely will be expectations for assisting to get people signed up and registered. I'm sure I'll have to meet my quota. And VIP tickets to events [ from him ] would be nice."

—Greatest sporting accomplishment: "In 1989, my first year playing gay softball in the old MSA league, our Touché-sponsored softball team finished in third place, back when there were only two divisions, competitive and recreational. I hit a home run to help get us to the semifinals. As a 25-year-old gay athlete, I remember feeling pretty special at the awards banquet when the top three teams got special designated tables [ near ] the front of the banquet hall."

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