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LGBT Sports Profile: Mishele Stead -- outrigger extraordinaire

The subject of this week's LGBT Sports profile is Mishele Stead. Although a native of South Bend, Indiana, she has called San Diego home for 25 years. Stead said she was "flattered and humbled" when asked to share about a sport she is so passionate about. She currently lives in Normal Heights and is in "a wonderful relationship with a beautiful woman."

Predominate sports involved in (identify if any are LGBT related and those that aren’t):

I grew up playing soccer, then was a catcher for women's softball in the early 90's.

For the past five years, I have dedicated myself to outrigger canoeing.

It doesnt matter to me whether a sport is LGBT or not. We are all the same when it comes to having a passion for a certain lifestyle.

Personally, my club knows that im a lesbian and I've been embraced with love, respect, and aloha.

What sports-related organization(s) do you play with or volunteer for, and why?

I paddle with Ikuna Koa Outrigger Canoe Club.

What I like about paddling and the Hawaiian culture was best said by Rell Sunn, known as the "Queen of Makana."

Rell once said, "The aloha spirit is real simple ... you give and you give and you give from here (the heart) until you have nothing else to give"

When is the primary season for that sport?

The primary season for paddling is the first race which May through September. I usually go to Kona to compete in the Queen Lilio' Race which is Labor Day Weekend, which is an 18 mile race around a portion of the Big Island of Hawaii, starting in Kona.

Position(s) played:

I usually sit in seat one, which is called the stroker (lol), or seat two, in the canoe. Those two seats set the pace for the rest of the canoe.

What do you like best about that sport and/or that organization?

It takes six people paddling as one to have the canoe moving thru the ocean, everyone in rhythm, working together. Teams from all over compete against one another on the water, yet once you're on the beach, everyone is ohana (family).

We don't categorize ourselves as the most elite group, but we are seasoned paddlers of all ages and mainly women over 40. We focus on family, first and have an incredible keiki (kids) program.

Where else can you go and have the spirit of the islands with you in every breath?

What is your full-time career?

My full time job is in the medical field, specifically in private home care.

What is something that many people do not know about you?

Something many people don't know is that I've been clean and sober for four years and am active in the program. It's been a very personal journey of self discovery and it has helped me to become the woman I am today.

What do you like most about the local LGBT community and it’s support of sports programs?

I know several women who are gay and paddle, however, I don't see much support from the community for outrigger canoeing.

What would you like to see change in the LGBT community?

What I'd like to see more of in the LGBT community is togetherness ... outside of the bars and clubs.

I have friends from all walks of life, gay and straight, we are really all one. I didn't choose paddling because it happened to be something affiliated with the LGBT community, I chose it because it was in my heart.

What other sorts of things do you do to enrich your social life (aside from sports)?

I play around with photography, it is a passion of mine. I've had a couple exhibitions, but my dream is to create a website and some day make that my career.

I also spend time with friends, whether it's over coffee or having dinner parties. Because I'm active in the program (AA), I attend meetings on a regular basis.

Our club also has get-togethers outside of practice. We are very much into supporting the community and have team-building clinics, as well as programs for the kids in our ohana.

Where would you be right now if you could be anywhere?

If I could be anywhere, I would live in Maui, Hawaii.

What is your favorite outdoor location in San Diego?

Sunset Cliffs or anywhere by the ocean.

Anything exciting coming up with regards to your favorite sports?

There is an event coming up Feb 12th, called "The Valentines Day Massacre." It's an event for new paddlers, a casual, fun get together for everyone and there's even training for first timers.

If anyone is interested, get details and sign up HERE.

This past year while while preparing to go to Kona as an independent paddler for the Queen Lilio' Race, I was invited by Kihei Canoe Club to extend my stay in order to participate in a nine hour, 75 mile voyage, paddling from Kona, Hawaii to Kihei, Maui.

It was an incredible honor, because it is a sacred journey and you must be hand-picked to participate. During this voyage my mission was to mentor younger female racers and I felt very embraced by the people and their culture to be asked to do this. After we arrived in Maui, I was able to stay for a week and paddle, train and live with members of the club.

I've been asked to return this Oct to participate in the Paddle for Life which raises funds for breast cancer, paddling from island to island. I'm in the process of getting sponsorships so I can go.

Website & social media info for the sports organization you are most involved in?

Our canoe club's website is IkunaOutriggerCanoeClub.

You can also find us on Facebook.

If there is someone you know who participates in an LGBT sport here in San Diego and would like to have them profiled, email morgan@sdgln.com.