Ambush’s newest writer is George Melichar, an internationally recognized athlete and USA Track & Field (USATF) Masters National Champion. Geo uses they/them/she/her pronouns. They are known as George Melichar by the international athletic community, but their chosen name is Geo and their nickname is GiGi.
JM: Welcome to Ambush, Geo! You’ve been writing about your sports journey, especially your track and field- and marathon-related pursuits, for years now. How did you get started?
GM: At first, I started walking in parks. As I began exploring New Orleans, I started to learn about running. After participating in the 2014 Gay Games in Cleveland, I flew to Europe later that year, and trained with fellow Marseille United Sport pour Tous members in Provence, France. I was taught the fundamentals to select throwing and running events that I then continued to practice.
JM: You’re very active with USA Track & Field (USATF), and you recently became a USATF Level 1 Coach. For those who don’t know, can you talk a little bit about USATF and your work with that organization?
GM: USA Track & Field is the United States national governing body for the sports of track and field, cross country running, road running, and racewalking. I am an active athlete at the Masters level. Additionally, I serve as the LGBT Issues Subcommittee Chair that is part of the USATF Diversity and Leadership Development Committee.
JM: What do you hope to accomplish as a coach?
GM: My intent is to identify the skills and capabilities that are within all people I train, and enable them to use their capabilities to the best of their ability.
JM: What does your own training schedule look like?
GM: I have a robust athletic, philanthropic, professional, and life schedule that I try to balance to support working towards achieving performance goals, improving my skill level, and/or outcome goals.
JM: One thing I’ve always admired about you is the way you use your high profile in the athletic world to bring attention to various causes. Would you talk about some of those causes, and why they’re important to you?
GM: Thank you for your kind words. I’m simply Geo doing Geo things. This year, I volunteered with CrescentCity.com to provide free meal assistance to the LGBTQ+ community, gig workers, the hospitality industry, and all New Orleanians that face food insecurities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The call to serve those in need has always been a cornerstone to who I am, even as an Eagle Scout in my youth.
JM: Trans athletes, especially young people, have been targeted across the country this year by lawmakers who’ve proposed anti-LGBT bills. What can people do to fight back, and how can we best help trans youth?
GM: Transgender and non-binary people are our teammates, community members, and our friends. Allyship begins with everyone, and is an ongoing process. A starting point could be to not tolerate disrespect, be patient with those questioning their gender identity, respect pronouns, and please listen to trans voices.
JM: Which athletes have inspired you the most in your life?
GM: I don’t have a particular athlete that has inspired me because I’ve never identified with or recalled seeing another nonbinary trans-femme athlete like myself in media. I am, however, inspired by the friendships I’ve made with fellow USATF teammates, the international athletic community, and athletes locally in New Orleans.
JM: Thanks for taking the time to chat with me, Geo. And for folks who want to learn more about you, they can visit georgemelichar.com, or follow you on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram (@georgemelichar).