August 22, 2013 | by Will Owen
Take me out to the ball game

 

Gay Softball World Series, NAGAAA, gay news, Washington Blade

Thousands are expected to come to the D.C. area for the Gay Softball World Series. (Photo by Bigstock)

The annual Gay Softball World Series, organized by the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance, is returning to D.C. after 10 years and is expected to be the biggest tournament the organization has ever hosted. The opening ceremonies begin Monday with the tournament to be held Tuesday through Saturday.

“We have over 156 teams confirmed and it will be the largest World Series ever,” says Wayne Williams, co-director of this year’s tournament. “We’ve had tremendous support from the LGBT community and the city itself. The city’s been our partner from the beginning.”

Gay softball teams from all over the U.S. and Canada participate in the Alliance’s Gay Softball World Series each year. The games are free to attend and this year’s expected turnout is between 3,500-4,000 spectators and participants. The Alliance is technically a co-ed organization, but the majority of its teams are all male.

Teams compete in five different divisions, including A, B, C, D and Masters, which is reserved for players 50 and older. Many local Alliance leagues have tournaments to decide which teams will go to the World Series and which division they will compete in.

“The age range varies. You have to be 18 and over to play, and there is no upper age limit,” Williams says. “The Master’s division has been growing each year because a lot of the players are aging.”

Games will be held in a variety of locations outside the city including Watkins Regional Park (301 Watkins Park Dr., Upper Marlboro, Md.), Braddock Park (13241 Braddock Rd., Clinton, Va.), Fairland Regional Park (13950 Old Gunpowder Rd., Laurel, Md.) and Bachman Sports Complex (570 East Ordnance Rd., Glen Burnie, Md.). The exact game times and who will be playing who are still to be announced. The Alliance will not provide buses or vans to the fields for teams or spectators.

“We don’t provide transportation to and from the fields,” Williams says. “We do have an arrangement with the National Car Rental company. They provide discounts for car rentals, so we will connect our players with that service.”

Although the games are free to watch, the Alliance does raise money each year for charity from the teams that pay to compete in the World Series and the week’s social events. The beneficiaries are usually LGBT organizations. This year’s are the You Can Play Project (an LGBT organization that combats discrimination in athletics), Team D.C. and the Team D.C. Student-Athlete Scholarship Fund, the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation (anti-bullying) and PETS-Washington, D.C. (provides care for pets owned by those living with HIV/AIDS). The Alliance is a registered non-profit with a charitable mission.

“Softball is an opportunity for players to come together as a group and organize activities in that regard, to represent the best of gay softball,” Williams says. “We designate local and national charities for this, so it’s an opportunity to give back.”

The week’s social events include daily afternoon pool parties, Night OUT at the Nationals hosted by Team D.C., an Alliance talent show and a “GrandSlam” after party at Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) on Saturday night. Many of the players and spectators enjoy the sense of community that is a part of each year’s tournament.

“I absolutely love the gay softball community,” says Tony Mase, shortstop for Washington-based team Capital Punishment. “There’s just something about the camaraderie among the teams that play in the league that you don’t get playing in other leagues outside of that community. For instance, our teams play in a straight league on Friday nights, and it’s not that bad to play in it, but it’s just not as fun and outgoing as it is in the LGBT league.”

This year’s World Series will demonstrate the cohesion among D.C.’s gay softball community. Six D.C. teams are competing, which is more than ever before. Ed Vincent, the coach of the Logan Tavern team and co-director for the tournament, describes the World Series as important.

“[The Alliance] provides this opportunity as kind of a safe haven for the LGBT community to play in an organized league setting,” Vincent says. “It’s really important that the players feel comfortable and secure to play in a league where they can compete at all levels, whether it’s the A division that’s the best or the B division that’s more recreational.”

“The tournament really allows the softball players to be role models for LGBT youth and other LGBT people out there. There’s a way to get involved and a way to form an association and a network of friends. It’s almost like a family,” Williams says. “A lot of these people really know each other. It’s a way to help people come out, or feel more comfortable with the coming out process.”

For more information on the 2013 Gay Softball World Series, visit DCseries2013.com.

Events:

MONDAY
Opening Ceremonies are from 6-10 p.m. at Fairgrounds D.C. (1299 Half St., S.E.), and the Opening Ceremonies After-Party is from 9 p.m.-2 a.m. at Ziegfeld’s Secrets (1824 Half St., S.E.). A complimentary shuttle-bus service will loop from Fairgrounds to the after-party at 9, and will drop guests off at the Navy Yard-Ballpark Metro Station until 11.

TUESDAY
The tournament kicks off at 7:50 a.m. at the various fields and the day’s games finish at 5 p.m.

An afternoon pool party for players will be held at Penthouse Pool at VIDA Fitness (1612 U St., N.W.) from noon-6 p.m.

Team D.C. hosts Night OUT at the Nationals at Nationals Park (1500 South Capitol St., S.E.) for tournament contestants. Gates open at 4:30 p.m. with $5 beer in the Night OUT section until first pitch at 7:05 p.m.

WEDNESDAY
Tournament games will be held from 7:50 a.m.-8 p.m. at the various fields, with an afternoon pool party at VIDA Fitness (1612 U St., N.W.) from noon-6 p.m.

Sequioa Restaurant (3000 K St., N.W.) hosts a “Hall of Fame Reception and Dinner” from 7:30-10:30 p.m.

THURSDAY
Tournament games will be held from 7:50 a.m.-6 p.m. at the various fields, with an afternoon pool party from noon-6 p.m. at VIDA Fitness (1612 U St., N.W.).

The Renaissance Hotel Grand Ballroom hosts an Association talent show from 8-11 p.m, with performances by players, coaches and directors. Shi-Queeta-Lee and Bubba D. Licious will be emceeing the event. Admission is $5. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit nagaaatalentshow.eventbrite.com.

FRIDAY
Tournament games will be held from 7:50 a.m.-6 p.m. at the various fields, with an afternoon pool party from noon-6 p.m. at VIDA Fitness (1612 U St., N.W.).

SATURDAY
The NAGAAA Softball Championships will be held from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. at Fairland Regional Park and Watkins Regional Park, with a closing street party and awards ceremony at the Renaissance Hotel’s 8th St. Plaza (999 9th St., N.W.).

Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) hosts the GrandSlam Closing Dance Party from 10 p.m.-3 a.m., with free admission for those with World Series wristbands from 10-11 p.m, and $8 after 11.

Comments are closed
© Copyright Brown, Naff, Pitts Omnimedia, Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.
Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin