Since 1977, The North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance or NAGAAA has hosted the largest gay sporting event in the nation. There are two divisions an Open Division and a Women’s Division. In each Division there are 4 tournament categories based on the skill level of the team.
There are 680 teams in over 37 leagues in the Association. The softball association has also helped to build a level of support and socialization to the gay community.
Seattle is the host city to the games this year. The Series theme this year is “The Northwest Quest.”
GaySports.com will be covering the series and bringing the latest in results all through the week.
NAGAAA 2008 Gay Softball World Series Opens in Seattle
By Mark Umbach- GaySports.com- August 25,2008
This past weekend, hundreds of gay and lesbian softball players from across the country descended on Seattle, Washington, for the 2008 NAGAAA Softball World Series. Play starts on Tuesday as the round-robin tournaments get underway, leading up to double elimination play, which begins on Thursday. The tournament wraps up on Saturday with the championship games held at the Russell Road Complex.
This year GaySports.com will be on top of the action providing clips and insight from those on the ground in Seattle. Members of the Spartans from Los Angeles will be reporting from the fields and from their home base, where the whole team will be sharing one domicile for the entire week. Check back daily for shenanigans both on and off the field as the Spartans play both on and off the field.
Before they left for Seattle, GaySports.com caught up with the Spartans’ coaches, Michael Crumbacher and Andrew Gonzalez, who also play for the team. Last year they both competed in the first World Series in Phoenix as members of the Titans D, a team which morphed into the Spartans for this past summer season.
The Titans D finished 10th of about 24 competing teams. With a year of experience under their belt, the Spartans has an easier time making the actual arrangements for the trip. “It makes a world of difference as far as the planning and execution of the trip,” Crumbacher, the starting first baseman and team manger, said. “Last year Andrew and I started from scratch and figured everything out as we went along. And while I think all in all it came off well, having the experience under our belt this year, some components were already in place in our notes and minds.”
Additionally, having been there last year has allowed for some of the first-time jitters to be quelled. They feel better prepared and ready to take on what’s sure to be a challenging field of teams. “[Being there last year] helps a great deal, mainly with nerves and what to generally expect as far as the caliber of teams attending the tournament,” noted Gonzalez, the team’s all-star pitcher and this year’s MVP.
Ever since last year, where the team got their first taste of exactly how good the teams would be, the Spartans have buckled down in the hopes of making a return to the Series. Crumbacher and Gonzalez have planned workouts and kept their team on focused regimen with two goals in mind; making a return trip to the World Series and having some fun on the way.
While the competitive drive among gay men and women is some of the strongest in athletics, its that latter part of the Spartans regimen that deservers a little more attention. Every time an event, such as the World Series in the International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics championships or the Gay Games, is held, it raises the question of why leagues exist only for gay men and women. We’ve heard people say that if the LGBT community wants to be completely accepted, they should not segregate themselves from “straight” groups, including athletic leagues.
Having been a part of both, as most gay athletes have, Gonzalez offers up some very simple explanations. “I think this has opened up doors for those too shy or intimidated to join a non-gay sports league,” he said. “I know, for us, we have brought on not only very talented players, but a lot of first time players as well.”
In the end, leagues like NAGAAA provide a safe environment for people looking to compete or just meet some new friends. The Spartans, for instance, have a diverse roster full of guys from different racial, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds. But they all have one thing in common… they’re all gay. (For the record NAGAAA does welcome straight players and straight players are members of several teams.)
With the team headed into their first day of competition, the Spartans coaches just hope the team will stay both competitive and create some lasting memories. “I hope the guys get to know each other a bit better and form long-lasting friendships with each other while playing a game we all love to play,” enthused Gonzalez.
“My hope for everyone is that they have a firm understanding of why they are there: To finish out a successful season and to have a great time and have fun too,” said Crumbacher. “Beyond that, we have several guys that it’s their first year in the league and they get to go to the World Series already. For them I hope that it motivates them to play harder… practice harder and strive to make it again next year.”
GaySports.com wishes the best of luck to the Spartans and all of the teams in Seattlefor the 2008 NAGAAA World Series – The Northwest Quest.
Swing back by every day for daily video updates from the Gay World Series!
For more on the 2008 NAGAAA Gay Softball World Series, visit http://www.series2008.org.