Dallas is playing host to the 2016 NAGAAA Cup over Memorial Day Weekend, May 27-29. According to Keith Speers, assistant commissioner of the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance (NAGAAA), the NAGAAA Cup is the invitational qualifying tournament for the annual Gay Softball World Series (GSWS) which is being held this year in Atlanta in August.
The Cup’s purpose is to increase participation of the two highest NAGAAA divisions – A and B. Hosted each year by one of NAGAAA’s member cities, the three highest placing A and B division teams receive an automatic berth to the GSWS. It is Speers who is responsible for the tournament itself, including the brackets, pairings, time keeper, umpires and any issues that may arise.
Invitations have been sent to all of NAGAAA’s A division teams and those B division teams that placed highest at the 2015 GSWS. As the approximately 20 or so softball teams and their players from across the U.S. and Canada arrive in Dallas, members from the host league, the Pegasus Slowpitch Softball Association (PSSA) have fun events lined up to go along with the hard play.
Tournament director Ryan Holdhusen is responsible for the logistics of hosting the Cup. Aided by Jesse Baker in charge of fields and softball operations, and volunteer coordinator Donnie Sawyer, he says the sponsors are in place and the fields, the hotels and entertainment as well as the opening night and awards parties are lined up and ready to go. And once the tournament starts, they’re also responsible for things like making sure that all the dugouts are stocked with water and ice.
It turns out that this weekend is bringing a new opportunity to build the camaraderie for which sports are known. “We’re especially excited to announce that the NAGAAA Cup will coincide with the World Championships for NAGVA (North American Gay Volleyball Association),” said Holdhusen. “The opportunity to have joint events and share host hotels with NAGVA’s athletes is a first of its kind for NAGAAA Cup, and will provide an even better player experience!”
A 10-year member of PSSA, Holdhusen prepared the bid to hold the Cup in Dallas this year. He said that preparing a bid for this and the GSWS is quite an extensive process with the winning city finally decided by the NAGAAA board. There were other cities that also submitted bids for the 2016 Cup but the board chose Dallas, a decision that has thrilled him and his PSSA teammates.
And things are definitely in good hands with Holdhusen at the helm; he’s had prior experience holding successful tournaments. Beginning in 2011 to prepare the bid for the 2014 GSWS that was held in Dallas, he wound up serving as the vice president for the week-long series that is one of the largest gay sporting events held annually.
This year’s Cup will continue the Pick-A-Stick format that NAGAAA piloted two years ago at the NAGAAA Cup and then continued throughout last year’s GSWS. “We’re thrilled to have All American Athletics return as our Pick-A-Stick partner for the NAGAAA Cup and GSWS in 2016,” said Chris Balton, NAGAAA commissioner. He added that the format is growing in popularity and the organization is pleased to continue it in the 2016 season.
Speers added that “All American Athletics will provide the same type of bats we used during the GSWS, although they will be sporting some new colors. The Future is end-loaded, and the Legacy is balanced and was designed specifically for NAGAAA.” Each bat will be provided in four weights: the Future will be provided in 25.5, 26.5, 27.5 and 28.5 ounces while the Legacy will be provided in 25, 26, 27 and 28 ounces.
Created in 1977 to promote amateur athletics for the LGBT community, NAGAAA is currently comprised of 800 teams in 43 leagues across the U.S. and Canada. If you’re interested in playing softball, check out their website:
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