By Eric Carlyle
I was lucky enough to catch Gay Softball World Series (GSWS) 2021 executive director Dallas Aldridge during a short break from managing next year’s tournament. This year’s series has been postponed and I wanted to find out the latest details for all our softball fans.
Eric Carlyle: Due to COVID-19 the Columbus GSWS has been postponed by a year. What are the new dates?
Dallas Aldridge: The rescheduled dates for the GSWS 2021 are August 30 – September 4.
EC: Who is responsible for shifting back a year all three cities you already have scheduled – Columbus, Dallas and Minneapolis?
DA: It really was a team effort. As you can imagine, an event this size has a lot of moving pieces and parts. The NAGAAA Board of Directors worked with the Host City Committees of the next three Series (Columbus, Dallas and Twin Cities) and the Sports Commissions from Columbus and Dallas to coordinate with contracted hotels and event spaces to make the shift possible. We’re glad it all worked out and we‘re excited to still have the opportunity to host the next GSWS.
EC: Can you please explain the process of rescheduling three future GSWS?
DA: I should start by saying that one of the hardest decisions is whether to hold out and hope or to make the call to reschedule. We worked so hard and built anticipation around the 2020 Series, of course it was hard to get to a place where we said we should reschedule.
Figuring out dates is the easiest part, which tells you how incredibly complex it all is. Rescheduling three Series simultaneously is an organizational tsunami. At any moment in time there are three cities working on different GSWS tournaments. It took an enormous amount of juggling dates, renegotiating contracts and ensuring fields, hotels and event spaces were available, etc. It’s a lot of going back and forth. While we might all like to think of it as just a few games of softball, hosting the GSWS is complex from both an operations and legal standpoint. It took many texts and calls, hammering out all the details over several weeks to get to a solution that worked for all the cities and stakeholders involved. Layer all of that over our top priority – that our players, coaches, volunteers and fans are safe. It’s not an easy fete.
EC: What support did the Columbus Sports Commission offer the GSWS?
DA: We are so fortunate to work with the best Sports Commission in the country. Linda Logan, the executive director and her team are best of the best, no question. From emotional support to tactical assistance with changing and juggling logistics and communication, the Greater Columbus Sports Commission was right by our side. We’ve been working together since 2008. When it comes to hosting a GSWS in Columbus, the Greater Columbus Sports Commission is not just a partner with us, they are a part of us.
EC: What responses did you get from leagues and teams?
DA: The overwhelming response has been very positive. While everyone wants to be back out on the fields playing ball, people have been very understanding and supportive. We’re really grateful.
EC: And how have your sponsors reacted?
DA: We are so fortunate to have incredible local and national sponsors that are on our side. They know the struggles that COVID-19 has presented to everyone. And to date, every sponsor has stuck with us, including Maker’s Mark and Jim Beam who joined us this year as title sponsors. That kind of support means so much to us.
EC: What can players and fans expect in Columbus?
DA: I think players and fans have come to expect Columbus to always bring something new and exciting. We’re feeling the need to bring even more given the extra year we have to prepare. For now, we’re going to keep our cards close to our chest. We’ll have to chat again as we get closer to the 2021 Series.
EC: What are you most looking forward to, Dallas?
DA: There’s no doubt I am most looking forward to seeing all my friends I’ve made across all the NAGAAA Cities. I think seeing the first pitch will also be a special moment.
EC: How can people help support 2021 Columbus GSWS?
DA: It takes a lot of money to pull off an incredible GSWS. If you are able to financially support the 2021 Series, please make a donation. You can go to 2021GSWS.com and there’s a donate button right at the top. If you own a business and would like to sponsor the GSWS, that’s also an option. You can reach out to us via email: Dallas@2020GSWS.com.
EC: Is there anything else you would like to add?
DA: We have a fantastic community that rallies around both sports and inclusion. We would never be able to pull off this event to the level people have expected from Columbus without the fantastic committee members and volunteers. Without the support of over 600 people giving their time and energy, we would never be successful making this event possible.
We are often our own worst critic. We have set the bar higher and tried to exceed the expectations of the participants. We try to innovate new ideas and try new things so some people start to expect the unexpected on what we might add or try to do with the event. Being able to host all the teams at one park is a tremendous part of the experience that is not usually part of the GSWS. It gives us ways to involve everyone together and create unique experiences during the week. We now have an extra year of creativity and focus to make the 2021 GSWS another memorable experience.
Photos Courtesy of Dallas Aldridge