By Dirk Smith, M.Sc, SDL (He/Him)
For the first time in two years, the Gay Bowl is set to hike the ball this week in Tempe, AZ as LGBTQIA+ flag football players from all over the country are coming together for the “Super Bowl” of Gay Flag Football. This year’s tournament will have 59 teams coming to Arizona for the event, requiring the tournament to expand its division, including adding a new “D” division as well as expanding the women’s division. Meaning that not only is the “Gay Bowl” still very much relevant in this day and age but is continuing to grow and expand.
As is Gay Bowl tradition, the week of Gay Bowl kicks off with inducting new members into the North American Gay Flag Football League (NGFFL) Hall of Fame. Inductees are selected based on nominations of people by their teammates, colleagues, and peers who submit the nomination to the NGFFL selection committee who then decides who to accept based on their contributions and work toward empowering the LGBTQIA+ flag football community. This year, the NGFFL is honoring four people to be enshrined.
- Ryan Peel (Salt Lake City, UT): Ryan has been a staple of the LGBTQIA+ flag football community since 2007. Since then, he has served on the NGFFL board and serves as the commissioner for the Utah Gay Flag Football As a five time Gay Bowl captain, he was instrumental in bringing both LGBTQIA+ Flag Football and the Gay Bowl to SLC. In addition, he helped to expand the Gay Bowl itself with the inclusion of the “C” division, which is now expanding even further with the “D” division.
- Shawn Albritton (Chicago, IL): Shawn has been with the NGFFL since the “early days” of the league where he has been active as both a player and an official. He is known for his “balance” of fairness, common sense and rules knowledge that has made him well respected as an official among team captains. Shawn is also known for his leadership as commissioner of the Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association and his active involvement in the LGBTQIA+ sports community in Chicago.
- Nick Berry (Denver, CO): Nick is known a as a “gleaming” example of class among his fellow Denver Gay Flag Football friends and community. He is known for empowering his teammates and serving as a community leader.
- Vinnie Maniscalco (New York, NY): Vinnie’s energy and spirit is well known in the New York Gay Flag Football community where everybody either knows or will know who Vinnie is. He is a friendly, hospitable, and outgoing person who ensures everybody who comes into the league feels welcome.
Compete Sports Diversity congratulates all the 2021 Inductees! Watch the official NGFFL announcement video with more information about the inductees as well as what to expect from the tournament here.