Tampa welcomes thousands for 2018 Gay Softball World Series

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | Tampa Bay will host the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance’s (NAGAAA) Gay Softball World Series (GSWS) for the first time in the organization’s history Sept. 3-8.

Formed in 1977, NAGAAA is an international sports organization comprised of male and female softball players. The 501(c)(3) is dedicated to providing the LGBTQ community the opportunity to participate in organized competitions throughout North America.Over 17,000 players from 46 cities in Canada and the United States currently participate in member leagues, competing in divisions known as A, B, C, D, Masters Classics and Masters Legends.

Each year, players from the two countries converge for the organization’s GSWS in a host city, which NAGAAA bills as “the largest annual, LGBT single-sport, week-long athletic competition in the world.”

Tampa GSWS, Inc., its own 501(c)(3) organization, formed in 2016 for the sole purpose of hosting 2018’s GSWS. The organization’s officers have worked to execute this year’s competition and surrounding events since its inception, which NAGAAA advises has broken records.

The Tampa GSWS will feature 194 teams, 2,842 registered athletes and 26 Masters teams, NAGAAA notes via social media. There will be 12 teams from division A, 27 from B, 64 from C, 65 from D, 11 from Masters Classics and 15 from Masters Legends.

NAGAAA’s website also notes that while the organization’s primary focus is the athletic competition itself, they are also committed to helping the host city’s local community.“ NAGAAA raises thousands of dollars through its annual fundraising event held each year,” it reads. “The money supports various local HIV/AIDS organizations, as well as other local non-profits.”

The GSWS’ opening ceremony will be held Sept. 3 from 5-10 p.m. at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in Tampa, including a parade of flags along the Riverwalk.

A Hall of Fame dinner will be held Sept. 4 from 6-10 p.m. at the Florida Aquarium. NAGAAA Hall of Fame, the organization notes, is the highest honor bestowed upon an individual player. Tampa GSWS, Inc. Executive Director Ron Frank will be awarded the honor during this year’s ceremony.

This year’s charity fundraiser will be held Sept. 5 from 5-10 p.m. at the Marriott Waterside pool deck and ballroom and will benefit Empath Partners in Care (EPIC). All proceeds raised from the evening of raffles will benefit the nonprofit.

Players and fans will commemorate this year’s GSWS Sept. 8 with a closing party at Ybor’s Cuban Club from 6-11:30 p.m. The event will feature live entertainment and team trophy presentations.

Photo from the Tampa 2018 Gay Softball World Series facebook page 

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