ByJeff Praught | Dugout Chatter
The Columbus Day holiday weekend promises to be an exciting and action-filled one in San Diego, as our city prepares to host a pair of huge sports tournaments.
America’s Finest Softball League (AFCSL) is hosting its 32nd annual Autumn Classic softball tournament, traditionally the third-largest LGBT softball tournament in the country behind the World Series and the Las Vegas Sin City Shootout.
The B division is nearing an all-time record with 14 teams registered to play in the tournament’s highest level of competition. San Diego’s three B teams, the Spikes, Strike Force, and the Loft, are all entered. The Seattle Ball Hawk Brigayde boasts the honor of traveling the farthest distance in the B division for this event. B division games will be held beginning Saturday morning at the Poway SportsPlex USA.
In the intermediate C division, a whopping 32 teams will participate. From San Diego, we have Firestorm, Lawmen, the Loft, Scorpions, Shameless, and Wicked fielding teams. The Boston X-Factors will be making the cross-country trip to battle for the C championship. C games will begin Saturday morning spread out at multiple venues: Santee Sportsplex USA and Mt. San Miguel in Chula Vista.
In the D division, 29 teams will battle it out, including squads from Vancouver and Philadelphia. Those games will begin Saturday morning at either Kit Carson Park in Escondido or at the Poway Sportsplex.
The structure of the Autumn Classic is set up in two tiers. First, teams will play a pair of pool play games Saturday morning in order to determine a seeding. That seeding is then used to create the field for the tournament’s double-elimination bracket. Those games begin as early as 2 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.
The basic idea in double elimination play is to win as many games in a row as possible on Saturday, advancing your way through the winner’s bracket. Once you suffer a loss, your team drops to the loser’s bracket and has to play a significant number of games just to reach the finals. Championship games in each division should be done around sunset on Sunday.
The tournament will kick off the weekend in style on Oct. 9 with a registration party at Rich’s nightclub in Hillcrest. Following the event, the party moves next door to Flicks for an underwear contest among competing athletes.
All told, 75 teams will compete in the Autumn Classic. Tournament schedules can be found online at autumnclassic.org.
Beginning this year, the Autumn Classic was split over two weekends, with the women hosting their part of the tournament early, over the final weekend of September and only saw nine teams compete. Traditionally, dozens of women’s teams take part in the Classic, but this year’s women’s World Series is being held in Orlando in October, making it difficult to justify travel expenses for two tournaments. San Diego women’s teams claimed titles in all three divisions, with What Had Happened Was (B), Hot and Ready (C), and Looking 2 Score (D) bringing home trophies in their respective divisions.
Gay Bowl XV
The San Diego American Flag Football League (SDAFFL) will also host Gay Bowl XV, the national title tournament for LGBT flag football. Thirty-four teams will compete in the open division, while nine teams will participate in the women’s division. Both are tournament records. San Diego will be hosting for the first time in a decade.
This exciting event kicks off on Wednesday, Oct. 7 with a Kick-Off Party at Uptown Tavern in Hillcrest at 6 p.m. for those who choose to come to San Diego a little early. The main registration party takes place Thursday Oct. 8 at the Hilton in Mission Valley at 3 p.m., with a pool party and seeding pod lottery to create the game schedules. The party then moves to Flicks at 7 p.m., where Thursday Night Football will be on the TVs before the video bar’s weekly Flicker (complete with a DJ and go-go dancers).
On Friday, Oct. 9, the women will host a meet and greet at Gossip Grill at 6 p.m., while the men will be at Urban MO’s. Then, the flag football and softball worlds will collide with the aforementioned Cleats & Briefs underwear contest at Flicks, which begins at 9 p.m.
There are actually games to be played, not just parties to be had, and those games will be played at the San Diego Polo Club in Rancho Santa Fe.
Football will honor its champions with a closing party Sunday evening at Rich’s. Get more tournament information online at gaybowlsandiego.com.
—Jeff Praught is actively involved in the LGBT sports community, having participated in softball, basketball, football and pool as a player, and serving on several boards in recent years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.