By J. Praught
March is a busy time of year for a lot of our local LGBT athletes, as three major sports seasons reach significant dates on the calendar. SD Hoops, our local basketball league, crowns its champion every year in early March, right around the time the San Diego American Flag Football League (SDAFFL) and America’s Finest City Softball League (AFCSL) get their seasons going.
SD Hoops (www.sdhoops.net)
After three weeks of playoffs, The Loft backed up its number-one seed and won the SD Hoops league title with a 61-47 triumph over #2 Big Mike’s Sports Rub in the championship game March 9th at Golden Hills Recreation Center. The teams had earned their way into the title game by advancing through the quarterfinals and semifinals. In the third place consolation game, #6 Baja Betty’s continued its string of upsets by knocking off #4 Pecs 69-45.
The following week, the league held its annual post season party with a dinner, awards presentation, and board elections. Earning his second consecutive Most Valuable Player award was Patrick Schoettler (Bulls & Bears). Rob Simmons (Big Mike’s) earned Best Defensive Player honors. The league’s five All-Stars were A.C. Carter (Flicks), Jay Irby (The Loft), Eric Reissner (Big Mike’s), Schoettler, and Joe Taormino (The Loft).
Players in attendance voted on the 2010-2011 executive board: Jeff Praught (Commissioner), Sergio Villegas (Assistant Commissioner), Patrick Schoettler (Secretary), Jeff Hammond (Treasurer), and John Crockett (Webmaster). The board will soon announce the spring/summer Open Gym schedule for Wednesday nights. Information can be found on the league’s website.
SDAFFL completes first two weeks (www.sdaffl.org)
Now in its seventh season, the local flag football league has expanded from a few guys getting together each weekend to throw the football and drink beer to 13 sponsored teams with more than 200 players.
“The growth is amazing” says Mike Paganelli, SDAFFL Commissioner. “From the increase in players to sponsors, we are seeing some serious interest from participants of all levels, and receiving some of the best support from our sponsors! I’m proud to be part of this league and am extremely excited to see where it goes next.”
Just two weeks in to a 12-week season, the seeds of rivalries are starting grow, and the teams to watch are already starting to show their strengths. But as evidenced in previous seasons, any team can win on a given week, and Cinderella stories are likely to emerge later in the year.
Paganelli says, “It’s going to be a great season. The energy and enthusiasm level of the players is the most excited I’ve ever seen it in my six years with the league.”
Games are open to spectators, who can see why the SDAFFL is one of the best 7-on-7 flag football leagues of its kind in the United States. Games are played every Saturday at Doyle Recreation Center located at 8175 Regents Rd. in UTC.
AFCSL Kicks off opening day with Mayor Jerry Sanders in attendance
As popular as the local softball league is, with 32 teams and hundreds of players participating, the AFCSL really out-did itself this year in commemorating its 30th birthday. On Sunday, March 20, the league put on an opening ceremony that not only recognized the league’s history, but drew the support of local politicians and earned it an “AFCSL Day” in the City of San Diego.
The ceremony, emceed by members of KYXY’s Jeff & Jer Showgram, featured recognition of George Biagi, Mike Groby, and Rich Riccio, the three San Diego members of the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance (NAGAAA) Hall of Fame. City Councilmembers Rob McNelis (known as “Mr. Santee”) and Carl DeMaio were on-hand to speak to the large gathering of players and friends, as well as Santee Vice Mayor Ron Minto. Topping the ceremony’s highlights was the presence of Mayor Jerry Sanders, who spoke to the crowd and joined others in throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. The San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus performed the national anthem as well.
Efforts of the current AFCSL Board to put on the ceremony would not have been possible without the assistance of these folks, as well as help from scores of volunteers who put in countless hours over the past two months.
“The ceremony went off perfectly,” said AFCSL Assistant Commissioner Roman Jimenez, who himself was largely responsible for the creation of the event’s script. “It was nice to see that so much hard work from so many people paid off as well as it did.”
It is not often that the mayor of a city attends an opening of a city recreational league’s season, let alone an LGBT one, but the hour-long ceremony made this day truly special. And when the words “play ball” burst forth from the microphone, teams took the field to kick off season number 31.
Despite high winds and the threat of inclement weather, the rains held off long enough for the women and men to get all of their games in, with contests held at Santee and in Poway. The day’s festivities culminated with an Opening Day party at Bamboo Lounge.
Among the notable events from the first day of action: Flicks finally exorcised its demons with the Outlaws by pummeling its arch-rival 22-2 in the opening game. The Outlaws had won five in a row against them, including knocking Flicks out late in the Las Vegas Sin City Shootout in January.
Further kudos go to upstart Firestorm, who won both of it’s games in C division play, as did JT’s Pub & Grill DIL in the Women’s Division. In Open D results, two-time defending champion Baja Betty’s and Aftershock each went 2-0, while a brand new team, United, registered a 23-9 victory in its first game ever. Way to go guys!