By J. Praught
Now in its seventh year of existence, the increasingly-popular San Diego American Flag Football League (SDAFFL) is set to begin its next season on Mar. 12. What started out as a group of friends, organized by Ivan Solis back in 2002, has blossomed into one of the top leagues in the country. SDAFFL were officially established in 2004.
The league, open to men and women of all skill levels, features 7-on-7 play between 12 teams locally. SDAFFL has quickly become one of the largest leagues in the country. More than 170 players participated in the league in 2010. That number is expected to approach 200 this year, thanks in part to the enthusiastic draw at the first player clinic on Jan. 30.
SDAFFL Commissioner Mike Paganelli commented on the league’s first clinic of the season: “First day of clinics was fantastic! It was our biggest turnout ever. We had over 80 new players show up, all from different skill levels for a total of about 117 players on the field on Saturday. If the turnout, energy and enthusiasm is any indication of how the season’s going to be, we expect this to be our best season yet!”
Everyone who attends these player clinics gets drafted (Feb. 13 at Bourbon Street). The quality of the competition has proven itself on a national level. San Diego’s representative finished third in last year’s Gay Bowl.
Games are held on Saturdays at Doyle Park near University Town Center in La Jolla. Visit sdaffl.org for more information.
AFCSL new player clinics underway
America’s Finest City Softball League (AFCSL) will be celebrating its 30th anniversary this spring season. As San Diego’s largest LGBT sports league, its leadership is trying to increase its local membership. The league welcomes any and all players interested in joining, but is specifically hoping to attract more women and advanced-level men into the fold. You may noticed significant signage posted around Hillcrest and even players in uniform walking around the bars on weekends promoting the league. If interested, talk to them. They will be more than happy to chat with you about playing.
Women have the option of playing in the Women’s Division or the Open Division with the guys. Each division is broken down nationally into A, B, C and D divisions, with D reserved for beginners. There are no local A divisions however.
New players are required to attend a free ratings clinic, where a general assessment of their softball abilities is made. Attendees field ground balls, make throws, catch fly balls and are given some swings in the batter’s box. Once completed, the players are added to a free agent list that is given to existing managers for recruitment purposes. Players who are not picked up by teams will be grouped together into a new team. Hey Kool Aid (D) was just such a team last year and had a successful first season in which they knocked off many of the top teams in their division while finishing third.
The first clinic on Jan. 30 drew 22 people. The remaining clinic dates are as follows: Feb. 13 (Women 9 a.m., Open 11 a.m.), Feb. 20 (Women 9 a.m., Open 12 p.m.), Feb. 26 (Women 10 a.m.), and Feb. 27 (Open 12 p.m.). All clinics are held at the North Park Recreation Center on Idaho Street.
As part of their 30th anniversary celebration, AFCSL will be holding what should be its biggest and best opening ceremonies in league history. At the new Santee Sportsplex, the March 20 ceremony begins at 8 a.m. and will recognize San Diego softball athletes who have been named to the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance (NAGAAA) Hall of Fame. NAGAAA is the national governing body of the league. Current and past political figures and supporters of the LGBT community will be on-hand. Mayor Jerry Sanders is scheduled to throw the ceremonial first pitch. It will be a must-see event for all athletes, friends and family of the LGBT community.
As far as league play, the season begins that day (Mar. 20) and continues to the end of June. Each team plays two games on Sunday with contests scheduled in Santee, Poway and Escondido. The play is both friendly and competitive with the top teams earning berths to their national championship competitions. The Women’s Division will compete in the Amateur Sports Alliance of North America (ASANA) World Series in Philadelphia, while the Open Division will battle it out in the NAGAAA World Series in Chicago in late summer.
For more information about the league and player clinics, visit afcsl.org. League fees are $55 per player.
Super Bowl thoughts
Until this year, I had always spent Super Bowl Sunday within the comforts of someone else’s home: enjoying their couches, swimming pools, barbecues, blenders and easy parking. The thought of going to a bar for the big game had never been appealing to me. I would foresee spending too much money, being crammed into a corner and not being able to hear the game.
But I gave it a shot this year at Flicks, which has rapidly become thee place to watch NFL games throughout the season, and I have to say, it was an amazing experience. Sure, it was packed, but it was a fun-type of packed. People were coming and going, cheeseheads were passed around and Terrible Towels were waved. Customers brought in their own food, and the bar fired up a BBQ and offered up free delicious food. I am usually far more into the game than most of my friends, but the energy at Flicks was incredible. Passionate fans from all over turned out and the experience was amazing. There were even fun contests to play, and we could hear the audio loud and clear.
The game itself was both exciting and disappointing. Anytime a team jumps out to a big lead, the way Green Bay Packers did, sort of dulls the excitement. But credit Pittsburgh for coming back against a beat-up Packers secondary. The disappointment was that each team looked flawed. Steelers turnovers—none bigger than Rashard Mendenhall’s fourth-quarter fumble as Pittsburgh drove for the lead—and Packers’ dropped balls and sloppy tackling showed that the Super Bowl doesn’t necessarily feature the two best teams. But at least the game was exciting. Charger fans must be frustrated knowing that the Bolts could have beaten either of the teams that took the turf on Super Sunday.