Gay Softball World Series comes to King County

Celebration Park in Federal Way is currently playing host to the 32nd Gay Softball World Series.

The tournament is set to bring nearly 4,000 American and Canadian athletes and fans, representing 179 teams.

Celebration Park will be joined as a host facility by Kent’s Russell Road Park and Auburn’s Game Farm Park. Games will be played Wednesday, Thursday and Friday in Federal Way. The championship games will be played in all categories on Saturday at Russell Road.

“August is the best time of the year to come to Seattle,” said Ron Taylor, media/public relations director for the Emerald City Softball Association.

“But more importantly we are proud to be hosting the series and showcasing the talent, dedication and enthusiasm of (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transexual) athletes and fans to the people of this region.”

The Amateur Sports Alliance of North America (ASANA) and the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance (NAGAAA) are joining forces with the Emerald City Softball Association to host the weeklong event for both men and women.

“The (NAGAAA) is excited to come to Seattle,” said Roy Melani, commissioner of the NAGAAA. “The Seattle committee has worked endless hours in preparation and I know it will be an experience not easily forgotten.”

Created in 1977, the NAGAAA is a nonprofit international organization comprised of men and women dedicated to promoting amateur athletics for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community. NAGAAA’s current membership includes over 680 teams from 37 leagues throughout the United States and Canada.

According to organizers, the 2008 World Series will bring in at least $2 million into the local economy. There will be more than 700 games before Saturday’s championships in Kent. All events are open to the public.

This year’s World Series will be one of the largest sporting events ever held in the Puget Sound region, bringing more athletes to the area than the 1990 Goodwill Games.

Former San Francisco 49ers running back Dave Kopay threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Monday’s opening ceremony at the Seattle Center. Kopay was the first American pro athlete to say he was gay. Col. Margarethe Cammermeyer, a lesbian who successfully challenged her discharge from the Washington National Guard, and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels were also on hand.

The Seattle area last hosted the Gay Softball World Series in 1995, which at the time was the largest event in the event’s history. The World Series consists of both an open and women’s division and crowns champions in four different skill levels (A, B, C and D) within each division.

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