The Metro Nashville Softball Association (MNSA) struggled through a challenging season. Their home fields at West Park were destroyed in the May floods, and a wet spring caused many cancelled games. At times, teams were forced to play two or three games in one afternoon to complete their schedule.
However, that persistence and dedication paid off. For the first time, the MNSA sent six teams to compete in the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance’s (NAGAAA) World Series.
The annual NAGAAA event was held this year in Columbus, Ohio, with over 150 teams from all over the United States and Canada. participating. Nashville’s teams competed in three of the four divisions in the competition, and though they secured few wins during the course of the tournament, their season was remarkable just the same.
Representing the B Division were the Cyclones and the SWAT, with the Nashville Players and the Stars competing in the C Division, and the Inferno Blaze, along with MNSA’s newest team, the Sting, in the D Division. Kerry Pogue, Commissioner for the MNSA, says Nashville was able to send a record number of teams to the World Series this year because of the quality and skill level of the players.
“The reason we had a record number of teams coming from Nashville is because we have the players who won the National Championship last year in the D division who get a free berth to the C division this year," Pogue said. "And earlier this year the Cyclones won a berth in the first ever NAGAAA Cup Qualifying tournament."
While the teams participating consist primarily of people that identify with the GLBT community, NAGAAA rules allow for, and encourage, the inclusion of straight players as well. Lori Caste is a local realtor and businesswoman who joined the newly formed Sting earlier this year. As the team prepared for their trip to Columbus, Caste gave us her perspective on being a straight player on a predominately gay team.
“I became involved with this league through a friend that was playing on one of my other teams in another league," Caste said. "She was looking for a good catcher and asked me if I would be interested in playing. I’m a catcher for another co-ed team and an all-women's team. Being a straight person in this league is no different than being a straight person in any other league. I love to play ball."
Caste continues, "The only difference I really see is that the guys on the team spend more time on their hair than I do! I feel just as connected to this team as I do my other teams that I’ve been playing with for many years. The people are great!”
Caste says that even though she has played softball for nearly 33 years, she has never participated in a sporting event like the World Series.
“I’m most looking forward to the open ceremony," Caste said. "Other people who have been before have told me it’s like the opening of the Olympics. Everyone from the different areas will be there and we are treated like royalty. The league has provided us with matching T-shirts for everyone coming from Nashville in all divisions so we will feel connected. So far the experience has been great and we are going to have some fun and meet some great people in the softball community!”
For more information on the NAGAAA World Series and detailed results, visit http://www.gaysoftballworldseries.com.