San Diego hosts Autumn Classic, one of world’s largest gay sporting eventsAround the City Thursday, September 29th, 2011
Thousands of LGBT softball players are making their way to San Diego for the 28th annual Autumn Classic, hosted by America’s Finest City Softball League (AFCSL) during Columbus Day weekend, Oct. 7-9. The tournament reached max capacity with 100 registered teams several weeks before the first pitch.
“With over 1,400 athletes coming in from as far away as Philadelphia, Chicago, Orlando and Austin, we are working very hard to make sure this tournament is one of the best we’ve ever put on,” said Co-Director Roman Jimenez.
During its 28 years, the Autumn Classic has become one of the most popular tournaments to come to in all of LGBT sports and is the third largest annual gay sporting event in the world. AFCSL is utilizing four different fields around San Diego to accommodate the league, including the Power Sportsplex USA (12349 McIvers Court in Poway), Hourglass Community Park (10440 Black Mountain Rd. in Mira Mesa), Kit Carson Community Park (3333 Bear Valley Parkway in Escondido) and Sportsplex USA Santee (9951 Riverwalk Drive in Santee).
“We run an efficient tournament that’s well organized and we never lose focus of the quality we’re offering,” said Dani Goodlett, tournament co-director. “We have the best fields, the best umpires and we work hard to make sure the games are as competitive and fair as possible.”
But the tournament is more than just about playing softball; there are several social events happening around town where players can mingle with sports fans.
“While the competition is what we’re about, the destination that is America’s Finest City is just as big a part of why our tournament is so popular,” said Jimenez. “The weather, the people and the incredibly diverse nightlife all come together to create the perfect social and competitive atmosphere.”
A player registration party kicks off the social festivities Oct. 7, 6-9 p.m. at The LGBT Community Center (3909 Centre St.), with the proceeds benefiting The Center’s HIV prevention programs. Additionally, several sponsor bars are hosting events for players throughout the weekend. There is a closing party Oct. 9, noon to 9 p.m. at Numbers bar, benefiting The Trevor Project.
Jimenez said for the first time in the tournament’s history, shuttle busses will be transporting athletes from the Mission Valley Resort, the event’s host hotel, up into Hillcrest and North Park, making frequent free bar and restaurant runs all weekend long.
“We can’t take our bars and restaurants to our players, but we can take our players to the bars and restaurants, and that’s just what we’re going to do,” Jimenez said.
For more information on the Autumn Classic, log on to autumnclassic.org.
Sports fans are asked to volunteer to assist with the Autumn Classic. Volunteers are needed for field operations, player registration, the closing party, as well as event prep a few days before the tournament starts. Contact Seth Silvernail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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