During the Memorial Day Weekend, the Hotlanta Softball League (HSL) will host the 2018 Big Peach Softball Tournament, which is one of the biggest softball tournaments in the North America Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance (NAGAAA). The tournament will host B, C, and D divisions, and in addition to the fun and competitive play tournament, the league will also have great events throughout the three-day weekend. Peach talked to Director Kyle Erickson about highlights and what to expect over the 2018 Big Peach weekend.
Tell us a little bit about the background for the tournament?
The Big Peach Tournament has played annually since 1985 when leaders of HSL created a tournament to promote Atlanta’s LGBTQ amateur softball community on the national stage. This year, HSL and the Big Peach welcome 50 teams from all over the country. HSL’s Atlanta teams welcome teams from Birmingham, Boston, Columbus, Fort Lauderdale, Knoxville, Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans, New York City, Orlando, Providence, Tampa, and Washington DC.
What can the competing teams expect regarding the whole tournament weekend?
The Big Peach committee has partnered with incredibly generous sponsors this year to make the players’ experiences a weekend to remember!
The Big Peach Weekend kicks off at Midtown Moon on Thursday 25th with a Volunteer bag-stuffing and beer bust. Midtown Moon is giving the Big Peach participants the exclusive first-look at Atlanta’s newest hotspot! $10 beer bust and drink specials. This is a private party for volunteers and softball players.
The Big Peach Weekend continues Friday night at the Crowne Plaza Atlanta Midtown for the Registration & Opening Party! The party returns to the rooftop pool deck with hostess Ruby Redd with performances by several special guests Misti Shores, Angelica D’Paige Brooks, Myah Ross Monroe, and more. Ruby Redd will emcee the ‘Mr. Big Peach Hunk Competition’ with games and prizes. The pool deck will be bumping with the beats of the returning DJ, Mike Pope.
The Official Saturday Night Party returns to Midtown Moon. Another private party for all Big Peach participants, this event highlights drink specials and Atlanta’s newest drag show hosted by Misti Shores & friends! Special guests include Myah Ross Monroe, Evah Destruction, Tristan Hartman Panuccit, and more!
The Big Peach Weekend closes out the party at long-time tournament sponsor, the Heretic. Teams will be presented their tournament trophies at this joint Awards Ceremony. Misti Shores is the hostess with returning performances by Angelica D’Paige Brooks, Myah Ross Monroe, and more! DJ Mike Pope will keep the front patio alive as the tournament wraps up!
Where and how can you attend the games?
All games will be played between two complexes this year. The C-Division will play at Southside Sports Complex in Atlanta, and the B & D Divisions will play at Johnson Park in Conyers. Fans can check the game schedule on hslbigpeach.org and can follow bracket updates on www.facebook.com/groups/hslbigpeach.
Teams visit from all over the country – any particular team you’d like to highlight?
One of the returning teams is the Music City Beat that plays in the Metro Nashville Softball Association. Even though the average age on their roster is ‘more mature’ than most teams in the league, they are a scrappy bunch that prides themselves on fundamentals and sportsmanship that excel in surprising their opponents with more wins than losses! The Beat is made up of a beautiful cross-section of culture, race, orientation, and gender represented by a variety of different backgrounds with the motto: “Play for the name on the front of the jersey, not the one on the back.” They finished 3rd at Birmingham’s Southern Shootout and are looking to Three-Peat at their league’s very own tournament this year. They’ve played in four of the six past NAGAAA Gay Softball World Series with a goal of Tampa this year!
What is it about this kind of tournament that is so important to our community?
The Big Peach Tournament has been a staple in the LGBTQ softball community for years: locally, regionally and nationally. It attracts and welcomes LGBTQ and allies from all over that are looking for a safe, all-inclusive place to play friendly and competitive softball. Members become a family and a network that love and support one another. We grow stronger together regardless of the challenges the LGBTQ community faces.