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    Bay Area LGBTQ+ Flag Football and Softball Teams Bring Home National Championships

    By John Chen–

    Please join me in congratulating three Bay Area amateur sports teams that recently won their respective LGBTQ+ sport national title. The San Francisco Seals Women’s+ C and Open D Division teams won championships at the Gay Bowl XXIII in Seattle, Washington, presented by the Seahawks of the National Football League (NFL). And the San Francisco Unleashed won the North America Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance (NAGAAA) Gay Softball World Series Open A Division in Twin Cities, Minnesota. The Seals teams represent the San Francisco Gay Flag Football League (SFGFFL) and the Unleashed, San Francisco Gay Softball League (SFGSL).

    I had an opportunity to congratulate the teams’ captains and league commissioners and asked them what winning the national title meant to their team, league, and the city of San Francisco.

    San Francisco Seals Womens+ C and Open D Division Gay Bowl XXIII Champions with
    Trophy Photos courtesy of John Chen

    Vincent Fuqua, Commissioner of the SFGSL, told me for the San Francisco Bay Times: “It’s been 33 years since a SFGSL A Division team has won the NAGAAA Gay Softball World Series, so our league is extremely proud of the San Francisco Unleashed accomplishment. The team’s journey to the top took a lot of hard work, commitment, and exemplary sportsmanship earning much deserved respect from the LGBTQ+ softball communities around the country. Many of the [Unleashed] told me that every SFGSL team, every player, every supporter, and our great city owns a part of this championship. This team embodies the spirit, courage, and perseverance of the Bay Area LGBTQ+ peoples, athletes or not.”

    San Francisco Seals Open D Division Gay Bowl XXIII Champions. Top
    (left to right): Alexander Arballo, Zach Brown, Herm Gilmore, Cartez
    Kirby, Dexter Bibbs, Dominic Bibbs, David R Mongeau, Kyle Dent.
    Bottom (left to right): Lance Lew, Eugene Bibbs, Scott Jacobs, Michael
    Umbay, Mike Anders, Alexander Schwans. Not Pictured: Devin Fathi

    Michael Lavin, Commissioner of the SFGFFL, said, “SFGFFL is extremely proud to bring home two national titles, Open D Division and Women’s+ C Division, from the recent Gay Bowl in Seattle. Our LGBTQ+ athletes have worked very hard to represent our amazing city. For nearly a century, the city of San Francisco has offered refuge and showcased the pinnacle of queer culture and community. Gay sports have played an integral part of LGBTQ+ growth, unity, and acceptance, and helped to bridge the gap and created a stronger intersection between sports and the LGBTQ+ community. These championships have demonstrated our collective resilience, pride, and strength.”

    San Francisco Unleashed Open A Division 2023 NAGAAA Softball World Series Champions. Top (left to right): Mike Etcheverry, Garin Wolf, Rich Velez, Kevin Malecha, Jeff Daddario, Todd Frassetti, Jon Taddeo, Anthony Marangon, Hayden Irwin, Tony Mora, Howie J Lyon, Garland Jamison, Jason Bradshaw, Will Robinson, Joshua Robinson, Ron Sealey. Bottom (left and right): Kyle Wood, Charlie Garrett

    Michele Ta-a, Co-Captain of the San Francisco Seals Flag Football, Women’s+ C Division, said, “After five years playing with SFGFFL, our league finally sent the first ever women’s+ team to compete for the Gay Bowl [LGBTQ+ national championship] this year in Seattle. I was honored to be co-captain alongside a respected leader, Marti Davis. Being a co-captain gave me the opportunity to teach what I’ve learned playing flag football for many years. Competing hard together was an amazing experience for all of us. Our women+ players are incredible athletes and amazing people who always had positive attitudes. We played against tremendous and classy competition from Phoenix, Atlanta, Honolulu, Los Angeles, and left everything on the field, including the kitchen sink, to win the championship over the women of New York. It is such an incredible feeling for our team to bring home the Women’s+ C Division national championship trophy for San Francisco!”

    Alex Arballo, Co-Captain of the San Francisco Seals Flag Football Open D Division, said, “This championship means the world to our team, players, and the league. We take great pride in representing the Bay Area with class. Hopefully, this win will give our players and league a major boost in our efforts to build a safe and welcoming place for LGBTQ+ football players and fans, as well as allies. Through football, I met some amazing people, connected with many whom I didn’t think would be possible, and learned so many worthwhile and positive achievements of the LGBTQ+ culture and community.”

    San Francisco Seals Womens+ C Division Gay Bowl XXIII Champions. Top (left to right): Gianna Marschmann, Audrey Wei, Rae McKelvey, Lex Schoenberg, Marin McCoy, Sydne Pomin, Yesenia Sanchez, Renee Schildgen, Becky Middleton, Sara Zia-Liu Maurer, Khaleh Thomas. Bottom (left to right): Kathleen McKiernan, Allie Martin, Tina Nguyen, Mai-Thy Vuong, Michele Ta-a, Marti Davis

    And last but definitely not least, Dexter Bibbs, Co-Captain of the San Francisco Seals Flag Football Open D Division, said: “To me, competing for a LGBTQ+ flag football national championship sponsored by the NFL and having the support from people all over the world are big. But what is bigger is winning the championship with such a great team of players from all walks of life representing the diversity that is the hallmark of the San Francisco Bay Area. Our city embraced and supported the LGBTQ+ community when no one else dared. So, this win is dedicated to San Francisco and our LGBTQ+ peoples and allies. ‘#WE HERE!’”

    Bibbs was right on target with his words, #WE HERE!

    John Chen, a UCLA alumnus and an avid sports fan, has competed as well as coached tennis, volleyball, softball, and football teams.

    Published on November 2, 2023