Flag football tournament returns to Chicago's lakefront this weekend for annual Pride Bowl

Wed. June 21, 2023 7:26 AM by Ross Forman

pride bowl

photo credit // chicago metropolitan sports association

Pride Bowl is one of the premiere annual events for the National Gay Flag Football League

The annual Pride Bowl flag football tournament returns to Chicago’s lakefront fields on Friday and Saturday, June 23-24, with 48 teams participating from across North America and about 750 players in six or seven divisions.

Seven Chicago teams will be participating.

“Our committee has been hard at work planning for Pride Bowl XV. We are looking forward to welcoming so many returning and new teams,” said tournament director Jeff Griffin. “We are especially excited for the growth of the women’s+ division and expect it to be our largest field of women’s+ teams ever. Additionally, our Canadian friends from the Toronto United Flag Football League will be joining us at Pride Bowl for the first time.”

In addition to games played at Montrose Harbor fields, located at the Lakefront Trial and West Wilson Drive, there will be evening social events and an awards dinner. 

Related: Chicago's LGBTQ calendar is on GoPride.com

Pride Bowl is run by the Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association (CMSA) and is one of the premiere annual events for the National Gay Flag Football League (NGFFL), which promotes the positive athletic and social benefits of flag football.

“We have an expanded field of teams in both the open and women’s+ divisions. We’ve seen tremendous growth in the women’s+ division, which is a testament to the NGFFL’s work to increase the number of women’s+ teams throughout the country and the various city leagues who have invested in their women’s+ leaders and organizations.”

Pride Bowl wraps with a Saturday night awards dinner and party in Lakeview, to celebrate and acknowledge the division winners and all-tournament team members.

Griffin, 35, is a San Francisco area native who has lived in Chicago for 10 years. He has played CMSA flag football for four years and has played in the Pride Bowl three times. He is in his first year as Pride Bowl director yet was a committee member for Pride Bowl XIV in 2022.

“Watching both the Chicago Freeze and Chicago Surge win their respective championship games last year, and the joyous celebrations of the players and the Team Chicago friends/families/fans after the games,” is a favorite Pride Bowl memory, Griffin said.

Chicago has two teams in the women’s+ division and five in open play.

“The Freeze and the Surge both come in as defending champions in their respective (open) divisions and (are) looking to repeat. We expect all the Chicago teams will be in the mix for a trophy going into the bracket play on day 2,” Griffin said.

Here’s a quick look at the Chicago/CMSA teams participating in the 2023 Pride Bowl flag football tournament:

Women’s+ Divisions

Team: Sparks

Captains: Christina Lopez, Devin Kerr

Quarterback: Amanda Hainlen

Team: Surge

Captains: Alex Rodriguez, Christina Federighi and Codi Livingston

Quarterback: Rachel Karos

Open Division

Team: Blaze

Captains: Logan Oppegard, Kevin McGuyer

Quarterback: Austin Sheaffer

Team: Freeze

Captain: Xavier Colvin

Quarterback: Mitch Doran

Team: Renegades

Captain: Ron Alexander

Quarterback: Ben Wasilewski

Team: Thunder

Captain: Azeez Shogbuyi

Quarterback: Scott Fulton

Team: Vortex

Captain: Scott McClung

Quarterback: Josiah Alicea

For more information on Pride Bowl Chicago visit pridebowlchicago.com and follow the group on Instagram

Related: Out singer/songwriter Bradley Kim to participate in Pride Bowl, playing for a Los Angeles team