Gay Softball World Series to make debut in Las Vegas, Oct. 14-19

Tue. July 9, 2024 7:01 AM by Ross Forman

photo credit // provided
The 47th annual Gay Softball World Series makes its debut in Las Vegas as the host city as the 6-day softball showcase rolls into Nevada, October 14-19 – and it marks the first time the long-running tournament carries the new International Pride Softball banner, a division of the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance (NAGAAA).

Formed in 1977, NAGAAA is a 501(c)(3) international sports organization dedicated to providing opportunity and access for the LGBTQ+ community to participate in organized competition in a safe environment.

“We’ve always had difficulty with people understanding what we are and what we were. While NAGAAA had gay in the title, it doesn’t say softball,” said Mark Sakalares, a Chicago resident and the athletic director for International Pride Softball. “So for us to go out and market ourselves, talk with potential sponsors, we first had to explaining what we are before we could talk about who we were.”

International Pride Softball says it all, especially for the 2024 Series, as it will include teams from London, Australia, Mexico and of course North America.

More than 20,000 players across the U.S. and Canada participate in iPrideSoftball’s 54-member associations, including the Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association (CMSA). The best of these teams gather once-a-year for head-to-head competition at the annual Gay Softball World Series (GSWS).

Chicago last hosted the Gay Softball World Series in 2011.

Chicago sends multiple teams to the GSWS every year in multiple divisions, and no Chicago team has won its division since 2011.

Member cities compete at the Gay Softball World Series in seven divisions: A, B, C, D, E, Legends C and Legends D.

The name-change to International Pride Softball has been in the works for close to five years, Sakalares said, and more than 50 names were considered.

“International Pride Softball always stood out,” he said. “We are more than just a gay organization. Pride encompasses everyone.”

The newest members of iPrideSoftball include leagues in Cincinnati and Huntsville, Ala.

“We’re confident that the 2024 Series will be an amazing event,” Sakalares said. “I’m sure it will be the spectacular event that we’re used to.”

The 2024 GSWS is expected to attract 220 teams, similar to the 225 teams that battled for bragging rights at the 2023 Series in Minneapolis.