Phoenix Hosts Saguaro Cup and NAGAAA Cup tournaments

By Laura Latzko - April 28, 2015

For the second consecutive year, Cactus Cities Softball League hosted the Saguaro Cup Sports Festival and the 2015 North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance (NAGAAA) Cup.

More than 100 teams the NAGAAA and the Amateur Sports Alliance of North America (ASANA) from throughout the country came to the Valley to play competitive LGBT softball April 18 and 19, making Phoenix the first city to host the tournaments twice.

Teams from A, B, C and D open divisions and C women’s division played round-robin games to determine brackets and then took part in a double elimination tournament.

And, at the end of the weekend, a few teams representing the greater Phoenix LGBT softball community were still standing.

In the NAGAAA Cup, the Phoenix Toros won third place in the A division and the Phoenix Ice (pictured above) placed third in the B division. In the Saguaro Cup’s Women's Division, Phoenix Roster Check took top honors. (Editor’s Note: For a full list of winners, scroll to the end of the story.)

Photo courtesy of the Phoenix Toros.


The NAGAAA Cup offers an environment similar to the NAGAAA Gay Softball World Series, according to Edd Schommer, Cactus Cities League’s NAGAAA representative.

Three teams from Phoenix – the A division Toros and the B division Phoenix Ice and AZ Elite – played in the NAGAAA Cup. Other teams came from as far as Orlando and Nashville to participate.

According to Tighe Copeland, a player for the newly-formed B Division Seattle Ball Hawks, because the weather of the Northwest limits the team’s play to a few months of the year, tournaments help the players to learn more about each other’s skills and playing abilities and work on team cohesion.

Because the NAGAAA Cup is one of only a few tournaments for A division teams, Rob Lewis, West Coast Swing player, said it allows A division players a preview of the teams they’ll face in the world series.

For AJ King of the Tulsa Smoke, playing in the Tulsa Metro Softball League and various tournaments allows him to form strong friendships with other members of the LGBT community. King added that, although Tulsa has gotten more tolerant, his hometown is still conservative with limited outlets and activities for the LGBT community.

The local league and tournaments, King said, provide a safe environment where he can feel comfortable being himself and holding hands with his boyfriend in public.

Charles Dollar, also of the Tulsa Smoke, said the tournaments bring together players from different backgrounds who all shared a love for the game.

“It’s the fact of loving the sport,” Dollar said. “If you are gay, straight, transgender, nobody can take that passion away from you."

Photo courtesy of the Phoenix Roster Check.

Saguaro Cup

Held in conjunction with the NAGAAA Cup, the 2015 Saguaro Cup Tournament featured teams from throughout the West Coast and Southwest, from such cities as Denver, Houston, Las Vegas and San Diego.

Phoenix Roster Check, a women’s C division team with a winning reputation, made a name for itself by winning its first Saguaro Cup tournament.

According to Jaime Hojdila, Roster Check team captain, the team is built around a strong core of players, who ranging from 24 to 50 years old, with a passion for the game.

“We are lucky to have found each other and created a great team dynamic,” Hojdila said. “We enjoy spending time together, playing ball together and overcoming challenges together.”

The Rage, a Phoenix-based D division team, was one of the last to be eliminated from the tournament. Last year, the team took first place at Seattle’s Emerald City Classic.

According to Gabe Uriarte, Rage coach, tournament competition helps him to see his team’s strengths as well as areas they need to continue to work on.

Daniel Czecholinski, who played the Phoenix Hellraisers rugby team before taking up softball last year, said the Rage is built on a strong team dynamic and good sportsmanship.

Photo courtesy of the Phoenix Rage.

“It’s the way we hold ourselves when we are losing and winning,” Czecholinski said. “We don’t get down on each other and we have a good team spirit.”

According to David Garrett, an athlete who participated in cross-country, basketball and football in high school, joining Cactus Cities League in 2011 helped him at a time when he was battling addiction.

“I needed to have a group of people who were positive and supportive in my life,” Garrett said. “I found a home with softball.”

According to Uriarte, he was pleased to see the team’s solid performance and progress during the tournament.

“It makes me proud of our team,” Uriarte said. “I know the dedication and hard work is paying off.”

The 2015 NAGAAA Gay Softball World Series will take place from Aug. 17 to 22 in Columbus, Ohio.


Keep reading Show less
Photo courtesy of Michael Feinstein.

Michael Feinstein

Keep reading Show less
Gilles Toucas

Michael Feinstein will commemorate Judy Garland’s life on March 20 at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

Keep reading Show less

I think it’s fair to say we all want that #fitlife, especially with Spring around the corner — as well as Gaypril on the way. Whether it’s pool season yet or not, everyone would choose to look fit over not looking fit, if they could have it with a snap of their fingers. OK, the vast majority of us would.

If you’ve met me, or have been reading my articles, you know that I live, sleep, eat and breathe fitness; it’s my heart and soul. That being said, I’m here to tell you that the concept of “fitness” is oftentimes tragically misunderstood.

Before you get too aggressive with your goal for pool season, let’s dive a bit deeper into what fitness means on the inside versus what it looks like on the outside, and common misconceptions around this concept.

1. Beware of the cultural pitfalls and misleading information around fitness.

Most of the bodies you see in the media are probably not real, they just look very convincing. As a trainer who also moonlights as a photographer and Photoshop wizard, I’m telling you that it is incredibly easy to alter pictures in materially misleading ways. Once you know the tricks of the trade, the imposters are easily spotted. But that’s not what this is about.

The point is: to the untrained eye, it can be devastatingly defeating to see such impossible standards. It seems as though the cultural pressure to look a certain way, to look perfect, has spread all the way from runway models to fitness novices with the help of smartphone apps.

The truth is that we fitness models look that cut, and that lean for only a couple days at a time. That’s it! In many cases, months or even close to a year of training, dieting and programming all go into looking like that for ONE day. Let that sink in for a second. Day to day, I am less cut, less tan and much flatter muscularly than what you see in some of my pictures. That’s just the nature of the beast. So, when you have a bad day on the scale, in the mirror or in any other scenario, remember that we’re all human and that the most legitimate photos you’re comparing yourself against were from someone’s very best day. That should help to keep things in perspective.

2. Most people want the results, without actually doing the work.

Fitness is not six pack abs, it’s not superficial, it is not temporary and it’s not an isolated phase in your life. Further, fitness is not something you do for someone else, do to spite someone else or even to impress someone else.

Fitness is confidence, toughness, dedication, coordination, power, balance, speed, strength (both literally and figuratively) and persistence in the face of all obstacles. This includes control over your attitude, your mood, your sleep, your schedule, your diet and other aspects of your life. This means getting that workout in when you least feel like it.

It’s not easy, and it’s definitely a grind that has good and bad days. You must show up and keep working on the days you’re tired, stressed, rushed, defeated, doubtful, afraid and so on. The days you actually have to overcome something instead of just checking your workout off your to-do list are the days you have the greatest opportunity to really make progress, push your body and see the most improvement.

3. Fitness is really an internal mindset. The external physique is the fringe benefit.

I’ve said this time and time again, and it might sound strange coming from such an aesthetic-focused trainer, but you are not your body. Your body is a tool, it’s a means to an end, to express your internal mindset, belief system, discipline and dedication to your workout program. Your physique will come and go. Your strength will come and go. Your abilities will wax and wane depending on what you’re training for at the time.

The outside will, and should, be always changing, but the inside is what we’re really after here. Good trainers want to train you to believe in yourself when sh*t gets hard. We want to train you to be resilient in the face of injury, obstacles and other setbacks. We want you to set ambitious goals and shoot for the moon because you can get there with smart programming and relentless will (do yourself a favor and ditch the crash diets and the photo editing software).

So, as you make your spring preparations for swimsuit season, try focusing on developing a sterling, unshakeable internal character and the muscles will come along the way, this I promise you.

Keep reading Show less