“I figure not being the most sports minded person in the world (that’s a nice way of saying I know nothing about sports), I would ask Tim to write about this weekend, and what a fabulous job he did….. Scott Holland.”
Three days of fun, sun, and softball are the recipe for the 24th annual Hurricane Showdown international gay softball as more than 1,000 players, partners, and other participants descend on the Fort Lauderdale area for Thanksgiving weekend.
Local teams from the South Florida Amateur Athletic Association make up a third of the tournament field. A total of 55 teams from 17 cities and Canada are scheduled to play Nov. 23-25. Some fly in from as far away as Portland Oregon, Toronto, and Minneapolis, while those closer to home drive in from Tampa and Orlando.
The Showdown, which also brings together local sponsors and businesses, provides a safe environment for the LGBT community and their supporters to gather and compete. This will be the third consecutive year that the tournament is presented with the support of Prudential.
“It’s great to see lots of new teams joining us and we look forward to welcoming back all of the returning players who make this part of their yearly plans,” says Tournament Director Michael Moody, 61, of Fort Lauderdale. “We’re proud of our great city and love to show it off to the world. The local venues and our host hotel are really rolling out the red carpet this year.”
The tournament is played at Mills Pond Park in Fort Lauderdale and Brian Piccolo Park in Cooper City. Off-field events begin on Wednesday, Nov. 21, with a local registration party at Infinity Lounge from 6-9 p.m. The opening registration party is Thanksgiving night at Matty’s on the Drive from 6-9 p.m., with a nightcap hosted at Pint from 9 p.m.-close. GYM Bar will host Friday night’s party from 8 p.m.-close, while The Pub will welcome everybody Saturday night from 7 p.m.-close. The closing ceremony will be held at the Alibi/Monkey Bar on Sunday from 6-9 p.m. after the championship games. Each host bar will be offering a Hurricane Showdown specialty cocktail as well as other discounts with tournament bracelets.
The host hotel is the Courtyard by Marriott, just a few steps from the sandy beach and Atlantic Ocean.
The tournament sports three divisions of play based on skill: D Division, C Division and B Division. All teams play three round-robin games to determine seeding for the double-elimination tournament. Trophies are awarded to the top three teams in all divisions, and this year each winning player will receive a ball cap.
“The Hurricane Showdown has been, and still is, one of my favorite tournaments outside of the World Series to attend,” says Ray Garcia, 29, of Boston, who plays with the Twin Cities Spikes. “My overall great first experience is what brought me back the second time, and the rest is history with a continued show of support and hard work from the league and community.”
Teams can choose to play on Fridays, which makes this event unique compared to other LGBT tournaments. Friday’s games are at Mills Pond Park. Some teams then travel to Piccolo Park for play on Saturday and Sunday morning, and all divisions will return to Mills Pond on Sunday afternoon for the championship games. The community is encouraged to come to Mills on Sunday, Moody says, as the tournament will be giving away prizes like weekend stays at local resorts, airline tickets, dinners for two at area restaurants, and “other stuff.”
Friday night also features a home run derby at Mills Pond.
“I can honestly say that the Showdown is one tournament that I absolutely look forward to every year,” Garcia concludes.
For more information on the Hurricane Showdown, go to: HurricaneShowdown.net.