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Gay Bowl X: Phoenix

Gay Bowl X: Phoenix


Click through to the following pages for more pictures from previous Gay Bowls.

As the National Gay Flag Football League readies for Gay Bowl X this weekend, October 7-10, in Phoenix, the organization celebrates a decade of rapid growth.

When the National Gay Flag Football League held the first Gay Bowl in Los Angeles in 2002, there were just three teams: Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Now 26 teams from 19 cities will participate in the 10th installment of the tournament.

One of those teams is the New York Warriors. The Warriors are the only team to win three consecutive championships (2006-2008), and they lost their first game in four years last year. This year Warriors captain Wade Davis has his team poised for another run at a title.

"The New York Warriors are extremely excited and motivated to play in this year's 2010 Gay Bowl," Davis said. "After last year's disappointing finish, we took a long look at our personnel and realized we needed to get younger and add more talent, as well as re-dedicate ourselves to doing the little things that made us three-time champions."

While Davis looks forward to seeing old friends, his focus this time around is squarely on winning his fourth Gay Bowl title.

"With this being the largest field of teams in Gay Bowl history, we want to enjoy seeing old friends and making new ones, but our main focus is bringing the championship back to New York City," Davis said.

Also gunning for the title will be the defending champion Los Angeles Motion. Last year the Motion won a thrilling championship game over the San Diego Bolts, 31-30, when San Diego's two-point conversion on the second-to-last play of the game hit the ground. Los Angeles is the only other city to win three championships, and San Diego will be aiming forits first title after finishing second two of the last three years.

The Phoenix Hellraisers, the hosts of the tournament, are also poised for a strong run. Coach Shawn Rea, who founded the team in 2005, has played football for 20 years and thinks this team has a great shot at the finals.

"We've been able to add some great youth with a lot of talent and athleticism, which has allowed us to be more creative strategically," Rea said. "We've also had great retention in our players, so we've been able to add to our depth and play people at positions where they will be successful."

The Hellraisers have been knocked out of the playoffs the last two years by the eventual champions and are seeded third this year.

Two cities will make their Gay Bowl debuts this year: the Cleveland Rockers and the Jacksonville Metros.

Regardless of what team they play for, a common theme among the participants seems to be the statement the Gay Bowl makes about stereotypes.

"The Gay Bowl is about friendship, fun and football, but in its own way makes a powerful statement about gays in sports," said NGFFL cofounder Jim Buzinski of the Los Angeles Motion. "Stereotypes get quickly demolished by anyone playing in a game or watching one. This has great value in reaching people that might be unmoved by marches or protests."

Many of the participants played high school football, and many also played college football at schools like Texas and Washington State. The tournament has even featured former semipro and professional players. Many of the teams play in straight leagues in their own cities.

Organizers in Phoenix having been working for two years to make the tenth installment of the Gay Bowl special.

"Hosting the 10th anniversary gives us the perfect opportunity to add more events that celebrate gay flag football," Rea said. "As a team that has always taken a lot of pride in being a fun and social team, we think that a party atmosphere will radiate throughout all of the events of Gay Bowl X."

Those social events include a pre-tournament flip-cup match and a pool party. Another feature of the tournament will be the induction of the first class of the National Gay Football Hall of Fame. The election of the new commissioner of the NGFFL will also take place at the tournament, with the winner announced at the closing ceremony.

Gay Bowl X has also attracted the attention of theater and film producer Seth Greenleaf, a member of the New York Gay Football League since 2005. Greenleaf began filming two teams in New York earlier this summer and decided to produce a documentary film on their journey to the Gay Bowl. He's also following the Phoenix Hellraisers and Los Angeles Motion as they prepare for the championship. While the film will focus heavily on the football, it will also tell the personal stories of many of the dynamic participants.

"I've always enjoyed my experiences in the league and have been fascinated by the many dynamics that happen in a single season," Greenleaf said. "That coupled with the natural drama of a football tournament built right into the plot was too much to resist."

Greenleaf said one of the most interesting aspects of producing the film has been the high level of intensity exhibited by the teams. He joked that the New York Jets gave more access to HBO for this season's Hard Knocks show than some of the gay teams have given him for his documentary.

"The competition is serious, and the players take it seriously," Greenleaf said. "For a community that likes to share its pride, it took a while to get people comfortable with the cameras being around. They literally were concerned with people eavesdropping on their strategies."

Greenleaf intends to begin screening the film at film festivals in 2011.

For live final scores from the games in Phoenix, visit the NGFFL's Twitter page at And for more information on the National Gay Flag Football League, you can visit their site at

Click through to the following pages for more Gay Bowl photos.

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