PLAY Roanoke, in partnership with the Roanoke Diversity Center, is excited to offer a brand new adult athletic opportunity this fall. PLAY PRIDE is an innovative softball league designed to provide a safe, fun community for LGBTQIA+ individuals and ally’s.
The idea for PLAY PRIDE initially came from Wesley Cook, founder of Blue Ridge Pride Sports (BRPS). The BRPS team was formed in 2017 through the Roanoke Diversity Center, offering a supportive community for LGBTQIA+ players. While some members came with experience, the team was open to all and no skills were needed. Over the years, BRPS has grown, participating in multiple athletic leagues, hosting events, and celebrating championship victories!
The growth of Blue Ridge Pride Sports gave Wesley an idea. Having played on a gay sports league in D.C., he had a notion to replicate that concept here. “Roanoke has a large queer community. We want to create a space to hang out in an active environment,” Cook says. Wesley and the Roanoke Diversity Center worked with Roanoke Parks and Recreation Athletics staff, and PLAY PRIDE became a reality!
One key difference between PLAY PRIDE and other Roanoke Parks and Recreation athletics leagues is the method of registration. In typical adult athletic leagues, registration is done by a full team. This can be challenging for those who have historically felt unwelcome in sports, or who have never participated before. “It can be intimidating to find a team or create one on your own,” says Cook. With PLAY PRIDE, this model was changed. All registrations will be individual, and teams will later be randomly assigned. The intention is to build relationships across the league, and for players to grow their community. “It’s about coming together, not for the competition, but to have fun,” Cook explains.
PLAY PRIDE games begin early September and Blue Ridge Pride Sports will be holding pre-season open practices on August 21 and August 28 for those interested. More information can be found at RoanokeDiversityCenter.com or on Facebook. For questions about PLAY PRIDE, please contact Athletic Program Supervisor, Jessica Babineau at Jessica.Babineau@RoanokeVa.gov.