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The Chesapeake and Potomac Softball League, D.C.’s LGBTQ+ softball organization, is recruiting new members for its “Fall Ball” season, scheduled to start on Saturday, September 18.
The abbreviated season will run for six consecutive weeks, with two games held each Saturday through October 23. Games for the abbreviated season are played at Watkins Regional Park in Upper Marlboro, Maryland
Registration costs $30 per person, and will remain open until Wednesday, September 8.
Unlike CAPS’ longer spring-summer season, which features a more competitive level of play, Fall Ball is a recreational season, with teams arranged by the CAPS executive board to ensure an equal playing field based on abilities.
“Fall Ball is really intended to take a break from competition. It’s much more relaxed, with a casual format,” says Luke Gasbarro, the secretary of the CAPS board. “It’s a great time to recruit new people to play, especially people who are new to the sport or are trying to get back into softball, or are looking to meet new people in a more relaxed environment. We’ll often have players join the league during Fall Ball who will come back the following year for the competitive season.”
In addition to making teams more evenly matched, the season allows the board increase teams’ diversity or match teammates who wouldn’t normally play together, such as women and men playing on the same team.
“The setup provides a more fun opportunity for people to play with teammates they wouldn’t be with in the regular season,” says Gasbarro. “A lot of softball leagues across the country do this format to take a break and have a fun experience.”
For players just venturing into the world of sports, CAPS will send around a questionnaire asking before teams are drafted to determine a player’s experience level or special skill sets they may have, which also helps when drafting teams.
“A lot of coaches that we have for fall ball — who are a mixture of board members or coaches from the competitive season — have a mindset where they’re looking to develop new players for the following season. So it’s not required, but some coaches will hold mini-practices or little clinics outside of Saturdays for people who want to push themselves a little bit more. People just show up and play. The coaches aren’t concerned with how good they are,” says Gasbarro.
“And even when we’re not in season, some of us will occasionally gather together and have practices, once a month, twice a month, indoors, outdoors. And once they meet new players in Fall Ball, those coaches will hold special clinics or informal offseason trainings,” he adds, noting that the league also plans to hold more formal training or developmental sessions during the winter to get people back into shape well before registration for the spring-summer season begins.
Gasbarro says the registration fee of $30 is more than reasonable, considering each team will play twelve games, and the season’s more informal nature makes it more acceptable if a player must miss a game, whereas in the competitive season, regular attendance is often crucial to a team’s success.
He adds that while some players have played softball or baseball their entire lives, including at the collegiate level, others who used to play often find their interest in the sport renewed when they try out for CAPS.
“I played baseball growing up, and took a long break from it starting in my freshman year of high school, for various reasons,” Gasbarro says. “It can sometimes be hard being in competitive softball, because you may not always be accepted and you’re in more of a ‘straight’ environment. So returning to play softball, for me, renewed my love for the sport. And it was finally a place I could feel comfortable playing. So it was a return to my youth, if you will.
Gasbarro says the social aspect of playing organized sports is also a draw for some people.
“When I moved to D.C., before I started playing, I really didn’t have that many friends,” he says. “So you’ll see a lot of new players join in the fall because they’ve just moved to D.C. or have graduated and are looking for something to do on the side. So they come out for the social aspect of it, but most of them end up getting bitten by the ‘softball bug,’ and will come back the following year.”
Registration for the Chesapeake and Potomac Softball League’s “Fall Ball” season is open through Wednesday, Sept. 8, with the first games starting on Saturday, Sept. 18. For more information, or to register, visit www.capssoftball.org/fallregistration.
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