Stonewall Sports, an LGBTQ and Ally community-based nonprofit sports organization, on Wednesday afternoon announced Asheville as the latest city to join the league. The sports group was founded in Washington, D.C., in 2010 to raise funds for local nonprofits through inclusive, low-cost organized sports. Since then, it has expanded into seventeen cities including Asheville, five in North Carolina alone. The Asheville interim leadership team will host a free community meet and greet at Banks Ave. Bar (32 Banks Avenue in downtown Asheville) on Wednesday, May 22 from 6:00-9:00 p.m. to learn about the league, meet people, and play bar games.
“As someone who has played soccer most of my life, I believe everyone should be able to feel comfortable being themselves in organized sports,” said Karla Furnari, City Commissioner of Stonewall Sports Asheville. “This is a recreational league for all types of athletes, so we hope to quickly build a network of teammates, volunteers, sponsors, and friends. Stonewall Sports is truly driven by the community, so we want to listen to as many voices as possible as the league takes shape before our first sport rolls out in the summer.”
Stonewall Sports Asheville plans to start with a kickball league for the simplicity, nostalgia, and socialization that make it a challenging team sport and provide a fun social experience. To keep the experience affordable and accessible, registration fees will be in the $25-$35 range – substantially lower than other sports clubs in the area. Other expenses will be offset by community sponsorship, also designed for a range of budgets to ensure participation from small businesses and larger corporations alike. Other cities have also added bowling, corn hole, flag football, and volleyball leagues, among other sports.
The Asheville area has been noted by national organizations for its friendly and inclusive nature and is home to one of the most dynamic and visible LGBTQAI+ communities in the South. Stonewall Sports Asheville organizers note that while the city is not lacking in welcoming arts and cultural options, there is a void when it comes to ongoing recreational activities for the LGBTQ community and allies to gather around while interacting socially.
The philanthropic focus of the league is just as important as wellness and social components, notes Furnari. “We’ve chosen Blue Ridge Pride as our local charitable partner because of the years of trust the organization has established in the region. The organization’s vision of an inclusive community where people are embraced for who they are and feel welcomed to engage and contribute aligns very closely with Stonewall Sports Asheville’s vision.”
MountainXpress - Press Release from Stonewall Sports