Come Out and Play
By: Jonathan Krueger
In Des Moines the Pride Sports League has become the inclusive place for wellness and activity. The league provides the LGBTQ+ community and their allies an opportunity to participate in sports and other various social events.
“In today’s world wellness and activity is a very important part of our lives. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be something that is often overlooked, or set a side,” said Tyler Pettit, current President of the league. “The Pride Sports League of Central Iowa, however, is a pillar of wellness and activity, not in just the LGBTQ+ community, but the community as a whole.”
Starting in 2012, the Pride Sports League is going on their seventh year in the community. The league had their start when the founder, Nick Browne, started an LGBT volleyball program with the help of Greg Gross at Project HIM.
When Browne relocated following the first season the board was formed to keep the league alive and expanded to other sports including softball and sand volleyball.
“Speaking in my experience of coming out of the closet eight years ago I didn’t really know how to meet people in the community without going out to the bars,” said Kyle Howard, founding and current board member. “Setting up and starting the league really gave our community another conduit to meet people with common interests in sports and it was a family friendly environment for those that had children or young adults wanting to engage in the community.”
Over the course of the league’s history there have been many challenges including keeping the participants involved and figuring out what sports to provide to the community.
“We had a lot of doubts and were charting in unfamiliarity territory creating the league but we pushed through our anxieties and fears and worked as a team and just took one step at a time,” Howard said.
Another founding and current member of the board, Jonathan Garton, also believed that there were bumps in the beginning but has been a game changer in the community.
“I think it's had a tremendous impact on building connections in the community that would likely have not happened through other venues,” Garton said. “Personally, I've made many great friendships that I don't think would have occurred without the league and you see that all around.”
Today the league provides the community opportunities to play indoor and sand volleyball, softball, kickball, dodgeball, basketball and tennis as well as participate in a cycling club, yoga and a running club.
“All we ask is that individuals simply ‘Come Out and Play’,” Pettit said. “As the Pride Sports League of Central Iowa continues forward, we hope to continue to be a pillar of wellness and activity, for the community as a whole. Hopefully one day to grow outside of Central Iowa and become more of a state-wide organization.”
For that the Pride Sports League has been doing their part with their traveling softball teams: the Des Moines MasterBatters, the Des Moines Odd Balls and with their sister program in Iowa City, the Dirty Divas.
To find out more on the Pride Sports League of Central Iowa visit their website at www.pridesportsleague.org.