12-team gay flag football event sees a thrilling ending in Chicago

Related: Pride Bowl photo gallery

By Ross Forman

CHICAGO — The inaugural Pride Bowl flag football tournament in Chicago featured a thrilling, hail-filled championship game in the Competitive Division.
The San Diego Bolts surprised tournament favorite Los Angeles BET, 39-35, in the finals of the two-day, 12-team event, played June 27-28 at the Foster Beach Fields on Chicago’s north side.
Meanwhile, the Washington Metros defeated Chicago’s Mary Attic, 27-20, for the Recreation Division title.

Tournament MVP Eric Reissner of San Diego

“I thought the tournament was a very positive event for the City of Chicago and gay flag football as a whole,” said Chicago’s Chipp Collins, one of the event’s co-directors. “We didn’t hear anything but good things about the tournament from players and captains. It went off better than expected.”
But there was a temper tantrum from Mother Nature during a three-minute span on Los Angeles’ final drive in the second half of the championship game as both teams endured a hail storm.
Still, Collins said the championship game, “was very exciting.”
How exciting? Well, with three seconds remaining, Los Angeles threw a Hail Mary pass that was incomplete, preserving San Diego’s win.
San Diego quarterback Eric Reissner was named the Pride Bowl MVP in voting by his peers, and received a $100 cash prize for the honor.
“I thought things went very well throughout the tournament,” said Marcia Hill, president of the Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association (CMSA), which ran the event under the direction of Collins and Shawn Albritton.
The tournament, played on three fields, featured 12 teams, representing seven states and nine cities. There were about 150 overall players, including a female from Phoenix and a transgender quarterback from New York.
“Not every (out-of-state) team brought their top team, and there were a lot of combined teams, but the overall level of play was very good, especially in the (Competitive Division) championship game, which was back and forth throughout. It really was an exciting, highly contested game,” Hill said.
“We had the opportunity with the Pride Bowl to show the nation that, yes, Chicago can host a great flag football tournament. And I think we did just that.”
Collins confirmed that the 2nd Pride Bowl will coincide with Chicago’s 2009 Gay Pride weekend, and the plan next year is to add a women’s division, he said.
Collins said the Competitive Division champion, starting with San Diego, will have its team fee waived for the following season. “It’s important to all of us that the championship team comes back every year to defend its title,” he said.

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