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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 17, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 07
Batter up!: An interview with ECSA's Frank Pichinini
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Batter up!: An interview with ECSA's Frank Pichinini

by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN Contributing Writer

It may seem odd to be talking about softball in the cold, rainy days of February, but the Emerald City Softball Association (ECSA) has been preparing for the upcoming season starting in April for weeks - months, in some cases. Entering its 33rd year, the LGBT sports league is one of the largest of its kind in the country. Thirty-five teams are expected to take the field in four different competitive divisions all looking to secure a spot in the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance (NAGAAA) World Series to be held this year in Minneapolis.

'Our focus is to provide a softball league that includes LGBT and non-LGBT members and creates a unique community of excellence, sportsmanship, and acceptance for playing softball,' said current ECSA commissioner Frank Pichinini. 'The growth in our league over the past decades has resulted in the ECSA being one of the largest NAGAAA member cities in the U.S. and Canada and the largest Gay sports organization in Seattle, as well as one of the largest softball leagues in the entire Seattle area.'

In its continuing bid to bring new members into the fold, the league is holding its annual Skills Clinic for potential players on Saturday, February 18, at 11 a.m. at the Rainier Playfield (3700 S. Alaska St.). 'We welcome anyone, regardless of skill level,' stated Frank proudly. 'There is a place for anyone in ECSA. I think one aspect that ECSA provides is the opportunity to establish great friendships. Sports leagues such as this one provide an opportunity for members of the LGBT community to play sports with friends and members of the LGBT community. I think there will always be a desire to create a community for playing sports. I see participation from the friends of the LGBT community increasing as social acceptance becomes more the norm.'

Frank is excited both about the level of play to be put on the field this season as well as the opportunity for Seattle to have a major presence during the NAGAAA World Series, scheduled for August 13-18. 'About 160 teams are expected to compete at the World Series this year [and we'll] send eight of them with every level of play represented. There is a place for everyone: A/B Division, intermediate to advanced players; C Division, intermediate players; and D Division, designed for lower skill levels and for beginners.'

Another item that has the commissioner hotly anticipating the coming season is the ECSA's own national tournament, the Emerald City Classic (ECC) to be held on June 30 and July 1. 'Teams from across the U.S. and Canada come to play in the ECC,' says Frank with a smile. 'Last year, 45 teams participated in the tournament. In 2012, we expect at least 50 teams to come to our city and compete for titles in each of the represented divisions.'

But the initial focus is on the upcoming Skills Clinic. 'Anyone participating should bring a mitt and wear either tennis shoes or softball cleats,' explained Frank. 'Most of all, though, they should be prepared for a good time. ECSA not only stands for Emerald City Softball Association, but is also an acronym that represents aspects of what our league embraces: Excellence, Community, Sportsmanship, and Acceptance. New and old players alike should be prepared to play ball, have fun, and, at the end of the day, be able to call both your teammates and foes your friends.'

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