Carolina men, Colorado women win at NSAD

Originally appeared in Silent News, November 2001.

A sense of patriotism was apparent in every corner of the National Softball Association of the Deaf (NSAD) tournament held Sept. 28-30 in New Orleans, La. Players, fans, and referees braved the looming sense of danger from the Sept. 11 attacks as they flew to New Orleans through major security checks.

With most of the teams displaying the American flag on their shirts or caps, and an American flag waving over the fields, 26 men, 11 women, and 6 co-ed teams for a total of 43 participated in the double-elimination tournament.

“I was really impressed with the high-spirited patriotism of the players and fans here at the tournament,” said tournament chairperson Dan Arabie, who credited his committee for the successful tournament.

Teams began arriving on Wednesday night with registration on Thursday. NSAD meetings were held all day on Thursday, and for nightlife, people flocked to the nearby infamous Bourbon Street. “Bourbon Street was a good place to hang out after all day at the softball fields,” Leon Parker of Georgia said. “Everything was happening on that street, but it’s not just Bourbon Street that made the New Orleans experience. There was the French Quarter, the waterfront, French Market, and so many other places!”

Games were played on a four-field playing ground, with a concession stand and tables providing respite for hungry fans and tired players. The co-ed games were played on a separate field, just a short distance down the road from the main field. Over 1,300 people attended, including 700 players and 500 fans. Twelve deaf referees were also part of the tournament.

Favorites Minnepaul, Austin, and Carolina were quickly reconsidered as Minnepaul lost to Atlanta in a first-round upset. Minnepaul again understood the sour taste of defeat when they lost to Tampa Bay in the loser’s bracket, ending their quest for the championship at 2-2.

One of the drawbacks to the tournament seemed to be the sand on the infield. Player after player tripped as they ran home. Due to the climate of New Orleans, the sand was quite soft, making it difficult to have solid footing at time.

The tournament cultivated with two exciting championship finales. The Tampa Bay women’s team battled the experienced and stronger Colorado Springs team, giving Colorado the championship title (see stories of both championships on page 4). The aging Chicago team – although with its share of youngsters – just would not quit, battling the Carolina team in their fourth and fifth games straight without a break. Carolina clinched the title with a tie-breaking, and winning, run in extra innings.

“Many games were close games. I think we had at least five games forced into extra innings,” Vance Rewolinski, NSAD Commissioner said. “The championship game was very close – the closest we’ve had since 1988 in Dallas.”

After the nerve-wracking final game, awards were handed out. Michelle Malcolm of the Colorado Springs team won Most Valuable Player for the women’s tournament, and the men’s MVP went to Carolina’s Justin Moor. Coaches of the tournament were Betty Bonni of Colorado and Terry DeBoer of Chicago Catholic Ephpheta.

There was no ballroom event held that night, because as a planning committee member said, “We all knew everyone would prefer to go to Bourbon Street and celebrate there.”

“All the teams seemed to really enjoy themselves. There were no complaints,” Rewolinski said.

“I would love to go to future NSAD tournaments. I had such a great time, meeting many new and old faces,” Parker, who was attending his first NSAD tournament, said.

The next tournament will be held in Chicago on Sept. 12-14, 2002. For more information, visit www.nsad.org.

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