In 2013, Martin Espinoza and Mark Gustasson wanted to find a fun place to play kickball where they and others could always feel welcome, so they decided to organize an inclusive, low-cost, nonprofit sports organization with a philanthropic heart. Stonewall Sports was then born with Stonewall Kickball being the first organized league.
When Jonathan Melton and several others wanted to bring this concept to the Triangle, they thought “Maybe we can get 4 teams of people together for this.” Much to their surprise the first season of Stonewall Kickball in Raleigh attracted 8 teams of 20 players.
As of Fall 2019, Stonewall Sports Raleigh has had over 2,000 individuals playing Kickball, Volleyball, Dodgeball, Flag Football, Bowling, Tennis, and participating in our Run Club throughout the year, and in just a few weeks we will be launching our Softball League consisting of 125 players.
As we continue to accomplish our mission, we have also taken even more dynamic steps to increase awareness of our Community in the Triangle.
- This past summer we hosted the Stonewall Sports National Tournament in Raleigh where we welcomed over 1,500 Stonewall Sports players from across all cities with Stonewall leagues, a feat that many thought would be impossible, but ended up being the most successful tournament to date.
- The “Gayborhood Project” is a mural project located at the intersection of McDowell and Morgan Street was created in June 2019 by our league to honor the LGBTQ community that has existed in this city for decades (especially in the Warehouse District) and has been a driving force in being a pillar of diversity that has and continues to make this City great.
- In addition, we also supported the City of Raleigh’s first LGBTQ History Trolley Tours this past June by working with organizers to incorporate information about Stonewall Sports into their tour plan. Trolley tourists were given a 50-minute tour of the City’s significant past and present LGBTQ sites and we were honored to have our League included in the discussions about the City’s LGBTQ Community.
Stonewall Sports has always and will continue to use its resources to benefit local organizations that do the work of serving and healing our community. Recently, our Dodgeball League held a charity car wash with the proceeds supporting Cause for Paws and our Bowling League held a supplies drive (canned goods and personal hygiene products) supporting the Alliance of AIDS Services.
The LGBT Center of Raleigh has been a local beneficiary of Stonewall Sports Raleigh since our inception. We are extremely grateful for this support, and we are honored and humbled to once again accept this award, and even more excited about what we are going to accomplish together in the coming years.
And we are grateful that they do! From their very beginning, Stonewall Sports has demonstrated amazing commitment to our community, and we are proud to recognize them as the Organization of the Year for 2019. Please join them and all their friends at the Fall Achievement Benefit (FAB) at CAM Raleigh on Saturday, October 5th. Tickets to the event are on sale now.