With LGBTQ+ Pride Month coming to an end, let's highlight the continued partnership between the New York Giants and the New York Gay Flag Football League.
The NYGFL is a 7-on-7 flag football league inclusive to all, but primarily catering to the LGBTQIA+ community in and around New York City. The league has seen tremendous growth over the years and is currently one of the largest gay flag football leagues in the country. After being founded in 2004 with just six teams and 80 players, the league has grown into 24+ teams (combined between the Women's+ and Open divisions) and a community of well over 400 active members annually.
The partnership between Giants and the NYGFL began in 2017. Natalie Wizel, Content Producer in the Giants' Marketing department, has been an active member of the NYGFL since 2016 and a captain since 2017. Upon becoming a captain that year, Wizel was able to participate on some of the league's tournament teams. The NYGFL sends teams consisting some of the league's most competitive players to several tournaments each year, including the Florida Sunshine Cup every February, Chicago Pride in June, and the national Gay Bowl Tournament in October. These tournaments require booking flights and hotels, so team members reach out to people within their circles for sponsorship opportunities. This was what sparked the connection between the NYGFL and the Giants.
The Giants recently welcomed members of the NYGFL to the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in honor of Pride Month.
"Today for the first time, we're actually getting members of our community to meet with the Giants, to meet with some of our staff, our players, actually get them in the building and kind of see what the Giants are all about," Wizel said during the visit.
In addition to bringing several league members to the facility for a visit, the Giants also presented the NYGFL with a $10,000 contribution.
"It's been amazing having the Giants support us and actually come to the table and partner with us as a community," said NYGFL Commissioner Monty Clinton. "It shows the Giants' commitment to support our league and help us thrive. I think it's really important having the Giants' support, it helps continue to break down barriers around diversity and inclusion within sports."
Added Wizel: "It's been wonderful. The Giants have supported us financially in helping provide funding for tournaments, uniforms and anything that comes with running a flag football league. It's really important for the partnership to grow. We just hope to continue to have events like this."
Some of the members of the NYGFL's Hall of Fame and Board came to East Rutherford to check out the facilities, meet some of the players and staff members and throw a football around the practice field.
It served as a great opportunity to celebrate Pride Month and acknowledge the various members of the NYGFL.
"This relationship is magnificent," NYGFL Hall of Fame member Leslie Goldstein stated during the visit. "It's something we've worked hard for with the NYGFL to bring to light just the LGBT community, and really have a connection to a national organization and a team like the Giants just helps us feel included and welcome in sports, which hasn't always happened in the past. It's really important for us…
"Getting to play on the field where they practice and they have meetings, running our routes, throwing balls, it was definitely the highlight of my day, my week, and something I'll remember for a long time."
The visit to the Quest Diagnostics Training Center was also meant to celebrate the NYGFL's newest Hall of Fame inductees. The NYGFL Hall of Fame serves to recognize the achievement and contributions its members have made to both the sport of flag football and the LGBTQIA+ community. To be considered for the Hall of Fame, a person must exemplify at least one of the three pillars.
Competition: An NYGFL player that has demonstrated significant and high levels of play on the football field. A player that can create a significant presence on the field as a football player, and is undeniably an extreme resource to any team.
Contribution: An NYGFL community member that has made a significant contribution to the betterment of the league. Ways in order to qualify for this category could and should be involvement as a Board member, captain, referees, sponsor.
Community: An NYGFL member that has gone beyond the limits of the league and has contributed to the greater New York City LGBTQIA+ community. This can be both in terms as an activist, or social parameters.
The Hall of Fame is managed and voted on by active NYGFL Hall of Fame members.
The 2022 NYGFL Hall of Fame Class consists of Maya Shoham-Marquez, Kelvin Cabrera and Steven Tedaldi. In addition, Kurt Kelly (owner of Stonewall Inn) will be inducted as an Honorary Hall of Fame member.
Maya Shoham-Marquez is an eight-time league captain and three-time NYGFL local team champion, and has spent five years as a Board Member, serving as the Women's+ Division Assistant Commissioner. Shoham-Marquez plays quarterback and has shown tremendous leadership skills both on and off the field, and is a longtime travel tournament player, leader and award recipient.
Kelvin Cabrera is a longtime NYGFL player and referee who captained the Spring 2013 Open Division Championship Team. Cabrera is a recipient of both the Commissioner's Award and Silver Whistle Award, and is a longtime National Tournament Referee, taking part in many Gay Bowl and Pride Bowl tournaments.
Steven Tedaldi is a two-time NYGFL team champion, a Commissioner's Award recipient and a longtime NYGFL player, captain, quarterback and leader. Tedaldi was a Volunteer Team Leader at Gay Bowl XIX in New York, and has played an important role over the last decade in making the NYGFL a welcoming and meaningful community for so many members.
Kurt Kelly, who is one of the owners of the historic Stonewall Inn, is a longtime sponsor and supporter of the NYGFL.