Union of soccer and Pride kicks off

Pride nights by professional sports organizations are becoming more common as the seasons go by. The Philadelphia Union aims to score with its LGBT soccer fans with its first Pride night July 26, for a matchup against the Columbus Crew SC at Talen Energy Field. The first official Philadelphia Union Pride Night, presented by the Pennsylvania Lottery, sprang up quickly this season, but there is plenty for the inaugural year to make LGBT fans feel welcome.

Union sales rep TJ Smink and fan-service rep Alyssa Gentile told PGN that fans can get in on the fun before the game even starts, with a pre-game celebration at the Toyota Plaza that includes live music with DJ Jovi Baby and representatives from Youth Valley House and You Can Play Project, the beneficiaries for the night.

Inside, there will be recognition on-field for Patrick Cahill, the board of governors chair for Valley Youth House who leads the #CouchesDontCount program, which highlights the plight of youth who may, on any given night, be couch-surfing because they have no permanent home.

The national anthem will get star treatment as well during the pre-game ceremonies, performed by singer/songwriter Gretchen Schultz, who has performed at Philly Pride, New Hope Pride and at the inaugural Chester County Pride Fest last year.

Expect to see rainbow flags, rainbow nets and, courtesy of Sons of Ben, a rainbow smoke display. (For the uninitiated, the Sons of Ben take up most of the end zone and were instrumental in getting a professional soccer team in Philadelphia.) If that’s not enough rainbow for you, there will be a variety of Pride-themed gear like shirts and scarves with the Union logo available at a special price.

Groups of 10 or more can get special rates and should email either [email protected] or [email protected]. See you there!

Fielding their second official Pride Night, the Philadelphia Phillies proudly host an old-fashioned double-header against the Florida Marlins Aug. 22. The 4:05 p.m. game is a make-up from a rain-cancelled one earlier in the year, with the official Pride game commencing at 7:35 p.m. or thereabouts, depending upon the earlier game. Extra innings means extra waiting.

The evening game is the official Pride Night game, but your ticket will get you into both. It will make for a long day, but an experience not many people get to have. It’s a pretty rare two-for-one ticket price that cannot be ignored!

This year’s giveaway is a pair of rainbow socks with the Phillies “P” logo on them. They are free for the first 1,000 tickets purchased with the special code PRIDE. Go to the Phillies’ Facebook events page and scroll to Aug. 22 for more information and the link to order tickets.

And in the meantime, get out and play!

Short stops

  • A salute to the more-than 100 Stonewallers and friends who headed to the nation’s capital for the annual summer tournament July 14-16. Kudos especially to sand volleyball second-place performers Sets on the Beach and the fourth place Rough Sets. Betsy Ross’ Speed Balls took fifth in the dodgeball competition. For information on Stonewall PHL and its new bowling league this fall, head to stonewallphilly.org.
  • This weekend you can head up to the Youth Legacy Tennis and Education Center at 4842 Ridge Ave. to catch a few games, sets and matches during the Philadelphia Open, hosted by our very own Philadelphia Liberty Tennis Association. Exact dates and times can be found at philadelphialibertytennis.org/philly-open.
  • Reminder that a representative from Gay Games XI will be kicking off the city-wide registration for next year’s competitions. The evening includes giveaways, specials and more from 6-9 p.m. July 27 at Boxers.

Scott A. Drake was the 2015 Sigma Delta Chi national winner for best sports photo and the 2017 Professional Keystone Press Awards winner for best sports column in a weekly paper. If you have a person or event you think should be highlighted, email [email protected].

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