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A Letter from our Executive Director

Dear ASANA community,

As we begin ASANA’s 16th year, I want to share with you all the excitement I have for our organization's progress in 2023 and as I look ahead to all we have planned for 2024. 

We start this year with three newly elected Directors- a degree of change our Board has not experienced in some time. The new additions- Katie Villalobos, Communication; Ashley Wiegele, Events; and Jessica Sica, Competition- have been a great compliment to our incumbent members- myself, Executive Director (2016), Brandi Crass, Finance (2022); and Rosalyn Bugg, Tournament Director (2022). The balance of experience and legacy, with bold new ideas and perspectives is inspiring. As I have watched this organization grow from the NAGAAA Women’s Division to its own in 2008, ASANA is constantly reaching for new heights and pushing the boundary to be the best softball tournament we can be for our members. Thank you all for making ASANA great!

During our recent Board Retreat, we spent several days together sharing stories of our lives, softball highlights, professional experiences, and even personal struggles. We bonded in a way that represents what I have always felt was a missing letter in our LGBTQ+ community, and that is F for family.

We also spent time reviewing our successes from the 2023 World Series in San Diego, finalizing some off-season projects, planning for the 2024 World Series, and most importantly building our network in Memphis. 

2023 Successes

  • 85 Teams!

  • Voted best ever opening event!

  • New partnerships with vendors and CVB’s from across the US

Off Season Projects

  • New Website

  • New Tournament Software

  • Review of Bylaws 

2024 Highlights

  • Amazing field complex

  • Seeking collaboration with Memphis Redbirds

  • Showcasing the rich history of Memphis

This year’s world series location- Memphis, Tennessee- is one that I am personally excited to host after preliminarily planning for the last two years. For those that are not aware, the conversations with Memphis first started back in 2021 as I began to travel again, attending the Connect conference in Tampa, Florida. I was approached by Brandon Benson and Kimberly Wells, two directors with the Memphis Tourism Bureau. They were excited to learn about ASANA and the characteristics of the destinations we typically seek to host our tournament. They both felt that Memphis would be the perfect place to put on our list. From those initial conversations, a partnership has formed and I invited Brandon to attend our 2022 Winter Meeting in Washington DC to bid for a future series. His presentation to our Delegation of 40+ representatives from leagues all over the country was presented with excitement and the group voted unanimously to host the 2024 World Series in Memphis!

From that meeting, ASANA and the Memphis Tourism Bureau have been working together to highlight Memphis as a premier ASANA destination, networking with local LGBTQ+ organizations, and to form relationships with Bluff City Sports Association leaders- the local LGBTQ+ athletic organization. 

Bluff City Sports Association/Bluff City Softball, are currently NAGAAA members and have been offered a PNC Membership with ASANA for the 2024 season. It is our goal that with the success of the 2024 World Series, they can become full members, we can help them grow the ASANA eligible players in their league and attend our tournament every year. We are also looking forward to paving the way for the NAGAAA Cup that will be held in Memphis, at the same complex, in 2025.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also take this time to acknowledge the perception we are facing of hosting our tournament in Memphis. It is my firm belief that it is part of our organization’s mission to broaden the visibility of our community, diversity, and acceptance. By hosting in different cities, coast-to-coast, we work toward this mission every year; and every year it must be achieved with our participants' safety in mind. ASANA is dedicated to continuing our commitment toward player and participant safety. As always, we will have comprehensive safety plans in place for the field complex, host hotel, and event venues. We have also met with local law enforcement in both the town of Millington and Shelby County Sheriff's Office. Most notably, we have fostered a relationship with Lt. Natalie Hillman, the LGBTQ+ liaison with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office  and look forward to continuing under her guidance as we develop safety plans in both Memphis and Millington. She has 25+ years of experience as a law enforcement representative. She works hand in hand with both the Mayor’s Office, City Leaders and many non-profit LGBTQ+ organizations in Memphis. Not only is she passionate about her job, but she also lives in Millington, where the USA Stadium is located. She and all of her contacts will be instrumental to the success of our event and to ensure safety for all of our participants.  

Make no mistake, participant safety is ASANA’s top priority in any city we visit. We do this while respecting the history, culture and communities of the places our tournament takes us to, regardless of local and state laws that may differ from the places we call home. Memphis is rich in historical significance and ASANA is excited to showcase this amazing city and offer a new perspective to players that are traveling to cities they might not otherwise visit. 

As I mentioned earlier, we are in the midst of launching a new website and encourage you to keep an eye on over the next several weeks as we have plans to build out all of the resources, connections, and FAQs we are gathering for the 2024 World Series!

Happiest of Holidays to everyone,

Angela Smith Signature

Executive Director, Amateur Sports Alliance of North America


More detail on the great local networks we are establishing:

Memphis Tourism Bureau 

Brandon Benson Director of National Accounts: Northeast Region

Kimberly Wells Director of Convention Services/CRM Administrator

Law Enforcement

Shelby County Sheriff

Lieutenant Natalie Hillman, the LGBTQ+ Liaison, Shelby County Sheriff

Millington Police Department (Millington is the town where field complexes are located)

Chief Chris Stokes, Millington Police Department

Rita K. Stanback, Inspector, Millington Police Department

Local LGBTQ+ Organizations

Anu Iyer

Director of Community & Family Initiatives

Vanessa Rodley - President Mid-South Pride

Austin Rowe, Board President

Diane Duke, President/CEO

LGBTQ+  Supporters & Vendors

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