Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Laura At Bat

The current president of the quarter-century-old Prospect Park Women's Softball League, Laura Teeple played the game through junior high but says she chickened out during high school. "I couldn't help it if I was half the size of the other girls," said Teeple, 40, who started with the league 12 years ago.

She met her partner, Ellen, with whom she lives in a 130-year-old carriage house in Boerum Hill, 10 years ago while they were both playing in the league. Her partner has served as president for three one-year terms.Teeple, a former opera singer and Equity stage manager, is a United States Park police officer stationed in the Marine Patrol Unit in New York Harbor and charged with protecting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and the tourists who visit them."We are, if not the oldest, one of the oldest uniformed law enforcement agencies in the federal government," she said, "started in 1791 by George Washington."Teeple began as a New York City Parks enforcement officer on the Mounted Unit in Brooklyn and then Queens. She still owns a horse, along with two dogs, a ferret, and a snake. Asked what the biggest headache is with the league, she said, "Trying to keep all the folks focused on meeting and trying desperately not have to over-process everything. That's so lesbian!"

CHRISTOPHER MURRAY: What does the league president do?

LAURA TEEPLE: Basically I run our monthly meetings and try to get people from all 12 teams to participate in fundraising activities as well as social activities. I have an amazing executive team who take care of a lot of the nitty gritty details and really keep things going.

CM: How big is the league, and how many of the players are lesbians or trans folk?

LT: Well let's see, we have 12 teams of 20 player so that makes about 240 women who play 14 games during the months of May through August and wind up the season with a round robin tournament the second week of September. I'd say the vast majority of the women who play are lesbian but there are plenty of straight women who play. And call me clueless but I have no idea if we have any trans players, although all are welcome.

CM: Is competition ferocious?

LT: Sometimes that depends on the team. Some teams are definitely more competitive-minded than others. Most play for the fun of learning and playing. This is an educational league so we take women of all skill levels and try to divvy them up so the teams are balanced. Of course, people improve their play throughout the summer and depending on the team it can really make a difference when it comes to winning.

CM: Why are community sports important for women, for lesbians?

LT: Personally, I think community sports are important for people of all shapes, sizes, colors, and creeds. It gives people a sense of belonging and, not to mention, some good exercise and fun. For lesbians, in my opinion, it is an important part of community away from the bar scene, although we can and do party pretty hard! For some women the bar scene is not their thing, for others it's a chance to be outside and enjoy the company of others.

CM: Is there ever conflict between straight and gay or trans people on the teams?

LT: To my knowledge we have not had any real problems in that sense. There will always be personalities that clash on occasion, but if it doesn't get worked out there is always the transfer process during the draft the next season. Just like any team sport, the team generally comes before the individual. That doesn't mean folks aren't supportive when things happen in their teammates lives, it just means most of us are on a team to play and enjoy ourselves... oh and winning a game or two doesn't hurt.

CM: How close do people get?

LT: Um, do I have to answer that? Close. Women tend to develop close friendships, it's what we do! If two teammates start dating and then break up, that can be tricky. If it's one of those mutual breakups, staying on the same team can work, but I think most of the time for those parties involved, someone bows out or goes to another team.

CM: Is beer in integral part of league activities?

LT: Well, I can't say that we don't drink, but usually it's after a game and not during. We do have fans that bring champagne, beer, and picnics when they watch the games. Going out as a team after a game is definitely a social ritual I think most of us practice. We play during the weekdays so the vast majority of us would prefer not to go to work with a hangover!

CM: What if someone reading this is a big lesbian couch potato but thinks they might want to get involved at some point?

LT: Put on your sneaks and show up for tryouts in the spring. Find a friend and bring her too! Keep an eye out on our Web site ( for social times like our opening day party, all-star party, or other events. We are trying to get info out to people but the Web site is probably our best medium.

©GayCityNews 2007

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