Stonewall Sports League

From left: Jonathan Melton, Wes Scercy, Max Fitch, Britt Ellis, Richard Flenory, Will Brackett, and Paul Cash.

“You go from having teammates to having friends and then you go from having friends to having family.”
–Richard Flenory, community outreach director of Stonewall Sports League and avid kickball player

by Jessie Ammons

photograph by Travis Long

Spring conjures a friendly game of kickball for Richard Flenory and his fellow Stonewall Sports league participants. “You hear people, teammates calling out, screaming – the clapping, the cheering. Dogs. People hugging each other because they haven’t seen each other.”

One of Flenory’s first activities after moving to Raleigh in March 2014 was to attend the kickball game of a few friends. He was struck by the family-like atmosphere at first. “Then I found out it’s an LGBT league,” knew it was the right fit, and signed up. “The league’s original intent was to give the LGBT community a safe environment to be athletic and play sports in,” he says, adding that all are welcome regardless of sexual orientation. “We have people of all sexualities, religions, and ethnicities.”

Open-minded camaraderie is precisely what founder
Jonathan Melton says he hoped to accomplish by starting the Raleigh recreational sports league in 2013 (inspired by his friends’ original chapter in DC). It started as a few teams playing weekly kickball games; today Stonewall encompasses more than 1,000 members on kickball, dodgeball, volleyball, bowling, and flag football teams. Weekly games end in a shared meal or happy hour, and teams also volunteer together at organizations like Habitat for Humanity or Note in the Pocket. “The diversity of our service projects reflects the same diversity we have in our league,” says Flenory.

Melton says the crowd favorite remains kickball, which opens registration this month and plays April – June. “We call kickball our gateway sport. It’s something most people are familiar with from when they were a kid. It’s not intimidating. It’s a welcoming environment.”