By day, he’s a gymnast and dancer with Disney. By night and by weekend, Scott Simmons, one of the co-founders of the Long Beach Rebels softball team, pursues his love of the game with a team of good friends and great players he’s known for years. RealJock talked to Simmons after he had returned to Long Beach. Simmons told us more about his team’s experience at the Gay Games, his role in the founding of the Rebels, and how playing in a gay league has changed his life.
How did the Rebels do at the tournament?
We got bronze. For our team that was great because we played in the upper [division]. They usually separate softball into three different divisions, but [at Gay Games] there wasn’t enough in the upper division, so they combined those two divisions together. So we actually played upper division, and we still won the bronze. For our team that was really a big accomplishment.
Did you and the Rebels have a good time in Chicago?
Yes, we had a great time. A lot of time we go to these tournaments, and we have to play ball all day everyday, but here we played on Monday, and had Tuesday off, then played games on Wednesday, then had Thursday off because we were undefeated, and then Friday we played our last game. It was nice to go out in the city and have a little vacation.
Did you get to go watch other sports and other teams?
We watched other sports. There are a couple of other teams from Long Beach that we support; one is the basketball team and the other is the other division softball team. We went out and we watched them a lot, and we watched water polo, and a little bit of volleyball. It was nice to get out there and see the other athletes.
How long have the Rebels been together?
We’ve been together six years now. I actually live with my coach, and we’re roommates and friends, and we actually kind of started the team together.
That’s great. How many of the original members are still on the team? I would say about eight original members are still on the team, but two of them were playing in other sports in this tournament, because they had to choose between basketball and softball.
Did the Rebels go to Gay Games Sydney?
No, we didn’t. So this is our first Gay Games experience. It was cool for us. We usually go to the [gay world series] every year, A couple of our teammates played basketball in Sydney, so we didn’t go into the tournament completely blind to it.
What’s the Rebels’ normal play schedule when you’re not competing at the Games?
We play on the Long Beach / Orange County league. It’s called the Surf-n-Sun. It’s a Long Beach [gay] league but we play in Orange County and Westminster. We play tournaments year round. There are two seasons for our league; we have our normal season, which just ended, and then a more low-key, just-for-fun season where we encourage new people to play. It’s a good chance for people to go out and show off their skills.
Do you play any straight teams in the area?
We do. Because our team is one of the better teams in Long Beach, we join straight tournaments sometimes to get some better competition. We didn’t play in one this year, but the past few years we joined one to get better competition. And we don’t tell them that we’re gay, so it’s a secret [laughs]. So it’s like acting and playing softball at the same time. And when we beat them and they’re all demoralized, we want to say, ‘and we’re gay,’ but we don’t [laughs].
Did you play baseball or softball growing up?
I played baseball all my life. My dad was my coach my whole life. He was drafted into the semi-pros and went to college instead and started a family. So that’s pretty much what I wanted to do for a long time. But my sister was a dancer, and she went to Disneyland and she told me about an audition they were having at Disney, and I [went] and fell in love with entertainment. So that’s what I now do for my work; I’m a gymnast and a dancer [with Disney]. I gave up baseball to go into entertainment.
I thought I had to give up sports because I was deciding to be gay, and I didn’t know anything about gay athletics. But then my best friend and I were in Toronto, and we met a couple of guys that were playing softball, and my friend said, “We’re joining the softball team!” I was like, “I don’t want to play in gay sports, but I’ll come out and support you.” So I went and started to support him, and I saw that it was way more competitive than I would have imagined, and so I started playing with them. And I’ve been playing in the Long Beach league for nine yeas now.
Do you find that you’ve made a lot of close friends playing in a gay league?
Yes, definitely. My team is really cool, and we do a lot together. We fund raise for these bigger tournaments, and we hang out all of the time.
My best friend killed himself a couple of years ago and my entire team was there at the funeral to support me. They didn’t know him very well, but they were there for me. That really brought me a lot closer to my team.
I’ve made friends that will be there for me for the rest of my life through gay sports.