Mark Chambers-State of the NGBA 2022

January 12, 2022

"it is now time for me to pass the baton to the next generation."

Mark Chambers

National Gay Basketball Association

Strive, Thrive, and Change Lives

 

December 31, 2021

is stronger than it has ever been! 

At the start of 2021 NGBA was still in limbo as Covid-19 continued to keep us guessing as to  when we would be able to get together again. That time offered the NGBA an opportunity to reorganize and build the organization. The NGBA has been fortunate to have a dedicated leader in Darius Binion, who joined the NGBA in April of 2016 and took on the role as Commissioner. 

Nonprofit professional Joe Lannan came on board as a consultant in 2020. He led the push to strengthen the NGBA board and our organizational structure.  By January of 2021, an open call was posted  seeking volunteers for board positions and a Game Day Operations Director. A number of people applied and the interviews were incredible. We did not find just one game day operations person, we found five (5) Regional Directors, four (4) board director positions, a social media director, and a player/guest relations member. 

The five Regional Directors were tasked in April ‘12 with creating the NGBA Operations playbook on the formation of league and open play in cities not . This guidebook was created from scratch and with little direction. They pulled from their experiences as leaders and players to create the document that will be used to guide them and future directors.

I started my journey with the NGBA in 1998, but it was not until 2002 that this organization was something that I realized really needed to be formed to bring minimum standards to LGBT+ basketball events. It was not an easy task.  Like the task given to the regional directors, there was no road map on how to form the NGBA and how to make it sustainable.  Over the next four years the NGBA started taking shape with the help of Jeff Hermann, Ted Cappas, and Rob Smithermann.  The NGBA was officially formed in 2004 and went live in 2006 at the end of the Chicago Gay Games. 

 

Founder and President

The next four years changed my life. The first official NGBA event took place in Salt Lake City (at the invitation of Jeff Sanchez) in October of 2006. The first membership meeting was also held following that tournament, at which I planned to lay out the vision for the NGBA. Well… that meeting (protest) did not go so well. Some of the city leagues did not support the formation of the NGBA and a few of the people that attended the meeting vocalized that message. This opposition forced me to rethink the message I wanted and needed to communicate to the players to get buy-in on the vision. This led me to enroll in city college in 2007 to learn how to write cogently, and it ended up taking me all the way to a bachelor’s degree from UCLA in 2012. 

In 2010, my first year at UCLA, I took a step back from the NGBA as I worked towards a plan on how to run the NGBA and to focus on the details. Needless to say, I have lived my dream over the past 20 years, and I have had the pleasure of working with very talented people who shared a vision of the NGBA that helped lead it to where it is today. I thank you: Simon Griffin (Philly), Darren Orten (Salt Lake), Jason Jaramillo (Los Angeles), Jack Leitch (Oakland), and Robbie Baker (the world) for your contributions in taking the NGBA to the next level and helping me stay sane. I thank my husband, Stephan Sauer, for without his support the NGBA may never have been started.  

 

With all that being said, it is now time for me to pass the baton to the next generation. Starting January 1, 2022, I will no longer be handling the day-to-day operations or running NGBA tournaments (I told y’all it was coming).  I will remain on the board as the President to continue building on the mission of the NGBA with VP Joe Lannan, Commissioner Darius Binion, Women’s Director Dianna Prince, and Board members Anare Holmes (Sponsorship) and Jack Leitch.

I am confident that the state of the NGBA will remain strong with the leadership of Darius and the Regional Directors.  It is with great pleasure – and relief – to officially introduce the National Gay Basketball Association’s leadership for day-to-day operations:

Commissioner Daris Binion ` darius.binion@ngba.org

Women’s Director Dianna Prince dianna.prince@ngba.org

Regional Director  JJ Suddreth jj.suddreth@ngba.org

NorthWest → MidWest 

Regional Director ` Mike Green Michael.green@ngba.org

Mid Atlantic → MidWest

Regional Director   Jason Jaramillo  Jason.jaramillo@ngba.org

South West → MidWest

Regional Director    Chris Manning  chris.manning@ngba.org

Southwest → Southern East Coast

Regional Director Adrian Collins  adrian.collins@ngba.org

North East → East Coast 

Finally, I want to thank all of the people who over the years have stepped up to pitch in and help do the little things that made the NGBA a success. To the new folks doing the little things, Charles Smith, Social Media Director, and Jarrod Burton Guest Relations, thank you for your time and dedication. Last but not least I want to thank Mr Harold Kane, Photographer & historian of LGBT+ Basketball. He has captured the NGBA journey in photos and someday those photos will tell an amazing story. It has truly been a pleasure to work with you and have your much needed support and guidance. 

Thank you City leaders, captains and players, you are the lifeblood of the NGBA and the reason it will continue to Strive – Thrive – Change Lives 

 

Mark Chambers

Founder and President

 

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