Recently, Add-a-Ball in Fremont asked me if I’d be interested in running an all-girls pinball tournament once a month. This sounded like a fantastic idea and by now I’ve got a fair amount of experience between a few Shorty’s (with Skill Shot) and one Full Tilt Ballard tourney. We initially talked about making this a weekly event like Add-a-Ball’s Wednesday Flip Offs, but decided monthly would be better for turnout and less likely to burn out. Since last Skill Shot print, I’ve hosted three of these girl-aments called Babes in Pinland.
We set up our first on November 14th as a trial run with little over a week’s notice, but still managed to pull out 17 killer ladies! As a special surprise I brought enough nail polish for each player to get a free bottle with registration, making everyone a winner. I quickly found that playing while also running a tournament this large can get extremely overwhelming.
There was a massive birthday party held that night as well, and we had a few issues with the unexpected crowd. The ladies involved were not only competing against each other but also competing for openings on the tables they were slated to play each round. This tended to drag on the match play, though every girl involved was very patient and committed to having a great time. Things were business as usual until two players on Attack From Mars were called the C-word by a pair of drunk dudes. Thanks to the awesome staff of Add-a-Ball for promptly kicking them out!
Once I was knocked out of my own tournament, things went a lot smoother since I could answer everyone’s questions. There were also a surprising amount of guys who showed up just to spectate and cheer on their friends. Hannah impressed everyone by making it to the finals against Claire, Add-a-Ball’s bartender, without a single strike against her.
The second event drew fewer girls, though still a respectable showing. I wasn’t able to make it on time and Claire graciously kicked things off for us. With no birthday party going on, there was little to no wait time for games. It was also nice to not have to meander through a crowded bar with people bumping players as they walked by. Nycole Hyatt emerged victorious over Amanda Kunzi, who put up quite the fight, even playing without her trademark high heels.
Since starting this tournament, I’ve gotten a lot of jokes about it being sexist from both strangers and men I’m friends with. When a guy asks me when the all-guys tournament is, I tell them it’s every other pinball tournament ever with the exception of one or two girls. No, guys, you can’t play if you tuck or dress in drag. SORRY. In the few times I’ve run this, the women who show up are endlessly grateful for a competitive environment that focuses more on friendship and fun.
I heard so many matches start with, “I don’t care, do you want to go first or second?” and end with variations of “Great game! You played amazing!” or “That’s ok, you’re going to totally win your next match. It was so fun playing you!”
So, dudes, take note: This exists as a rad girls’ night out where we can play each other for fun, glory and community building. Cash prizes to the top three also helps, but at the end of the night, we’re mainly stoked to meet more gals to play pinball with!