AUSTIN (KXAN) – One of the largest and oldest Deaf softball tournaments held its 56th annual softball tournament in Austin Friday and Saturday. 

The Southwest Softball Association for the Deaf (SWSAD) is a nonprofit which hosts an annual tournament for men, women and co-ed teams from Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida. 

On Saturday, hundreds of deaf players and spectators from all over the U.S. came out in the triple-digit heat to play softball, buy goods from Deaf-owned vendors and connect with their community. 

“Deaf people don’t see each other often,” said Paige Thompson, a SWSAD board member.

“They like to get together, share memories, make new memories and meet old friends and new friends. That’s the best thing that they can do because everyone is so spread out, and they’re a small community,” she continued. 

Chad Bishop is the commissioner of the organization and said he was heartened by this year’s turnout. He said roughly 300 people were signed up to play at Krieg Softball Field in Austin and hundreds more came to watch.

“This is the first time we’ve had many vendors, and everyone is shocked and amazed,” Bishop said. “Hopefully it will [continue] to grow again.”