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    Bay Area’s LGBTQ Volleyball Community Unites, Grows to Over 1000 Players

    By John Chen–

    We’ve all heard the popular saying that holds “a lesbian is not a true lesbian unless she plays softball.” Similarly, but not quite on the same scale, volleyball is said to be the sport of choice for gay men because players aren’t measured and judged by their appearance and mannerisms, but by their skills and the uniformity of the team. Furthermore, volleyball has great appeal due to the game’s fast-paced, aggressive, and exciting style of play where every point is meaningful, and every over the top cheer and extravagant celebration are priceless.

    I remember my volleyball competitive days when a group of friends formed a team. Its members had to meet at least one of the three following criteria: under 125 pounds, 28 inches or smaller waistline, and/or sporting a minimum genitalia size of (censored). Unfortunately, I was not size-correct, not by a long shot. I missed the cut by lots and lots of pounds and an inch here and there. But I digress.

    The team wore outlandish costumes, such as matching “Wonder Woman” outfits and had the most creative and hilarious cheers including the “devastated drop.” The drop happened when an unexpected but impactful play occurred against the team, and one member would yell “devastated,” and the whole team would simultaneously drop to the floor in total devastation. This type of free expression is why volleyball speaks favorably to LGBT athletes.

    2020 Nor Cal Classic B Division Gold Medal Team San Francisco Chika Lang, Silver Medal Team San Jose Gameboi, and Bronze Medal Team Santa Rosa Las J’s

    With volleyball being an immensely popular sport in the LGBT community, it is no surprise that San Francisco is home to one of the largest community-based LGBT volleyball organizations, the Balls of Furry Volleyball Group. Recently, the Balls of Furry merged with the historic LGBT South Bay Volleyball Club, unifying our Bay Area LGBT volleyball community with well over 1,000 members participating in open and social play, skills clinics, leagues, and tournaments all over the Bay Area.

    Richard Sucre, current President of Balls of Furry, serves our volleyball community with great pride, enthusiasm, vision, and dedication. Under Sucre’s leadership, the Balls of Furry grew from two teams, approximately thirty members, to an entire organization running grassroots beginner programs, multiple leagues, and one regional and one national North America Gay Volleyball Association (NAGVA) tournament.

    Richard Sucre, President of Balls of Furry Volleyball Group and Nor Cal Classic Tournament Director

    “We’re all about inclusiveness,” Sucre told me for the San Francisco Bay Times. “This is our identity. We welcome players of all backgrounds, gender identification, sizes, and levels, including beginners wanting to learn. [Balls of Furry] works closely with and supports numerous San Francisco Recreation and Parks volleyball programs such as seasonal leagues, clinics, open and social play.”

    Sucre added, “We also put on two competitive NAGVA tournaments. First, is a more regional tournament, the Nor Cal Classic. Now in its 33rd year, the Nor Cal Classic attracts teams mostly from the West Coast with the majority of the teams hailing from Northern California. The tournament is held on President’s Day Weekend. This year we had 48 teams and 400 players competing in three divisions.”

    This past President’s Day Weekend, in Mountain View and Santa Clara, teams like Multiple Scoregasms and Fresh Meat competed in the B division at the 33rd Annual Nor Cal Classic, bringing their own interpretation of what it means to be part of an LGBT volleyball team. Such spirit and pageantry in a safe and accepting environment are why so many LGBT athletes choose to play volleyball.

    Sucre concluded, “In addition to the Nor Cal Classic, every year during the 4th of July Weekend, we along with Jonny Sloan run the Red, White and Blue tournament in San Francisco. Red, White and Blue is one of the largest NAGVA tournaments and is also considered a national tournament with many teams traveling from the Midwest, the East, and even Canada to compete. Tournaments have great energy and exciting atmosphere where teams congregate and socialize closely in an intimate setting. Whether you want to compete or just play for fun and make friends, we encourage everyone to come out and play volleyball.”

    For more information on volleyball clinics for beginners, open and social play, leagues and tournaments, visit https://www.ballsoffurryvolleyball.org/

    John Chen, a UCLA alumnus and an avid sports fan, has competed as well as coached tennis, volleyball, softball and football teams.

    Published on March 11, 2020