By John Chen
Great leaders guide us, support us, and provide us with direction, structure and confidence to achieve and to succeed. Some leaders are brash, outspoken and bask in the limelight. Others lead with their actions, results and determination. The unsung leader gives us opportunities, opens doors for us, and takes us to places we never thought we could go, and all without fanfare and without us realizing that s/he’s been there all along.
Jim Moore was such a leader.
I first met Jim in 2003 at Rainbow Recreation grass volleyball in Mountain View, where he had recently moved from Dallas. He was just a beginner then. Volleyball is a funny sport, not in a humorous way, but in the way that players interact with one another on the court compared to other sports. Due to the close proximity of teammates and opponents, and consistent stoppage of play, every word and action of encouragement or discouragement would be clearly on display for everyone to see and hear. There are no secrets and no places to hide. It wasn’t uncommon for advanced players to lavish beginners with compliments on one play, and then roll their eyes to the back of their heads on the next play. As a beginner, Jim endured many eye rolls and chuckles, but he kept playing the sport he loved, eventually surpassing many of the more advanced players in skill and ability.
In early 2004, Jim asked me to play on his Industrial Volleyball League (IVL) team where he led our team to the league championship. That was my first inkling that he would and could lead the charge of LGBT volleyball.
In 2006, Jim sat on the Board of Directors for South Bay Volleyball Club (SBVBC), volunteering his time tirelessly and establishing the only LGBT volleyball league in the San Francisco Bay Area. Jim had visions of bringing a scattered gay volleyball community together to make volleyball a strong, thriving and viable choice.
Jim always had good intentions. Understanding the barriers to entry to competitive volleyball is fairly high, so for the last 12 years, Jim organized an annual summer grass volleyball tournament just for beginning competitive players. He was dedicated to introducing and teaching the nuances of competitive volleyball. Moreover, as the President of SBVBC, Jim personally took time out to host and teach LGBT volleyball enthusiasts the game he loved above all else.
Jim didn’t have to dedicate a big part of his life to San Francisco Bay Area LGBT volleyball. He didn’t have to open doors for beginners. He didn’t have to take charge and create a more unified gay volleyball community. He didn’t have to donate equipment, so social groups could have fun playing volleyball. He didn’t have to organize tournaments for players of all levels. And he didn’t have to make personal sacrifices to see others enjoying the camaraderie built from his beloved sport. But he did.
I distinctly remember my last conversation with Jim. He told me that no matter how tired he was, he felt a great responsibility to gay volleyball. Jim didn’t care if he got recognized for his work. He just wanted me to write about volleyball and all of the opportunities out there for new players, competitive players, and social players. He wanted nothing but the best for his sport. Jim made sure of that.
Jim Moore was truly an unsung leader. We may not have realized it and given him credit, but he’s been at our side all along. He will be greatly missed.
John Chen, a UCLA alumnus and an avid sports fan, has competed as well as coached tennis, volleyball, softball, and football teams.