Lexington's first gay volleyball league welcomes all skill levels

Team Lex Volleyball member Brad Poer went airborne during a pick-up game. Effort counts more than skill does in league play.
Team Lex Volleyball member Brad Poer went airborne during a pick-up game. Effort counts more than skill does in league play.

John Rhyne of Lexington admits he is not a natural athlete.

But that doesn't matter a bit on Thursday evenings as Rhyne, a board member for the new Team Lex Volleyball league, Lexington's first gay volleyball organization, gamely tries to learn the basics of setting the ball.

The LGBT-friendly league play included all levels of skill: Some players are masters of the kill, strategically eyeing an undefended spot on the opposite side of the court, while others are just learning to keep the ball in play.

Whatever the skill ability, everyone commends good effort by the other team.

Not every player is gay, but all like to play volleyball in good company.

By day they are Web programmers, financial counselors, massage therapists. By evening they put on their jerseys and sneakers and take to the court.

The group began playing three weeks ago.

"I thought this would be a good way to get involved in the gay community," Rhyne said. "It's much more welcoming. We want all kinds of people to learn to play and learn their skills. We're trying to be a club like other clubs."

The league plays in a new volleyball center which opened in April and is located out Old Frankfort Pike past New Circle. It features both hard and sand courts, eight courts total.

Some players found the group through the North American Gay Volleyball Association, which lists leagues from the Hotlanta Volleyball Association in Atlanta to the Columbus Alternate Volleyball Enthusiasts in Ohio.

Other Team Lex members had been playing in loosely organized groups around town. The Lexington group received cash donations to get the league started from the Cincinnati gay volleyball league's Cincinnati Drama Queen Classic tournament in March.

Member Scott Pittman said he likes the group's generous feel.

"There's more of a laid-back feel," he said. "You can be yourself with people who are more accepting."

Organizer Ben de Jesus said the group has 36 members and room for more than 100. When de Jesus moved to Lexington from Pittsburgh, which had an active gay volleyball league with 130 members, he wanted Lexington's gay community to have the same opportunity for exercise and networking.

Brad Poer, communications director for the league who speaks softly but carries a strong, precise arm on the court, said that the importance of the league is that it mixes members of the gay community with others who want a competitive and fun workout.

"It's not just gay men and gay women," Poer said. "It's anyone who wants to play, from people who have never played to those who played in college."

League play is important, de Jesus said, because "it really makes a difference when you can play with the same people every week."

Team Lex Volleyball

When: 6:30-9:30 p.m. Thursdays

Where: Bluegrass Volleyball Center, 709 Miles Point Way (off Old Frankfort Pike outside New Circle)


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