Clearly, T.J. Fedyk, Chair of the Calgary Bid Committee for the North American Gay Volleyball Association Championships (May 23rd to 27th, 2013), is the man to speak to about everything volleyball.
"NAGVA is the premiere gay volleyball league in North America; there are tournaments in Mexico, Canada and the US, and over 3600 members with 30 tournaments this year. Each year the league starts June 1st until the end of May [of the next year], and the 31st season has just begun. Each year it ends with the championship tournament, which travels around: this past year it was in Las Vegas." And next year, it’ll be here in Calgary.
"When I was in Vegas this year for the tournament, I had to give a presentation to the NAGVA Board Committee for us to host the next year, and we were successful. It’s the third time in the 31 year history that it will be held in Canada. The last time it was held in Canada was in 2004 in Vancouver, and the time before that it was in Montreal"
All of this volleyball organizing is based on ‘host city tournaments’, not leagues. A host city could have many leagues working toward competing in a tournament, even from different cities. Calgary, for example, is not currently hosting a NAGVA tournament even though it won the championship bid.
"We’ve held NAGVA tournaments in the past, but this year [our team has to travel to other host cities like Los Angeles, Phoenix, or Vancouver]. And for the NAGVA championship, we’re estimating between 1,000 and 1,200 players, coming from Puerto Rico, Mexico, Canada and the United States. It’s a big gay event for our city."
The nomadic participants from Calgary, T.J.’s "travelling team", are not from a single league of play in the city. He mentions that players cover travel costs out of pocket, and have to be pretty serious volleyball players to compete in some of the leagues he plays in, while others are less competitive. So the NAGVA travelers are from Calgary, Victoria and Edmonton, and he mixes it up with different players from the other local organizations he plays volleyball with. "On Wednesdays I play at the Volleydome (co-ed intermediate competitive), Sunday afternoon is the Apollo (Friends In Sports) Inner City volleyball (men’s gay league), and I also play Monday on the men’s league out of Rally Point (mixed straight and gay)."
Clearly, T.J. likes to play volleyball.
"It’s my sport and that’s why I travel. I love being involved, and ever since my first NAGVA championship in Miami, back in 2008, I’ve wanted us to host the tournament. So after doing Western Cup for a couple of years (another league of competitive volleyball in Calgary), knowing that we can host an event of this size because Western Cup is so popular and amazing, and then getting some people on board who are willing to help out and be co-chairs on the committee; that’s when I finally went forward to Tourism Calgary and said, Okay, this is an event we need to push here in the city.’ And so they jumped on."
Now that they’ve won the bid, the real work begins: they need volunteers for the event itself and committee members from now until then. T.J. begs anyone interested to check the NAGVA Facebook page, or email the Calgary group directly. Their next meeting is on July 18th, so if you are interested, don’t delay!
Any team that has participated in a NAGVA tournament in the past two years can enter the championship, and the initial team-pool play is based on their performance during the year. It all starts on the Friday morning, and then by late Saturday afternoon tournament play is set up based on the pool play of the last couple days, and the eliminations begin. If you lose twice, you’re gone.
By Sunday afternoon, the champion will reign supreme, but before then there will be up to 27 volleyball teams from across North America bashing the balls around the University of Calgary, both in the Olympic skating oval and in the Jack Simpson gym. If a little bit of volley-drool escapes your lips at the thought, or if you’re just curious about high-level volleyball play, this will be something to see.
"It’s a gay league, but the gender of the teams doesn’t matter: it can be all men, all women, or mixed. Last year, in the AA division (which is the top division), most of the players were ex university-national players, and one of the players was from the female national team that won a medal in the last Summer Olympics. So there’s a range from the top volleyball players in North America right down to Tom Jones who’s just played for a couple of years."
And after the games end, the parties begin. See for yourself.
NAGVA – Calgary Chapter
NAGVA Championship 2013
May 18th, 2013 • Calgary, AB