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Sports a great way to meet people

Dan DeVette joined volleyball after coming out

PLAYING IN BOTH CHICAGO AND MONTREAL. Dan DeVette will play for the Philadelphia volleyball team in Chicago and Ottawa's team in Montreal. Ottawa's team will play for a medal, he says. Credit: Pat Croteau

Dan DeVette is excited about both the upcoming Gay Games in Chicago, and the Outgames in Montreal. This year, for the first time, he’ll be competing in an international sporting event, representing Ottawa’s volleyball league.

“I’ve been in several tournaments here, Montreal, Toronto and then our team has also travelled to the US for tournaments,” Dan says of his previous competitions. “It was just a natural progression.”

The fact that the Outgames are in Montreal also helped seal the deal. “We’re practically sister cities and within the gay volleyball community, we know them, they know us, year after year we see the same people playing and it’s just very natural for us. But I’m not only going for that — I can’t wait to see some of the other sports events. The opening and closing ceremonies sound fantastic. It’s all going to be pretty unique.”

Going to the Gay Games in Chicago were something that DeVette didn’t expect to be doing, though he and another Ottawa athlete will be playing with a Philadelphia team rather than a local one.

“It’ll be more low-key — a team that’s not as high a level competitively,” DeVette says. “For me it’ll be a lot of fun, there won’t be as much pressure.”

But which of the two is he most looking forward to? DeVette seems torn. “Chicago because I’ve never been, and I’ve heard a lot of great things about the city, so I’m almost looking forward more to seeing the city,” he says. “In terms of the actual sporting event, probably Montreal. I get the sense that it’s going to be a bit more of an international flavour and feel, whereas Chicago is probably going to be a lot more North American and American players. I think I will enjoy Montreal a little more.”

DeVette started playing with the gay volleyball team about six years ago when he first came out. It offered a way to meet other gay men. Since then, he’s become one of the organizers of the gay men’s volleyball league. By day, DeVette works at the Heart Institute as a technician in one of the research labs. And while he admits to being something of a homebody at times, he also knows that he can’t sit still for long.

“For Montreal, the team will be there for the competition,” he says. “The good side is that we’ll be done by Tuesday, so everybody on the team will have the rest of the week to relax, party and do whatever they want. I think we’re keyed up to try to play well and to do our best.”

And the Gay Games? “When I go to Chicago, it’s just to have fun. I don’t think the competition level will be as high. Certainly I think in Montreal we’re going to try to do well.”

DeVette is hopeful that Ottawa’s volleyball team will have a shot at a medal in Montreal, and he plans to make Ottawa proud.