3 min

The ball is in our court

Volleyball tournament rolls into town

SEXY MEN. Part of the attraction to gay volleyball. Credit: Shawn Scallen

A “bump” is not just a disco move, “set” is not just what people do to their hair with curlers, and to “spike”… well, it’s probably best to leave that one alone.

For those involved in Gay Ottawa Volleyball’s upcoming Pantheres Roses tournament, it is all about the game, not to mention the fun.

Although Pantheres Roses may be smaller than some tournaments on the gay volleyball scene, according to this year’s organizers, it is regarded as one of the best-organized and most fun by both locals and visiting participants, Mario Larochelle says, “Usually, our people are more organized. The way the tournament happens is usually very well-prepared.”

“Ottawa has a reputation for not being chintzy in terms of facilities or events. For example, there’s always a nice sit-down dinner here,” says Gay Ottawa Volleyball (GOV) and Gay Games veteran Marshall Rowat.

GOV is part of a gay volleyball phenomenon. Currently, the North American Gay Volleyball Association (NAVGA) sanctions tournaments in over a dozen cities. Interestingly, Pantheres Roses is not one of those tournaments.

Although there are NAGVA teams in Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto and several other Canadian locations, according to NAGVA’s November 2002 newsletter, the organization has only officially sanctioned one Canadian tournament: the Queen Vicky/Prince Albert in Vancouver.

“There are also more rules and regulations (as a NAGVA event), many of which I’m not even sure of,” says Rowat.

The NAGVA/non-NAGVA distinction isn’t much of an issue at Pantheres Roses, he adds.

“I used to be a card-carrying member of NAGVA,” says Rowat. “Our level is very good in Ottawa, but NAGVA makes it more logistically involved, which has its drawbacks.”

Larochelle, who has played volleyball since he was a 15-year-old in Montreal, says that 20 teams from a variety of locations will be competing in this 12th edition of the tournament, but notes that holding the tournament in Ottawa may prevent some from signing up.

“We have some from Syracuse,” says Larochelle. “Last year, we had some people from New York and Boston, but (Ottawa is) not as exciting as Montreal, so there is a little less interest.”

Larochelle points out that there are also two leagues in Montreal, Lambda and Lascar, which may help to account for the more active tournaments there.

Tony Do, however, says that the numbers are roughly similar for many other tournaments.

“With 20 teams, you’re looking at about 160 people,” says Do, another organizer of the Ottawa tournament. “We were at the Toronto tournament recently, and theirs was about the same size.”

Part of Do’s job as an organizer is to create some excitement for the participants. He is currently in the process of finding a restaurant to hold the closing dinner and corresponding games and slide show.

“People will be taking pictures over the course of the day to be shown at the tournament dinner,” says Do.

What’s the attraction to competitive gay volleyball? Larochelle jokes that part of it is “sexy men in shorts.”

He also says that “the chance to play among our peers and be out and loud” is important.

Rowat concurs.

“You’re playing with other gay men and lesbians, which is fun because you can ham it up more,” says Rowat.

“I’ve played in the Ottawa City League. They’re not as much fun; it’s more about just playing volleyball.”

Rowat also points out the social aspect of playing volleyball, or any competitive sport, in a GLBT-friendly environment. “It’s an enjoyable time and a social time,” he says. “It’s an alternative to the bar scene in terms of meeting people and hanging out.”

For Larochelle, that social aspect is not limited to playing locally. He says, “When we go to tournaments, we have the chance to make friends in other cities and meet new people as well.”

For the people playing and socializing here, the fun gets underway Fri, Apr 11, with a free registration night party at the Lookout. The tournament takes place on the 12th and 13th, with a Sat night party at AWOL for a five-dollar cover. While the tournament dinner is for participants only, Larochelle says that the public is welcome at the other parties.

If you’re interested in watching the volleyball itself, the action takes place at the Collège de l’Outaouais CÉGEP at 333 Cité des Jeunes in Gatineau. Admission is free.






Fri, Apr 11, 8PM.

The Lookout.

41 York Street (second floor), Ottawa.


Sat, Apr 12 and Sun, Apr 13.

Collège de l’Outaouais.

333, boul. Cité des Jeunes, Gatineau.


Sat, Apr 12, 10:30PM.

Club AWOL.

212 Sparks Street, Ottawa.