The Lone Star Volleyball Association celebrates its 25th anniversary.
by Donalevan Maines
The Lone Star Volleyball Association (LSVA) celebrates its 25th year in Houston by hosting its annual tournament April 17–19.
“The players are really a second family to me,” says Brian Crumby, a Midtown resident who serves as the group’s president and a member of the board of the North American Gay Volleyball Association (NAGVA).
“I’ve gained rock-solid friendships,” says Crumby, who played traditionally male sports year-round as a youth. He started playing volleyball 10 years ago when he joined LSVA. “I Googled ‘gay volleyball in Houston,’” he says, explaining that annual membership in the league is $25 per player, plus a court fee of $60 for each fall and spring season. The league boasts 125 to 150 active members, he says.
Welcoming 50 to 60 teams from across the country will be the new Miss LSVA, who will be chosen in a drag pageant March 29 at South Beach. The winner will be crowned by reigning Miss LSVA, Lady Byrd, which is the “nom de drag” of Sam Byrd, the public relations manager for Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS). Byrd is a middle blocker on the court and a novice in drag. “I had never played volleyball, so when I started in 2006, I was terrible,” he says, explaining that LSVA fields three types of teams, from inexperienced (recreational) to competitive to the highest-ranking players in power volleyball.
“A guy came in to teach us how to pass the ball and set up a play,” Byrd recalls. “We would run drills and we got better just by meeting and playing.”
At 6’ 2½’’ and about 220 pounds, Byrd’s transformation into a drag diva required even more of a leap for the former gymnast and cheerleader at Bellaire High School and Houston Baptist University. “It took a lot of preparation,” he explains. “I had never really done drag. I did really, really bad drag—putting on a wig and some women’s clothes from Goodwill or something. But I had a lot of things working in my favor.
“My cheerleader friends mixed the music for me, and my friends who do drag bought the fabric and sewed my outfits,” he says. “Working for a musical theater organization, I have a flair for the dramatic, and when the cast of Peter Pan was here, I got them to give me a cup of fairy dust to sprinkle on stage. I used everything at my disposal.
“I had seen the Miss LSVA pageant before, and it always looked like a lot of fun,” says Byrd. (When Crumby won the title, for instance, his drag name was “Summer Clearance.”) “There are videos of Lady Byrd if you want to see it online.” Proceeds from the drag pageant benefit local charities.
Crumby says he travels to eight to ten NAGVA tournaments each season, which run each year from June 1 to May 31. The 2013–2014 season culminates with the NAGVA Championships XXXII tournament over Memorial Day weekend in Washington DC.
LSVA teams have practiced at various sports facilities through the years, but Byrd says he joined the league when it played at Willowbrook Sports Complex, 12539 Perry Road, which is where the 25th Lone Star Volleyball Classic, or LSVC XXV, will be held. Team registration will be held Thursday, April 17, during an event at JR’s Bar & Grille.
Competition on the next two days will be followed by an awards banquet dinner on Saturday, April 19, at the host hotel, Crowne Plaza Houston-River Oaks, 2712 Southwest Freeway. An after-party will be held at South Beach.
The Houston group hosts its annual Lone Star Volleyball Classic on Easter weekend because many out-of-town players like to attend Bunnies on the Bayou on Sunday, says Crumby.
Donalevan Maines also writes about The Wizard of Oz in this issue of OutSmart magazine.