Tourney journey

Over 20 years, DIVA has turned its Fall Classic into a sports destination

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer lopez@dallasvoice.com

COURTING DIVA | For 20 years, DIVA has hosted the Fall Classic tournament which attracts teams from all over the country. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

DALLAS FALL CLASSIC XX
Texas Advantage Sports, 4302 Buckingham Rd., Fort Worth.
Oct. 8–10. DivaDallas.org.
……………………..

Dallas is a sports town: Cowboys, Mavericks, Stars, Rangers — they’re all part of the city’s life. That translates even into a strong gay sports community as well, with softball, tennis and rugby leagues holding strong interest for LGBT jocks.

But volleyball might be the most obsessive. The Dallas Independent Volleyball Association (DIVA) has not only grown internally over the years, but has expanded its Fall Classic tournament into a major event.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the popular tournament, which hosts teams from all over the country. But DIVA president and tournament director Hayden Mitchell says it’s just business as usual. “We’re not really doing anything different for this one,” he says.

But really, this is a good thing.

Over the years, DIVA has swelled into a sports organization of more than 300 members — that is about double its average membership from the last few years. With that many members in all divisions, Mitchell and the DIVA board take the obvious approach when setting up the tourney.

“From some of the feedback we’ve gotten from teams and NAGVA [North American Gay Volleyball Association], this is a well-run tournament,” he says. “With our kind of membership, we have to be and stay very organized. So we just translate that into the tournament.”

That has garnered DIVA’s fall tournament some major props by traveling teams. In the gay volleyball circuit, traveling teams spread the word that the Fall Classic is a key event, and it shows. This year, 41 teams will play; up to 50 teams have competed in other years. These are good numbers, says Mitchell.

“With the Columbus Day weekend, we usually do compete with the Portland or Indianapolis tourneys,” he says. “But people talk and teams ask where the competition is gonna be and then teams end up coming here.”

But “business as usual” doesn’t mean DIVA runs a bland ship. Over his six years as president, Mitchell has tried to put a personal stamp on the Fall Classic, not only to entice teams to come, but to build on its own identity.

“We have a buffet so traveling teams will get at least one meal and that means something,” he says. “Plus, we have a giveaway or T-shirt at each tournament. What I like to do is have the captains of the teams get me the sizes of the players, I think instead of just an oversize tee, that really adds a personal touch. I think the Dallas tournament has something special to offer.”

Getting the planning stages down to an art may be secondhand now, but that doesn’t mean it has become any less gratifying for the board. Mitchell says that pride in the event comes from two sources. And that makes this all worthwhile.

“We’ve increased the number of teams coming to Dallas,” he says. “What really stood out for me were two teams from Hawaii that came out to play. They were blown away by the fact that we all played in same facility. And they even want to do a tourney of their own.”

On the other end, Mitchell and the rest of DIVA do their part to give to the LGBT community. According to NAGVA rules on tournaments, a large portion of monies earned from the event has to go to a charity. That has given DIVA the opportunity to contribute thousands to local nonprofits such as Youth First Texas, Resource Center of Dallas and this year, the AIDS Interfaith Network.

“That is the one big thing with the Fall Classic,” he says. “ We do a lot of research on the different LGBT associations we select. We’ve been giving back to the community for 20 years and that is the most rewarding thing.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 8, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Cazwell brings his ‘Ice Cream Truck’ to Station 4

Cazwell is serious about his music … even if he is a club diva

CazwellIn this week’s issue, Cazwell talked with the Dallas Voice about his approach to music. Just because he’s all about beefcake and sexy, funny lyrics doesn’t mean you should take him less seriously as a musician. He’ll tell you why.

The last time we saw Cazwell in town was at the now-defunct minc in Exposition Park. Then he was first touted as the gay Eminem, but he’s really in his own league layering outrageous raps over dance music. He’s more fun than Eminem with songs like “I Seen Beyonce at Burger King” and “All Over Your Face” from his 2009 album Watch My Mouth. The rapper-singer’s newest hit, “Ice Cream Truck,” is big on the dance floor which I’m sure has nothing to do with the video.

He performs an 18-and-up show at S4 on Sept. 30 at midnight. After his performance, he’s gonna stick around for a Meet and Greet. Maybe he’ll have a Bomb Pop just for you.

DEETS: Station 4, 3911 Cedar Springs Road. Sept. 30 at midnight. Doors at 9 p.m. $15. Caven.com.

—  Rich Lopez

VOP winners shine in Manchester

Arizpe, Carrizales wow crowd with performance on final day of 10-day Pride celebration in England

Ed Walsh  |  Special Contributor edwalsh94105@yahoo.com

Mel Arizpe and Laura Carrizales
TALENT ABROAD | Mel Arizpe, right, winner of the 2010 Voice of Pride competition, sings a duet with her partner — and VOP first runner-up — Laura Carrizales during their appearance at the Manchester Pride celebration on Monday, Aug. 30. (Photo courtesy MRNY.com)

MANCHESTER,  England — A couple from Dallas brought a bit of Texas to England this week and stole the show on the final day of Manchester Pride 2010, the city’s 10-day Pride celebration.
Mel Arizpe and Laura Carrizales were the winners of Dallas’s Voice of Pride, an annual contest sponsored by the Dallas Tavern Guild. Arizpe came in first place, winning a trip for two to Manchester and $3,000.

As luck would have it, Arizipe’s girlfriend, Laura Carrizales, won second place in the contest.

So naturally, Arizipe took Carrizales for the trip to the UK.

The couple, performing as “La Diva Loca,” also won the Voice of Pride’s duo category.

All those talents were put to good use at Manchester Pride 2010 on Monday, Aug. 30. The couple took to the stage at 2:40 p.m. and performed for a short 10 minutes — but they enthralled the crowd for each second.

Arizpe took to the stage first. “All the way from Dallas, we’ve come to sing to you all,” she told the British crowd in a Texas twang before launching into the  Whitney Houston hit “I’m Every Woman.”
The Brits roared their approval.

Carrizales joined Arizpe next on stage for their duet medley of four different songs: The Fugees “Ready or Not,” followed by En Vogue’s single “Never Gonna Get it,” and two different versions of Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” — first the fast dance version, then the slower “Glee” version.

The Dallas couple made sure that their abbreviated version of “Poker Face” included the line, “I wanna hold ’em like they do in TEXAS please,” with a strong emphasis on “Texas.”

And the crowd was thrilled with the Gaga tribute, many dancing and singing along.

The medley, put together by their friend Danny Anchondo, was the same duet performance that helped them win the Voice of Pride group category.

Said Arizpe after the show, “I was happy they were responding. I think they really enjoyed the duet.”

Carrizales said they were concerned about the sound system, but in the end, she noted, it sounded great.

Mel Arizpe and Laura Carrizales
AFTERMATH | Laura Carrizales, left, and Mel Arizpe relax after performing onstage at Manchester Pride. (Ed Walsh/Special to Dallas Voice)

Arizpe and Carrizales appeared confident and relaxed on stage. They said that it helped that they were performing for strangers who they would never have to face again if they gave a bad performance. “It was a comfort that we didn’t know anybody,” said Carrizales.

The couple also said they were impressed by the scope of Manchester Pride: “It’s 10 times the size of Dallas,” said Carrizales. “They block off a whole section of the city [in Manchester].”

Added Arizpe, “We get a good turnout in Dallas but nothing like this.”

The idea to award Dallas’s Voice of Pride winner with a trip to Manchester was hatched by Andrew Stokes, who is both the chairman of Manchester Pride and the chief executive of the city’s official tourism office.

Stokes came up with the idea after visiting Dallas and visiting with his friend George Carrancho, who is part of American Airlines LGBT-dedicated “rainbow” sales team. Stokes watched part of the Voice of Pride competition while he was in town.

“I thought what a great thing it would be to bring the winner to Manchester,” Stokes said.

He worked out the trip with Carrancho and American Airlines, who helped sponsor the trip. Stokes and Carrancho introduced Arizpe and Carrizales before the couple’s performance.

So what’s it like for a couple of Texans in England?

Carrizales and Arizipe said they were welcomed warmly by the English and were given the VIP treatment during the four days they were in town. They were surprised that they were asked to march at the start of the parade, right behind the grand marshal, actor Sir Ian McKellan. That was an impressive honor considering that there were 101 contingents in the parade.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 3, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

LSR Journal: Riding to meet the challenge, personal and charitable

Stacy McKinney Team Dallas Voice

Stacy McKinney
Stacy McKinney

Last January I started running, and I really enjoyed it. So for my 40th birthday, I decided to challenge myself and train for a half marathon. Within a few months of training with the Dallas Running Club, I ran the Heels and Hills and Him Half Marathon.

But since I wasn’t finished challenging myself, I decided to set myself the new goal of running a marathon. In December 2009, I completed the White Rock Marathon. It was an amazing experience.

But after completing my first marathon, I was looking for a way to change up my work out and do something different. So, I bought a bike and completed a duathlon.

Even though it was difficult, I fell in love with the bike. I decided right then and there to challenge myself to do even more. A few months later, a group of friends talked me into riding the MS150.

Riding for a cause gave me so much motivation.

A few months after that, I completed my first Sprint Distance Triathlon. Recently I joined Go3Sports Triathlon Team and have four more races coming up this year.

Normally, I ride three days per week, run several times a week, and swim daily. As you can see, I am a very active person who loves to challenge herself.

What you should also know about me is that I not only love participating in these sports and races, I love coming up with costumes for my races. It is all about having fun.

For years, I have played volleyball with DIVA, the Dallas Independent Volleyball Association, and participated in DIVA’s fundraising efforts for AIDS organizations. And it was friend I play volleyball with that told me about the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS.

He told me that when he rode in 2009, he had such a great experience and met lots of new friends. When I heard this, I got really excited because I love to meet new people and make friends.

So, I was like, “Sign me up!”

I joined Team Dallas Voice and started telling everyone about the ride. I actually convinced a few friends to join me. We just started training, but I have loved every moment of it so far.

What I’ve learned over this past year is that you can push your body to the limit as long as you stay focused and positive. I have a great support system with my husband, daughter and many, many friends, and they are the ones helping me stay focused and positive.

I am very passionate about riding with Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS this year. Several of my friends are HIV-positive, and if I can raise money to help them just by riding 150 miles on my bike, then I am so happy to do it!

I am so excited to be a part of the ride this year and can’t wait to make tons of new friends and make a difference for people with HIV/AIDS.

You can make new friends and make a difference at the same time, too. Sign up to ride or crew, or make a donation to someone who is riding or crewing. It will take all of us working together to meet this challenge.

Stacy McKinney is a member of Team Dallas Voice. You can contribute to her or to any other Lone Star Ride participant online at LoneStarRide.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 30, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

On the Border hosts fundraiser for DIVA today

The Dallas Independent Volleyball Association is hoping you have a craving for Tex-Mex tonight. The organization and On the Border (this location) team up to support the sports group as it begins its new Spring season. For today only, 15% of  food and beverage purchases will be donated to DIVA. The event is welcome to all, however, they did not seem to list a time for any specific gathering of DIVAs. Just print out this flyer to be sure and get your discount.

—  Rich Lopez

Early registration underway for DIVA's spring season; Weir makes Olympic team

The Dallas Independent Volleyball Association (DIVA) has begun early registration for the upcoming season. However, you have just four days left to get the discounted membership fee. Download the registration form and get it back to DIVA peeps by Friday, Jan. 22. The discounted rate for early registration is $110. Regular enrollment ends Feb. 5 and that’s $120.

They’ve also posted their New Member clinics. The first two start next week on Tuesday and Thursday both at 7 p.m. at the Arlington Park Rec Center.

Now you know the deal so get those knee pads ready.

In other sports news that doesn’t involve the Cowboys (sigh), the U.S. National Figure Skating Championships were held over the weekend. Jeremy Abbott took his second national title yesterday but three-time U.S. champion Johnny Weir pulled in a bronze-medal performance giving him a spot on the men’s team heading to Vancouver. Catch the short program below from Friday night. Or, if you prefer, there’s always his more contemporary skating to Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face.”

—  Rich Lopez