LGBTQ+ sports league thrives in Kentucky, growth surges through the South

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by Spencer Jenkins
Founder, Executive Director
spencer@queerkentucky.com

It is no secret that a lot of LGBTQ+ folks aren’t hyped to play sports in “traditional” straight spaces. It’s also no secret that a lot of us have trauma revolving around sports! For example, I talked on our most recent podcast about how my relationship with baseball caused much trauma in my life. How would I have felt about sports in my younger years had I had my fellow Queers around me? Maybe, I would’ve enjoyed sports a bit more.

Grant Cobb, Executive Commissioner of HotMess Sports, is changing the landscape of sports for LGBTQ+ people on a larger scale than just your elder gays’ softball league. He and his team have created multiple LGBTQ+ leagues around the region that cater a safer sports space to the Queer community and allies.

Odds are, you won’t have a sandlot moment of “YOU PLAY BALL LIKE A GIRL” when you’re surrounded by plenty of others that also don’t thrive in the sports world. However, don’t get me wrong, there are tons of very sports-minded and sports loving LGBTQ+ folks. Maybe they can teach the rest of us a thing or two.

What is HotMess Sports?

HotMess Sports is a sports league focused on bringing people together in the LGBTQ+ community! We strive to provide an inclusive and fun environment for everyone that wants to be involved. You can join with friends or join alone to make new friends, everyone is welcome! We offer a wide range of sports including kickball, volleyball, dodgeball, bowling, corn hole, flag football and more!

Where all in the US is it a thing?

HotMess Sports is currently located in Louisville, Cincinnati, Nashville, and Atlanta. We are also excited to be adding two more locations this fall in Lexington and Birmingham!

How did it start and how did you become a part of it? Who else is part of it?

It all started in 2012 with kickball in Nashville. Founder Derrick Lachney wanted to create an inclusive sports league for the Nashville LGBTQ+ community. He gathered some friends to play kickball and the word began to spread. The first season started with just 6 teams. Since then the league has expanded to include multiple cities with multiple sports year round. 

I got involved with HotMess Sports in 2016. New to Nashville after moving from Lexington and not knowing anyone, I joined as a free agent for volleyball. I was assigned to a team of other free agents who were all mostly new to the area and looking to meet people. I am still good friends with many of those teammates today.

The next season I signed up for kickball. Derrick Lachney (the founder of the league) asked me to play on his kickball team and we became good friends.

In 2017 my now boyfriend Jaron Byrum joined the HotMess Sports Volleyball league too. We began dating in 2018 and played on a volleyball team together that summer.

In 2019 Derick Lachney decided he needed to dedicate more time to a new business venture so my boyfriend Jaron Byrum and I starting running HotMess Sports from there.

Anyone and everyone can be a part! It doesn’t matter what your athletic ability is, we have all ages 21+ and all athletic abilities. If you are human you can play in HotMess Sports! While the vast majority of participants are LGBTQ+ we have friends, family, and allies that play too! 


What sports are played and why?

To date we have played kickball, volleyball, dodgeball, bowling, tennis, flag football, and corn hole. We plan to bring more sports in the future.

The whole purpose of HotMess Sports is to create a fun and inclusive community that brings people together. When deciding which sports to add we focus on sports that do exactly that.

Why do you think it’s important for a queer sports league?

We believe it is very important because it provides a space for the LGBTQ+ community to gather. It is a more welcoming environment than most other spaces and a place where everyone can feel a part.  

Are allies in these leagues too?

Yes! Everyone is welcome including allies! We have an entire straight family that has played on one team(father, mother, son, daughter) and another team that goes by the “Straight Hotties”.

What is the timeline of the season? Is it year round?

We have sports year round! Historically kickball has played in the spring and fall, beach volleyball in the summer, dodgeball and bowling in the winter. The other sports have been spread throughout the year. We do plan to mix things up in a way that brings more sports to more months throughout the year. 

How do you all acquire funding?

We have a lot of fantastic sponsors that support our leagues making everything we do possible. In addition to that, players pay for registration when signing up that helps cover costs.

What has been the reaction of having the league for the community?

Absolutely fantastic! We have had so many people meet new friends from playing in a HotMess Sports league. Everyone is excited for new sports and the league has grown in participants every season in Louisville!

What does the future hold for HotMess Sports?

We are extremely excited about the future of HotMess Sports. We are constantly working to bring HotMess Sports to new cities around the country and to bring new sports to the cities we are already in. In addition to that, we are working on a large tournament that will bring all HotMess Sports cities together for a weekend.

Where can people find more information?

You can find more information on our website:
HotMessSports.com

Instagram:
@HotMessSports
@HotMessSportsLouisville
@HotMessSportsLexington

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