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Julia DeSpain/Little Village

Rich Rumsey is an active guy. He likes to play volleyball, dodgeball and go biking. But when he joined Pride Sports League in 2019, it wasn’t for sports. It was for the community.

“It’s an organized way to find other people that are similar to yourself,” he said. “It’s a great way to meet people.”

Pride Sports League of Central Iowa is a Des Moines-based nonprofit founded in 2012 that provides a safe space for LGBTQ people to play sports competitively and recreationally.

“During our nights of play, like volleyball, we’ll go for three or four hours,” said Rumsey, the league’s treasurer. “You might play for 45 minutes or an hour, and then you can sit around outside, just getting to know your teammates.”

The league currently offers indoor volleyball and basketball, dodgeball, softball, kickball, sand volleyball, tennis, cycling and gym classes. They plan to organize more leagues and events based on membership levels and demand. But volleyball is the league’s most popular sport, and it’s offered year-round.

The organization took a hit following the COVID-19 pandemic, as did so many others. After a two-year hiatus, members were starved for sports. When the 2022 volleyball season began, the rosters were overflowing.

“We actually had so many players that we had to expand our volleyball season,” Rumsey said.

Outside of sports, the league sponsors Capital City Pride and Pride Fest. The group typically walks in the Pride parade, which has been Rumsey’s most memorable moment since joining the league.

“That receptivity that we got from the folks along the parade route was an amazing feeling!” Rumsey said.

The league also hosts the occasional barbecue in the park or similar social event for players and their loved ones. Visit Pride Sports League’s website and Facebook page for more information about upcoming leagues and events.

This article was originally published in Little Village’s June 2023 issue.