There are only a handful of non-profits in Calgary’s gay community that are long storied. In 1981, four members of GIRC created an athletic social group and called it Apollo Friends in Sport. Volleyball was their inaugural sport. Apollo players issued a challenge to a similar group in Edmonton and the Western Cup was born.
Held every Easter weekend since, Western Cup is now 37 years old. In 2019, more than 1500 attendees and athletes will participate in sports tournaments of volleyball, bowling, curling, dodgeball, and hockey. The annual Western Cup Dance is a social calendar mainstay.
Recently, Apollo made a donation to the Calgary Gay History Project, and we gladly committed to working on preserving and collecting the history of this vital organization. Grassroots and volunteer-run since its inception, Apollo Friends in Sport is part of the connective tissue of Calgary’s contemporary LGBTQ2 community and was a harbinger of Pride in the city.
In 1995, I reported on Western Cup, for the inaugural issue of QC Magazine. I interviewed then Apollo President, Matthew Gillespie, and profiled some of the teams in competition. Winnipeg’s Golden Boys won the volleyball gold medal that year. (Calgary’s Fruit Loops came in third and occasionally showered spectators with their cereal namesake).
The Western Cup dance in 1995 was held at the Victoria Park Community Hall with approximately 400 in attendance. I wrote: “The dance had something for everyone and too much for some. With only six beers remaining at 1:30 the place cleared out and those who had the stamina to party further sloshed over to Boystown: Metro.”
Oh dear, I guess I am middle aged now too…