This article is a sponsored collaboration between FILA and PAPER
The PAPER Volleyball Club, at least between me and you, has nothing to do with sports at all. Or your ability to engage with anything fitness-related, really. If you happen to get the ball over the net, great! If you only look good posing with the ball... and never manage to bump pass, decoy, cut shot or spike (I'm literally Googling "Volleyball Terms," right now), that's great too!
Because our Volleyball Club requires no tryouts or any practices. We might have games if we're bored, for sure, but definitely no clear winners or losers here. And absolutely no opponents. There are zero rules, only opportunities, and, at its core, a dedication to the community of weirdos, free thinkers and LGBTQ+ dreamers that find their way onto our courts. (Unfortunately, you might get a little sweaty).
For Pride 2021, PAPER teamed up with FILA to create a uniform — available now — for our not-so-serious Volleyball Club, featuring a tee, zip-up hoodie, short shorts and sneakers all customized with our official bunny mascot... that has no real meaning other than the fact that we thought it was really cute. We think you will, too.
"We are without a doubt stronger together," says Seth Williams (All Pronouns), an honorary player in the PAPER Volleyball Club. "Coalescing to support one another as a community is incredibly important, especially in our group specifically, because so many of us are misunderstood and mistreated by our natal families. Our community is an extended family to me, which has helped me more than I can describe in my journey to better understand myself."
For Neil Shibata (He/Him), this strong sense of teamwork in the LGBTQ community has allowed him "to learn alongside the people that best support" him. "These people provide spaces in which I can express myself freely," he says, while fellow PAPER Volleyball Club player Diya Dabash (All Pronouns) underscores the importance of community for "impressionable queer people" and those still in quarantine "who unfortunately don't have the support they deserve."
As the queer community grows stronger, the people within it do too, according to the Volleyball Club's own Chloé Pultar (She/Her). "Having that space of understanding creates more conversations and connections," she says. "We can all help each other. Finding the LGBTQ+ community online helped me uncover and accepts parts of myself I didn't know, and I think that's true for a lot of young people."
As part of their involvement in creation of PAPER Volleyball Club, FILA has donated to every team member's charity of choice for Pride: Seth, Neil and Diya all aligned with The Trevor Project, while Chloe contributed to The Transgender District SF.
The PAPER x FILA Volleyball Club collection for Pride is available now on www.fila.com. Get your safety pins, hair gel and spiked collars ready — oh, and maybe an actual volleyball... but only if you want.