HotMess Sports is a “gay/gay friendly” sports league in Nashville. This popular and expanding league provides opportunities to enjoy athletics and community, centered on some of our favorite childhood sports—kickball, dodgeball, and volleyball.
League founder Derrick Lachney started playing kickball in Washington, DC: “I heard of this new gay/gay friendly kickball league called Stonewall Kickball. I joined as a captain and started my own team, the HotMess Kickers,” he told O&AN a few years ago. The result was somewhat unexpected.
Thanks to kickball, he added, “My circle of friends grew greatly and I finally felt like I was part of this very large community in our nation’s capital.”
So when a business opportunity offered him the chance to return to his hometown of Nashville, he hoped to replicate that experience. “Back in the summer of 2012, HotMess Kickball was just an idea I had for this city that I grew up in,” reflected. “In the beginning, all I was thinking about was getting it off the ground. I really wasn't thinking about anything long term,” he replied. “My friends and I wanted to play kickball in an environment where we felt comfortable being ourselves, and I was just hoping there were others out there that wanted the same thing—enough to make a league. Turns out there were.”
“It wasn't long after that, though, that I noticed its potential and its power to bring people together,” he added. “My thinking quickly changed to making it bigger, better, and to reaching more people! For me HotMess is my child. It's a lot of work, it's needy, it gets in trouble sometimes, and it’s making me go grey. But I've never been so proud of something or excited to talk about something as much as I am about HotMess and every one of its members.”
Five years later, the league has grown and expanded to include other sports—including dodgeball and volleyball. “It's been five years and not only are we still going, we still continue to grow EVERY SEASON,” he added. “HotMess has so many members that keep coming back every season, and that's the biggest compliment to me and the league. But on top of that, current members are out there telling their friends, coworkers, and new Nashvillians about HotMess, and that's how we continue to grow. It's word of mouth! And as a hairstylist who has built a career on that same concept, there's no better advertisement.”
Lachney, from his experience in D.C., came in with some social expectations around participation in the league he was creating, but that too has exceeded what he thought possible.
“Even though I knew the league would be a great way to meet new people, because that's what it did for me while in D.C., I never imagined I'd have the relationship I have with some of the members,” he said, “especially the captains. A lot of them come back every season, leading their teams, and it's not an easy job. They deal with me directly, and season after season it brings us closer together.”
More unexpected socially was the way the sports league would bring together Nashville’s LGBT community and its straight allies socially. “We have many straight male and female members who are part of our HotMess family,” he said. “They even bring their real families to the games. I see kids and parents of players every Sunday.”
HotMess isn’t the only athletic outlet for Nashville’s LGBT community, and part of growing HotMess has been cooperating with other organizations. “I'm proud of the relationship HotMess has formed with The Nashville Grizzlies,” Lachney said. “It's awesome that two separate sports organizations can both coexist and support each other the way we have been able to do so. I credit Sammy Hann, Tavarus Taylor, and Brett Potter for that….”
HotMess has enjoyed incredible success, but that is not to say that every venture has gone the way Lachney had planned. For instance, he tried for several years to expand to other cities, which has so far been unsuccessful, but he’s changing directions and hopes to make some headway.
“Back in 2014, I tried Louisville,” Lachney explained, “but never got the response I needed to get things started. Even with the help of Play, I really needed someone from there to kind of take the reins and go. I'm currently working to bring HotMess to Memphis. We'll see what 2018 has in store!”
And of course, with HotMess, there’s always potential. Teams from the league “have been attending two national tournaments each year since 2014,” Lachney added. “Sin City Shoot Out in Vegas and the Stonewall Sports tournament in D.C. I keep getting asked when the HotMess Sports tournament will be. Like I said, let's see what 2018 has in store!”
Going forward, the league will continue to enjoy the support of community and business organizations that have helped it thrive. “I'm VERY proud to now have Play, Tribe, Lipstick Lounge, The Stirrup, and Canvas all on board as HotMess Sponsors. We also brought on BudLight a couple years ago,” Lachney said. “And HotMess has over 500 members within the league— over 400 in Kickball alone.”
Those hundreds of members give HotMess a visible footprint in the community. “Every Sunday during a kickball season,” Lachney admits, “I'm still shocked to see the ‘rainbow’ of HotMess t-shirt colors take over East Nashville!”
That visibility and manpower has allowed the organization to pay it forward and support the community that has helped it grow. “HotMess has been doing two charity drag shows a year since we started five ago, as well as a PostParty every Valentine’s Day,” Lachney said. “In the past five years, we have raised over $50,000 for HRC and local charities such as Nashville CARES, Out Central, Second Harvest, and Launch Pad.”
“I hope that the past five years are a reflection of what's to come in the next five,” Lachney concluded, reflecting on the experience. “ Whether I'm still running the show or not, I can't imagine this awesome city and our growing community without it. HotMess is a part of Nashville, and I'm glad I had a part in that.”
For more information about HotMess Sports, visit hotmesssports.com, or follow them on Facebook.