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by Jessica Carreras
Mike Odom is an account supervisor at Marx Layne, and has been the co-director of the Motown Invitation Classic for four years, which brings over 200 LGBT and allied bowlers to the tournament each year. Odom will be co-directing his last MIC tournament in October.
1) How did you first get involved with LGBT bowling leagues?
A friend encouraged me to join the local LGBT league back in the early ’90s after learning I was an avid bowler. At that time, the Detroit-based league was the largest bowling league in the world – gay or straight – with more than 400 bowlers. It was called Betterment of The Individual and was held at State Fair Lanes.
After several years, BTI ultimately separated into smaller leagues throughout metro Detroit, which is what we have today.
2) Why do you enjoy being involved in the Motown Invitational Classic?
It is truly a privilege to be a part of an organization that has a 25-year history of promoting LGBT bowling and the spirit of friendly competition in southeast Michigan. Each year, the MIC hosts on average 200-plus bowlers from Michigan, the U.S. and Canada. We are a welcoming committee on behalf of our community and we are proud to roll out the red carpet for local and out-of-town visitors alike.
Year after year, the MIC committee works very hard to raise the necessary funds to cover the cost of hosting one our region’s best LGBT competitive events. Whether we are coordinating a bar crawl, boat cruise or bar of the week, I am always humbled by the wonderful group of dedicated committee members that help make MIC possible. They are a major part of the reason why I have been involved for so long.
3) What’s coming up in the world of gay bowling?
Most LGBT bowling leagues have already started or are scheduled to begin soon. Metro Detroit is home to five LGBT bowling leagues: BTI Sunday Mixed, Westside Sunday Mixed, Metro Detroit Friday Night Mixed, Wednesday Pride and The Rainbow League.
The 25th MIC tournament is scheduled to take place Oct. 8-10. Whether you want to stop by Thunderbowl Lanes to watch the competition or swing by MotorCity Casino Hotel to check out the party at our host hotel, we welcome you to join in the fun.
From the national perspective, the International Gay Bowling Organization’s 30th Mid-Year Tournament will take place Nov. 10-15 in Washington, D.C. Next year, bowlers will compete in the “World Series” of gay bowling at the IGBO Annual XXXI May 25-30, which will be hosted in Toronto.
4) What positive element do you think MIC and the affiliated leagues bring to the gay community?
MIC and the local LGBT leagues have created a tremendous opportunity for people to meet and develop long lasting friendships. Over the years, I have made many friends with people from all walks of life.
The gay leagues also have given us a great sense of pride. We have marched together in AIDS walks, supported numerous nonprofits with donations of food, blankets, our personal time and finances, rallied around friends who have been attacked in the streets for being gay, and have supported others who are fighting cancer and are struggling to survive. We have been there for each other when times are tough and when times are great, like one big family.
5) This will be your last year as co-director of MIC. What are your “parting words”?
These past four years have truly been a rewarding experience. Although it has been challenging at times, in the end it is always worth it.
To the new MIC co-directors: Allow the opportunity for fresh ideas and news ways of thinking to encompass everything that you do, whether it is through fundraising, building relationships in the community or interacting with your fellow committee members. A good leader is one that listens to every suggestion carefully and presents opportunities for people to be included in the decision making process.
To tournament sponsors and community supporters: Thank you for your generous support of the MIC tournament. You have helped us become one of the best LGBT bowling tournaments in our region.
To my family: Thank you for your patience. Yes, NOW we can spend more time together.
Visit http://www.mictournament.org for information about joining a local league.