This is not a drill.

As those of you who are in, or compete in, the Southern California area know; I volunteer at a lot of different competitions.

I do this for a lot of reasons:
1) I like to get a chance to see the local kids skate throughout the year.
2) I enjoy my friendships with the moms and officials and like to get a chance to see everyone and catch up.
3) I like to see how other clubs run their competitions to see what we could do better at ours. Or just to share tips with everyone.
4)I like to get the people who I helped all year to help me at my competition.

Before you (the competitors) arrive at the door; here is a small list of what has already happened:

Sometimes I feel as if it is not clear to those who haven’t been on the “inside” of making a competition happen just how much has to happen:

The club starts the year by coordinating its competition date with all the other clubs in the area, avoiding holidays, official’s schools, big summer competitions and any other conflicting event. They select a referee and chief accountant that are available for their date. Then they created the announcement, submit it to USFS, and get a sanction. They will also have reserved and paid for the ice they think they will need, and set the prices to try to cover that cost (around $350-$425 per hour).

We have Entryeeze create the competition site. Decide when entries will close. Build events that are new or different than the prior year. Update all the contact info and make sure the bank connection is working.

Invite the judges and tech panel people you want to use. This is a lot of back and forth e-mailing to see who is available on what days. See who needs hotel rooms. Book a block of hotel rooms, hopefully at a discount, as this is where a lot of revunue vanishes . Arrange air travel if any need it.

Find somone to run hospitality. They have to order all the food for the judges and coaches, get all the warming trays and supplies organized and solicit donations from people and restaurants to keep the budget down.

While the competition is open for entries, the registrar keeps track of the entries, help people who make errors when entering, answer questions about the schedule, practice ice and any other thing that comes up. The referee is the final decision maker on a lot of the technical things that might come up (combining levels, what time things will run, etc…)

We order suppplies to make the goody bags – or one nice gift. We get gifts for the judges. We make sure the accountants have paper and toner cartrodges. We harass everyone to volunteer on the day of the competition and create the volunteer sign up. We check to make sure the coaches are all “certified”. We make badges for everyone. We order trophies or medals and ribbons. And lord help the clubs who also are doing programs. That is a whole other full time job. Selling ads. Collecting photos. Getting the schedule info.

The referee makes the event schedule and schedules the judges and officials into it. That schedule with the officials is called the “104” and is critical to keeping people in the right place during the competition. It is supposed to match the schedule on Entryeeze. But the Entryeeze schedule is created by hand off of the 104. So – there are times those will difffer. The 104 always wins.

The night before the competition we are all there – Registrar, Hospitality, Music Guy, Accounting Team, Competition Chair, Charlie. Setting up the hospitality rooms. Setting up the accounting room and equipment. Setting up the judging system, the sound system, the video equipment, the vendor booths, results board, start order post area, locker rooms.

The first AM of the competition; all the same people who were there the night before arrive at 6 or 7 or 8 and start practice ice and any final set up. Judges, officials and the announcers arrive in time for breakfast to be served and the competition is off and running.

It is a long journey involving a LOT of people just to get to the day of competition. If there are not volunteers to help us during the competition; we are sunk; because we are already wiped out from the set up. And we know that the tear down is looming at the end of the event.

And though I am sure you all know this already. NONE of the people involved in this process get any money for this. Judges and officials get reimbursed milage/expenses. Some members of the LOC (Local Organizing Committee – also can be called the Host Club) will get hotel rooms if the event is far from their home. That’s it.

So. When we say this is a volunteer run organization – we really mean it. Most clubs are more than happy to get a volunteer who wants to start to learn some of these tasks so they can be spread around between more people. So – don’t be shy!!! If you are volunteering and want to know how something works – just ask. All of us love skating and talking about it – so if we haven’t already passed out from exhaustion; we will be happy to talk!!! While we watch you work……

And be kind. If we are charging admission, you can be sure that info was in the announcement. We don’t surprise people with that and we warn the competitors. So, if you didn’t know – it is not the fault of the mom collecting money and handing out arm bands. And do read the announcement. So many unpleasant confrontations and crying skaters could be avoided by doing this. Usually there is a copy at the registration desk – so if your wi-fi is not cooperating; ask to see it before you “go off” about us not doing something correctly. Individual clubs have lattitude in these competitions. Just because one club does it one way; doesn’t mean another will. Or that the same club will do it this year the same way they did it last year.

And coaches. You know the deal. If you are not compliant: Just. fix it. Bring your papers if there is a delay in updating the reports. Don’t try to play us.We deserve more respect than that.

We can be very nice and helpful and lovely if we are approached politely. When we are not. Well….. You know the old cranky people that you run into and wonder why they are so crabby and just say “NO” to everything??? You don’t want to create any more of those. So. Polite approach it is!!!!!

See you at the next rink!!!!

2 thoughts on “This is not a drill.

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