Thursday, April 7, 2011

2011 State Singles at the DAC - Report by Keith Thode

This was the finest MHA tournament in many ways in many years - maybe ever. It was certainly the best organized. To that, we owe Rick Leonard. This was our first chance to observe Rick Leonard's organizational skills applied to one of our handball tournaments.

I have organized and run state tournaments, assisted with many others, and attended many national tournaments, working closely and rooming with the Executive Director of the USHA. I have somewhat of an understanding of what it takes to run a tournament from start to finish. While the national and world tournaments require more work due to the larger scale, a state tournament director, dedicated to the task, still has an obligation to the tournament overall as well as to each individual player. Anyone who has ever run a tournament just had a chuckle at the last sentence, for it is impossible to please everyone. The best one can hope is to please the majority and to not anger anyone more than necessary.

After the entries were collected, Rick and I began our phone conversations regarding the draw and the seeding. My initial concern, before we started, as it would be with anyone who hasn't run one of our tournaments before, was whether he was up to the task. While we all know what a fine player and person Rick is, I had no idea the lengths he, or anyone else for that matter, could go to achieve the goal of a great tournament.

Rick took my ideas, combined them with his ideas, added some of his own, and then proceeded to treat the task as if it were his life's work. I know more than anyone else what he endured, because of our many phone conservations throughout the entire process. Rick went above and beyond what I consider prudent to maintain sanity. I suspect at some point, he may have actually have been bleeding from the eyes.

In most tournaments, there is one or more players with requests for special considerations, such as time constraints, travel distance, desire to not play certain opponents in the first round, etc. Most times, a request or two can be accommodated. In this case, there were many requests - much more than usual. Rick took every one of those requests into consideration and accommodated all of them. I'm not sure that any other tournament director, including myself, would, or could, figure all those requests into the final product.

I'm glad that I was there to assist Rick, and to witness, close-up, what he achieved and how he achieved it. This tournament would not have been the absolute pleasure that it was without him.

Then there was Rob Barr, who not only entered the tournament and played well, but had other concurrent pressing duties as the DAC Athletic Director. Even when he wasn't present at the courts, he was immediately available in the building for whatever we might need. Indeed, when I arrived at 8:30am Sunday morning, one half hour before the matches were scheduled, there was Rob dust mopping the floors of the courts. I'm sure that this is not in his job description.

The beautiful boards used for the draw sheets mounted on the wall, were the work of Rob Barr. Quite frankly, I find this sort of treatment rather embarrassing. We're not used to this kind of treatment. After all, we're just handball players.

Then there was the food and drink. Again, embarrassing. I think that Rick and Rob were just trying to make us, and all of our previous tournaments look bad. It may not be universally known, but it was also no secret that Rick also helped to fund this tournament financially - in a big, and again embarrassing, way.

I'm probably missing some other issues and people deserving of accolades. This was a tournament that will be remembered as though it was something more than just a state tournament.

Thank you Rick, Robb and the DAC for spoiling us rotten.

Keith Thode

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