Sunday, April 1, 2012

Keystone Classic De-Brief

Thank you to everyone who followed our event from home this weekend.  We had quite an epic day and we wanted to give our fans and followers a quick rundown of some of the events of the weekend.

- Last weekend, another ultimate event was hosted at Classics Soccer Park.  The Field Owner and Manager were out of town and did not keep an eye on the damage being done to the fields at the event.  I knew that an event was being hosted at the park, but was hosting Women's College Centex in Austin and was not paying close attention to the conditions in Manheim.  I accept full responsibility for that-- had I paid more attention to the weather, I would certainly have asked the Field Manager about possible damage.

- In my pre-event conversations with the Field Manager last week, I was given ZERO notice about any damage or about the "fragile" condition of the fields.  No mention was made about the possibility of us being kicked off the fields or any concerns about wear and tear.  Having hosted multiple events at these fields before, looking at the forecast, I did not feel that we had any reason to worry.

- On Saturday morning, the Field Manager asked me to keep players on the perimeter of the soccer fields as much as possible (referring specifically to sideline traffic).  I announced this at the captains' meeting.

- On Saturday afternoon, the Field Manager texted me to check in on the condition of the fields and I reported that they were in very good condition and that there were 1-2 "problem areas"-- areas that were clearly worn, but that would not have posed a problem at any other field site.

- On Saturday evening, the Field Manager informed me that we could not use the fields on Sunday due to the damage from last weekend's event.  I was completely blindsided by this as the fields were in very good condition.  The Manager agreed that weather was a non-issue (the weather had not been bad and the forecast looked clear for the remainder of the weekend).  I spent over an hour talking with the Field Manager and Field Owner and made a number of offers to attempt to secure the fields for Sunday, including offering to pay an extra $5000 in seed money to go toward re-seeding the fields-- my primary goal was to secure fields for teams to play on, no matter the cost.

- When it became apparent that no offer would be accepted, my team of organizers and I called as many local contacts as we could come up with including the Penn State Club Sports Director, PADA board members, and a number of local organizers.

Never in my dozens of events of organizing have I ever canceled a day of play.  And that streak lives to see another day.  I know that cancelation due to weather is inevitable in this line of work.  However, I also believe in doing things the right way and in never resting until all leads have been run down and until all possible solutions have been explored.  I want to be able to look my friends in the eye and tell them that I have done everything within my power to help them.

When I emailed and called teams last night to let them know that our fields had been pulled, I felt 99% sure that games would not be played today because all of our leads were falling through.  After I wrote that email, I continued to run down other leads with the help of Carly Maconaghy.  Several players came though in big ways- Kelly McGeehan (Franklin & Marshall), Anna Levine (Swarthmore), and Julie Singer (Haverford).  Games today would not have happened without them.

The wee hours of the morning involved creating a new game schedule for today and walking out fields to ensure that we could guarantee every team a minimum of two games.  Carly, Nichole Smith, Tracy Custis, Jana Barmasse, and Beth Holzhauer faithfully assisted with the entire process.  A huge thanks goes out to them.

The sense of community and the amount of trust and respect in our meeting with teams this morning floored me.   It was important to me to handle this situation the right way, and in addition to de-briefing teams on the situation, we also offered them a partial refund.  The fact that we were able to play games with our fields getting pulled 12 hours before game time on Sunday with zero advance notice is easily one of the bigger miracles we've managed to pull off over the course of the past six years.

This tournament continues to present extreme challenges year after year, and some self-evaluation is certainly in order.  We'll leave you with this humorous bit in the midst of our crisis solving last night:

Michelle: Am I doing something wrong to make these things happen?  Or I am just the unluckiest person in the world?
Carly: You're just the unluckiest person in the world.

What a friend.  :)  We'll post some thoughts on the Without Limits spring season soon.  First, time to recover a bit from the weekend.  Thanks for your interest in our work-- we are deeply appreciative of your support!

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