Monday, May 21, 2018

My Experience Helping at ACS Nationals

I thought I'd share my experience when I helped out at ACS Nationals in mid May.  How does it compare to running a Tour?  What are the differences?  Similarities?

Well, the main difference is this is only once a year, compared to the Omega Tour I ran for six years, which became monthly.

The other differences are obvious, too:  more days (8 days compared to 2), more players (100 versus 1500), more tables (over 100 versus 12) and players from ALL over the US and also Canada (not just Texas and surrounding states).  The location is the same ever year, while the Omega Tour traveled to dif spots every month.

The similarities were normal, usual suspects as well:  higher players kept their spot in the winner's circle, players complained about handicaps, players who lost vented to the tournament directors, all levels of players had a great time competing at the game they love, etc.

My friend Janet asked me to help this year and the first long day I was WORN out. I ensured to just get more sleep every single night the rest of the week. Her and I were a great team. We bantered in front of the players, we were great roomies, and we got to spend quality time going to a couple of shows and eating together.

The main difference for me personally was I didn't run the tournament, like I did at the Omega Tour.  Instead, I helped at the registration desk for ACS Nationals.  I checked players in, passed out checks, answered related or unrelated questions about everything from where the parking lot is to what table are the mini tournaments on.  I helped with making team changes, answered rule questions, helped recover several lost cell phones, took photos of the winners with their trophies, etc.  We kinda are the go-to people here.  But, I didn't make any major decisions about players, didn't work on the payouts, didn't even work on the brackets at all.  I guess I was mostly Admin, BUT... the face of ACS Nationals all week.

Because I was not dealing with high-stress issues, I was able to concentrate more on being super friendly to the players.  I was smiling a lot, joking, making them laugh, telling them silly things, asking them questions to keep them engaged, etc.  Janet said after the first long day, "Thank you for being so bubbly."  Awwww.  And then on Thursday, two players went out of their way to thank me for how I handled situations / questions / players always with a smile.  It really meant a lot to me! 

One said specifically, "You take it as it comes, no matter what it is... you handle it well and with a smile!"

The feedback really meant a lot to me.

For some reason, this atmosphere allowed me to really let my personality out.  I truly feel being the face of ACS Nationals (ie, the first people the players see when they come to the convention area), is important not just for ACS, but more so for the players to have a great time with a welcoming attitude.  

And for some reason I really turned up my personality and was more bubbly and happier than usual.  I again, think it's because I was helping with the admin part and focusing on the players happiness, and not dealing with the many stressful parts that can come with running a tournament and interfere with trying to be bubbly.  John Lewis was the one who handled most of the complaints and issues.  He's the Executive Director of ACS.  And Gary Benson was the Tournament Director.  So, I was able to get paperwork things done while interacting with the players, and focus on THEM.

I am very good at compartmentalizing.  I lost one of my best friends to brain cancer literally days before I flew to Vegas to help out.  I had been with him in hospice for a week and a half.  So in Vegas I was a mess at times.  At night and in the mornings I was in tears, or sleeping a lot because I was grieving, but during the day I pushed that aside completely so I could be the welcoming face and smile for all the players.  I think the trip to Vegas was perfect timing to help with the major loss losing my friend Dave Faver.

I still need to figure out what to do now that I am back home and not around people, but helping at ACS was a blessing for me, as well.  Want to thank Janet for the awesome opportunity and invite!

Here I am trying to be funny:


David Lake said...

Sounds like a good time. Glad your personality had a chance to shine through. Everyone can't be a winner so it's always nice to pick up other positives from tournaments.

Janet Ybarra said...

It was such an honor to have you at our desk helping ACS out!! I absolutely loved all the time we got to spend together and you being there for me and the staff. There was no doubt in my mind that you couldn't handle it.... I knew that you would and then some. Love you bunches! <3