It’s a beautiful day outside and I’m sitting next to a sunny window making checklists for my first tournament of the season. I really want to keep a better account of my journey this year, because it’s an important part of the process for me and I need something to look back on when I wind down at the end of each season. So here we go!

I applied to Clover Cup ,hosted by the Dallas Derby Devils, back in the winter, when I was still a little uncertain about reffing without a league to practice with locally. I had also applied to Dust Devil and, at the time, knew I would likely apply to two events in Phoenix as well. I was focusing on events I could drive to at that point in my season planning stage. Dust Devil was close, a ten hour drive, and the tournament head ref was someone I’d had a really good experience with at Monsoon Madness last year as a crew mate. However, when Clover Cup announced that the tournament head for their event was a female official I had also worked with and feel has offered me solid mentoring in the past, I decided I would apply to it as well.

The two tournaments butt either end of my local school district’s spring break and I knew I would have to pick one. Within a few days (it felt really short, maybe a week?) I had an acceptance from Clover Cup and I immediately withdrew my application from Dust Devil knowing I couldn’t afford to go to both and not wanting to eat my family’s entire break with derby.  This is really important if you are a new official this season: it is okay to apply to more tournaments than you think you can attend, in my opinion, but please, communicate clearly to the tournament heads as quickly as possible that you won’t be able to make something as soon as you know. I caught the DD officials before staffing assignments had started to go out.  I may choose to do DD next year if the opportunity arises, I haven’t been yet and I’ve heard good things about it.

Not only was Clover Cup being led by a female TH, my crew head assignment was going to be a strong, female HR. This year, this is important to my decision making. I love working with male refs, but after my experiences at home last year, I have decided I need the mentoring of confident women to help me find a voice on the track as I overcome some of the issues that developed under poor leadership in my local area. I know several of my other crew mates as well, this is going to make me feel much more confident on the track.

Having a tournament head that recognizes the needs of their staff and placing them with the appropriate crew heads is always a factor when I look at which tournaments to apply to and return to the following season. I have been lucky enough that this has been the case for me at most of my tournaments, but I have seen companions partnered with crew heads who did not communicate in ways that worked for them and it led to a lot of disappointing interactions throughout their weekend. It is okay to wait for a TH to be announced, if possible, before applying to an event if you think that it may influence how you are staffed at the event. In fact, I would encourage a further discussion about this and it may warrant it’s own post mid-season *puts mental tag in topic*.

I’m in the goal and travel planning stage for next weekend. I leave midweek and will be gone through the weekend so I’ve re-written my packing lists a few times already. Traveling by car means I can stow a few more luxuries than I typically do, and I’ll follow up with a packing post on my personal tournament essentials in the next day or so.

My goals are pretty basic for this tournament. I went through a hard off season with a lot of changes and it left me without a clear path until really recently. Because I would like to work towards reaching Post-Season eligibility this year, I will work this tournament with the goal of recognizing my strengths and weaknesses and asking for feedback on streamlining my endeavors for the season. I’ll do this by taking notes after each game and listening carefully to critiques from my Crew Head and experienced peers.

I also want to enjoy the experience and be in the moment more than I usually am. I had a lot of anxiety and worry hovering over me last year; wondering what would happen upon my return from each event because of local leadership issues.  This year I am independent of any league and working on being the best official I can be for each event and for the leagues present. So being mindful of my own experience is part of that.

Who else is gearing up for their first tournament experience of the season? What are you doing to get ready and plan? Will I see anyone else at Clover Cup? Leave a comment on the post below and don’t forget, if you like these posts and want to help me cover more content and travel this year, you can leave a donation via the PayPal link in the menu or you can hop over to Bonfire and snag one of these cool shirts.

PS: I got a new phone and the cat wanted in on this post.

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