The USJA/USJF National Coaches Conference is in Las Vegas next weekend. So is the All-Women's Tournament. As usual, there are the people who signed up the minute the registration forms came out, booked their tickets on travelocity the same day and have had their luggage packed for three weeks.
Then, there are the people like me.
I did get my hotel room booked (on the very last day for the discounted rate). I was lucky there was an error in the conference flyer so they extended the deadline. (It said the conference, including banquet, was $90 pre-registration. It is actually $75 .) So, I am filling out the conference forms now.
I am also collecting registration forms for the Coaches Conference and the All Women's Tournament at the West Coast Training Center practices this weekend. I know I am not the only person like this because Mike Couchigan and John Weiner in Las Vegas will be doing the same thing.
On the one hand, I could complain that we are not all like the first type. On the other hand (where you have different fingers), many of those last minute people like me are volunteering for the tournament as medical staff, refereeing, pooling, keeping score, competing, teaching a clinic. When I look at the people who have confirmed (whether they sent in their registration forms or not, and you know who you are), these include Lynn Roethke, who is an Olympic silver medalist, Jim Pedro, Sr. who has coached players in the last four or five Olympics (I lost count), Martin Bregman, who has refereed in the world championships and been national champion (how many of you knew that?), Hayward Nishioka who is a world-level referee, competed in the world championships and coached the world team... the list goes on. Pretty cool. I'll write more about some of these people when I have more time, as I have to leave for work in a minute.
So, this brings me to the people like me, who are really not slackers but don't have infinite time and money. Sometimes we chastise (yes, I am one of the few people who regularly uses the word 'chastise') those people for not being more dedicated, more on top of things, more some thing. I have gotten yelled at all my life for being a 'last minute' person, although in my defense things do usually get done, just at the last minute. My view is, if you are on the boat when it leaves the dock, you are on time, no?
People like us try to do judo, support judo and do 50 other things in our lives, too. We don't appreciate being criticized for not doing enough when we are devoting our spare time and money in the pursuit of that USJA Development mission - developing good people, strong communities and great athletes, in that order.
]This is the part that applies to you California, New Mexico, etc. people.]
The events coming up next weekend reminded me of a poster someone put up in church one day. It went something like this:
- For all of you who don't come to church because Sunday is your only day to sleep in, Mass will begin at 2 p.m.
- For those of you who find God in nature, one section of the church will be devoted to trees and grass.
- We will have steel helmets for those who say, "The roof would cave in if I ever came to church."
- Scorecards will be available for those who wish to list the hypocrites present.
and so on.
I am not opposed to those ideas, actually. I have been missing church too much lately, I must admit. So, along these lines and very seriously, here is what I recommend.
1. If you live in or near Las Vegas and are limited in time or budget, come to the clinic with Lynn Roethke at 9 a.m. at the Palace Station Hotel & Casino. It only costs $15, it is open to everyone, male, female, young, old. You will be out doing your weekend errands by Saturday morning around 11 and feel good about yourself for getting some exercise, learn some judo and have a good time.
2. If you are not a morning person (can I ever relate), have bad knees or other serious injury that make it difficult for you to get on the mat, come to the Palace Station around 6 pm, Pay the $45 for the banquet and hear advice from Hayward Nishioka, Lynn Roethke & Jim Pedro, Sr. on coaching. Plus, you get dinner. Drink tickets are also available for those who cannot go to Las Vegas without drinking (hey, I'm not judgemental ! )
3. If you don't like going to dinner or have a date Saturday night (lucky you), come to the tournament and compete on Saturday (if you are female) or go to the coaching conference on Sunday.
4. If you have very limited time and only on Sunday, look at the conference program. The morning sessions are the "club business" ones in a classroom, with Gary Goltz teaching about marketing and Paul Nogaki explaining how to incorporate as a non-profit. These are followed by Hal Sharp demonstrating the Kodokan Certificate program (on the mat). The afternoon is all on the mat with Hayward Nishioka teaching ashi waza, Lynn Roethke teaching tachi wazi, Jim Pedro teaching newaza and Bill Montgomery teaching ashi waza drills. The cost for Sunday only is $30 in advance and $50 at the door.
We tried to be like the "No Excuse Church", hosting all of the events in one place, in a hotel that was not prohibitively expensive, with excellent clinicians who are experts in each area, plenty of competition for those who never get very many matches (girls and women), in a location where coaches can bring their families and non-judo family members can do things in the hotel or on the strip while the judo enthusiast is at the tournament / conference.
So... if you live anywhere within driving distance of Las Vegas, hop in the car and try to make it over to the Palace Station on January 23=24 . I know that areas such as Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico do not get lots of judo events, which is why we held the event here. We wanted to reach out and be more accessible to you all.
Also, just a thought for some of the rest of you. A few years ago, in my brief stint with retirement, some athletes I knew were competing in the San Jose Buddhist and I just bought a plane ticket that morning and hopped a flight to northern California just for fun. I watched the fight, had dinner at a nice restaurant and flew home. If you know me, you know that I am the most ultra-goal focused person you ever meet. It is extremely out of character for me to do anything just for the hell of it and for fun. I still remember that weekend as just randomly fun. So, if you have a credit card and have been working too much lately. Hop on to travelocity or the other site of choice for last minute random people and book a last minute deal to Las Vegas. If you just do one of the four choices above and spend the rest of your time at the pool, I promise not to tell. You probably deserve that rest anyway.
Just (ju)do what you can.