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published January-February Issue 2016


One Year Down, Ready for Another

by Jerry Smith, 3rd Vice President and Sanction League Director, Junior Scholarships


When this is published, I will have completed my first year as NHPA 3rd Vice President and Director of the Sanctioned League Program. I’m reflecting back on my year, which required an intense learning process and the need to expand my skill sets. The processes needed to successfully direct the Sanctioned League Program certainly are varied and need attention from January to December.


The year started slow enough when data for winter leagues began to arrive in early January, as did several thousand league patches. The storage and sorting of patches presented an interesting logistics problem, solved by plastic bins and new shelves.


I set up an Excel spreadsheet to deal with incoming league results, thinking it could do what I needed for data manipulation while I tried to understand my predecessor David Sidles’s Access program. Not being literate in Access, I struggled, and with David in his new NHPA Secretary/Treasurer position, I did not want to continually be bothering him. So I turned to my Virginia friends, Kevin and Pat Snelgrove, for help. They came to my rescue and Kevin designed and built an Excel program – somewhat under my direction, or at least what was needed to appease me – while trying to make it foolproof for my mistake-prone fingers.


Pat began working with David’s Access program to make it user-friendlier and to give me an easy way to produce accurate Top Ten reports. These reports are difficult with 30 different categories to sort and many complex parameters. Ultimately, I will be able to produce reports at will, and have the information for award certificates and plaques to be produced. We have burned up the phone lines between Idaho and Virginia with almost daily calls. I cannot thank these two people enough as they have invested countless hours in me and the NHPA.


Meanwhile, February was the time to send out the 2014 Top Ten awards and plaques, as well as Junior Scholarship materials. I also attended my first NHPA winter officers meeting in Topeka, Kansas. The winter meeting is one of only two times (the World Tournament being the other) that the officers can get together face-to-face and discuss the amazing amount of NHPA business, our individual responsibilities, as well as the many and varied aspects concerning the looming World Tournament.


The spring and early summer involved the continued tweaking of the league software, the planning of the Sanctioned League Tournament, preparation for travel, and dealing with World Tournament problems, entering league data, and the never-ending job of shipping league patches. This, of course, brought me to the post office two or three times a week. I also finished my second draft of the re-write of the “Red Book,” which should be ready early next year.


During this same time frame, I had to calculate the annual group of sanctioned league clubs (40) that earned five-year longevity awards. I contacted each club to find out if they wanted the award, made sure records were correct, then ordered and shipped the awards. It was also time to choose a “Director of the Year” and prepare background information for his/her ceremony presentation at the World Tournament.


July was World Tournament time … an intense 21 days of travel and long days of working shifts, and pitching. The tournament takes an immense amount of work by many dedicated people. The NHPA officers and directors are constantly busy and the local organization is rushing toward the finish line of what was probably a two- or three-year endeavor. The Kansas group did an excellent job.


Returning home, I was bombarded by league results and patch requests. I averaged around six leagues a day and this upped my postal service. This pace continued until late October and I have now handled well over 260 leagues so far this year. We will end up with around 300 leagues for 2015, which requires 5,000 lines of data to be entered into the spreadsheet. I have also processed 11 new league applications and certificates this year.


The first weekend of October, I traveled to Wentzville, Missouri, to the NHPA’s Hall of Fame and ran the National Sanctioned League Tournament involving 20 three-person teams.


Returning home once again, I found more and more league results, but the pace was slowing, so I decided the patch designs were a little stale after 30 or so years, and I redesigned the entire array of league patches for 2016. Only the undated “percent” patches will stay the same. Next month, I will show off the new designs, which have all been ordered for 2016.


In November, I published the first preliminary Top Ten list on the website and am in the process of accepting scholarship applications.


I placed newer and better league forms on the website and hope to have better, more interactive ones up next year. In the next Newsline, I will discuss paperwork-related problems and try to better explain my expectations for Sanctioned League Directors.


That covers most of my first year, and I hope this helps explain why some errors were made and some emails were late or lost. Year Two will be better.


I want to thank Rob Hagman, David Sidles, the Snelgroves, and especially my wonderful wife Diane for all of their help.  It’s been a wild ride, but fun and interesting.