This past Fall, I announced that ParentingAces would be giving out a Best Tournament Director Award to shine a light on those men and women who go above and beyond for the benefit of our junior players. I opened up the nominations back in October and received 21 unique names. Those of you who submitted nominations really took the time to describe the why behind your nomination, and each of the nominees deserves to be recognized for his/her great work. For a while, I considered giving the award to all 21 of them – honestly, they all warrant extensive kudos from all of us! However, after careful consideration, I decided that, since I had dubbed it the “Best,” I should make the difficult decision and choose one overall winner. And so, I give you the 2014 Best Tournament Director(s) . . .
Scott & Lorraine Novak
When I emailed Scott and Lorraine about their award, they replied with, “The ParentingAces Best Tournament Director Award is a great honor for our tournament staff at the Mobile Tennis Center. We often browse the ParentingAces website looking for suggestions to improve our tournaments. For example, we recently read ParentingAces ‘My Wish List for Junior Tournaments‘ and borrowed a few ideas on how to make tournaments more fun for the kids”
They went on, “We have a great tournament staff. Many who have been with us for 10 years and really want to create a positive experience for kids and parents. We are fortunate in Mobile to have the financial support and backing of our community and local government to help run quality events. In sports, we realize that you can’t always please everyone, but we strive and grade ourselves on the following:
- Communication before and during the tournament.
- Plenty of staff. Overstaff officials, run the tournament at a financial loss if necessary, but always have enough officials.
- Customer Service. Be friendly with everyone, but always strive to be fair. Be sensitive to parents. They drive hours to get to Mobile, AL, spend hundreds of dollars, and want their child to have a positive experience.
- Kids are the priority. Only one kid can win a tournament, but 63 other kids can have a positive experience. Create a fun environment for players.
- Be organized and have a plan for the many things that can occur during a tournament.
- Schedule and being efficient with times. No one likes to wait and be late going on the court. No one cares if we have a good excuse. Late is late!
- Realize tournament directors are not perfect and admit when we make a mistake. It happens.
- The 98-2 Theory. Have the attitude that all parents and kids are good people. But realize during each tournament, 98% of kids and parents are good people who are honest on and off the court. Don’t penalize the 98% of the “good acting” kids and parents for the actions of the 2% who are having a bad day or bad month. On the other hand, appropriately deal with the 2% that misbehave so they don’t ruin the tournament.”
The person who nominated the Novaks for the award was pretty definitive that they should be the recipients of this first honor! “Scott and Lorraine are organized, innovative and generous. They are always trying to find ways to improve their tournaments. They handle any problems professionally, are flexible and resourceful and are always willing to listen. Scores are posted promptly and the website provides plenty of information. The amenities they offer, from the clothing to the food to the recreation for players, are top notch. They are able to continually improve their facility and often provide chair umpires (for national tournaments) above what is required. Southern hospitality is alive and well in Mobile.” I would say that’s a glowing recommendation!
So, what does this mean for Scott and Lorraine? Well, for one, they are getting some amazing swag to add value to their tournaments in 2015 from Adidas, Holabird Sports, and Wristpect Sport!. They will also be receiving a banner to hang at the Mobile Tennis Center. And I have sent a press release to various tennis media in hopes that the Novaks will get additional recognition for their outstanding work.
I would be remiss if I neglected to honor the other nominees. They all deserve to be recognized for their outstanding efforts. Hopefully, in future years, this award can be expanded to include multiple recipients. In the meantime, I give you the 2014 Nominees (listed alphabetically):
- Scott Axler – Eastern Section
- Brian Banas – Midwest Section
- Don Bradley – Southern Section
- Amy Rose Brooks – Mid-Atlantic Section
- Joseph Cappellino – Mid-Atlantic Section
- Lowell Coffman – Florida Section
- Michael Coleman – Southern Section
- Judy Dippold – Missouri Valley Section
- Laurie Hackbirth – Mid-Atlantic Section
- Wayne Harrell – New England Section
- Cathy Jacobson-Guzy – Southern Section
- Michael Jessup – Northern California Section
- John Lansville – Southern California Section
- Teresa LeMair – Mid-Atlantic Section
- Brian Morrissey – Florida Section
- Brian Notis – Texas Section
- Mark Riley – Midwest Section
- Randy Stevens – Mid-Atlantic Section
- Eric Voges – Southern Section
- Robbie Wagner – Eastern Section
Congratulations to all the nominees! And thank you to those who took the time to nominate them! I believe it is important that we continue to recognize and thank those tournament directors who make the extra effort to create events that stand out and make us want to keep coming back year after year. Please be sure to support all of these incredible tournament directors in 2015. Well done!