Here we have another month with a special page dedicated to the L3 anniversaries because there were so many of them! This month we share a quartet of Level 3 anniversaries:First, back in 2006, Aaron Hamer certified for Level 3 at Pro Tour Kobe. We asked his Regional Coordinator, Scott Marshall, to share some thoughts:
“Aaron Hamer, ten years as L3! What can I tell the world about Aaron that they don’t already know? It’s common knowledge that he was the brave soul that stepped into the gargantuan shoes of Andy Heckt, and helped guide the Judge Program through some rather tumultuous times. It’s also fairly well known that Aaron was, for a time, the Regional Coordinator for the US-Northwest region. And I’m sure that lot of people have had the pleasure of working with Aaron, in various capacities, at various Magic (and non-Magic) events. And if you ask Facebook, you’ll learn that he’s studied at both the University of Hawaii and now the University of Edinburgh. A worldly man, a man of the world.
But a little more than 10 years ago, Aaron Hamer was just an arrogant, brilliant, passionate, motivated L2, sitting in a bar with a couple of L3s (myself and Michael King), hammering us with ideas and seeking guidance on his own path to L3. I remember thinking “if this guy can channel his passion and implement his genius, the world may be a different – and better! – place.” That’s certainly true for the judging world; Aaron’s fingerprints are all over a number of positive changes. And, once he completes his studies, and he’s unleashed himself upon the greater world, I expect that positive impact to continue, on a much broader scale. (Look out, world!)
Aaron, thank you for pouring so much of yourself into making the Judge Program a better place; thank you for being a champion of so many who needed one; and thank you for being a friend to me throughout.”Jump ahead five years to 2011 and we find the rest of our L3 anniversaries. At Grand Prix Milan, Giorgos (George) Trichopoulos passed his Level 3 certification. Level 3 judge David de la Iglesia had this to say about Giorgos:
“Some people remember Pro Tour Berlin 2008 because of LSV taking down the event with his Elves deck. Some remember how Missed Triggers and OOOS started being applied at Professional REL. Some remember Jurgen Baert being promoted to L3. What I remember from Pro Tour Berlin is that it was the event where I first met Giorgos Trichopoulos, or as we call him in Spain, “El griego loco”.
Since then we traveled together judging all around the world, and years later it was a privilege to be there next to him both when he made it to L3 at GP Milan 2011 and when he was promoted to RC of the Europe-East region at GP Rimini 2013. It has been 8 amazing years where I have been lucky to have him as a friend, and more recently as my RC.
Giorgos is one of those people who brings a special light when he enters a room. Most people admire from him his kindness, compassion and endless joyfulness. I admire his ability to be contagiously happy.
It is very inspiring to see someone like him, so generous, so little self-centered and so happy with what he does with his life. He is the type of person that let others have the pride and the spotlight, while he keeps the satisfaction on the results. Giorgos helps others grow, he is a facilitator that gets others to be better selves. It is no surprise to me that everyone loves having him around.
Here’s to many more years of Greek craziness, congratulations Giorgos!”Later in October of 2011, we had two more new Level 3s certified at Grand Prix Amsterdam. Fellow Swiss judge, Isabelle Grieb, shared her thoughts on Jeremie Granat:
“Jeremie was the first judge I ever got to know, and to this day he continues to define my standards for excellence as a judge.
When he turned up all of a sudden in our local playgroup and announced he was a new judge and would now be working with a local shop so we’d have tournaments on a regular basis, we didn’t know what to expect from him, but the formerly fragmented community in our area quickly gathered around him; so quickly and consistently that the local store couldn’t even handle the success any more. At the same time he seemed to go up a level every few weeks effortlessly, and every few weeks he would share new stories to our playgroup, of Nationals first, then GPs, then Pro Tours, and he’d gleam with passion every time he talked about judging, the friends he made, and the opportunities the program offered him. Needless to say that soon enough new judges popped up all around him and everybody seemed to gravitate towards Jeremie as an example.
At some point he started dedicating more time to international events and projects, but to this day he remains the center of the local and national Magic community, and he still walks into the shop on Friday evening and watches the new candidates or takes a few calls in order to simply enjoy the amazing community he created.
Over time, Jeremie’s standards became my standards as well, and it was only when I first peeked into the judge program on an international level that I realized my admiration of him is shared by outstanding judges around the world, and each one of them came up with their own story why Jeremie is a hero to them. This made it apparent how much he has contributed to the global judge community with the same innovative spirit as he continues to do on a local level, but being the modest person he is, he never really took credit for all the ways in which he made all our judge-lives better.
One thing that defines Jeremie is his holding himself to extremely high standards, continuously challenging himself to improve on every level. At the same time he is very measured when it comes to his expectations of other judges; while he challenges judges around him to excel, he never expects the impossible and values the smallest victories.
Jeremie is a person who always makes things look easy and fun, no matter if he’s in charge of the dullest or the most difficult tasks, and it took me a long time to realize how tough it must be to always keep up that pace. So – and I’ll let him speak for himself – why does he keep doing all of this? – “Because it gives me an opportunity to touch lives beyond Magic.”
Jeremie, we’re all looking forward to the next five years with you!”Finally, we get to hear some thoughts about Sebastian Pękala from Kaja Pękala:
“Sebastian’s journey to judging had begun probably long before he even realized it. While still a relatively new player, he was always very eager to help the TO in his hometown and his community with anything he could. That was true even though his main focus at that time was playing the game – and playing it in the best way possible. While this competitive spirit was still there when he decided to pick up the shirt – fueling him to get better and climb up the level ladder – he never lost his deep connection with people around him nor the desire to help everyone. On the contrary – the better he got, the better he could serve other people, the more he could offer to the community.
When Sebastian became L3, it was no surprise to anyone – at that point he was already both a solid leader and a manager, and had a strong presence in the community he cared so much about. What did come as a surprise, was that merely a few days after his promotion, he was offered the position of Regional Coordinator of a newly established region… but was it really that surprising, though? There was a clear need for our secession, and there was the right man for the job – it’s easy to judge events from the past, but the solution must have seemed rather obvious.
During the five years under Sebastian’s guidance, our region has grown both in quantity and quality of judges, and I’m sure it will continue to thrive – because even after all those years, his drive to make his community a better one is still present.
Dear Sebastian, let me thank you, on behalf of our community, for all those years of your selfless and tireless work. And Happy L3 Anniversary!”
Congratulations and best wishes to all four of these fine Level 3 judges!