Welcome to the Benelux Blog, where today we bring you another Exemplar Recognition Spotlight, this time for Wave 12!
As usual we had the honour of sifting through the recognitions that were given to the many judges in our region, and we’ll highlight a couple of the ones we wanted to give some extra attention in this article.
It was impressive seeing how quickly and easily you integrated yourself into the regional judge community! At the Utrecht Conference you were an active participant and on the forum you took the initiate offering to show others around afterwards or a place to stay the night, while you were the newest judge in attendance. On the Benelux Facebook group you shared your notes for Unstable and an interesting rules scenario that made it into Mark Dragstra’s seminar about the new set. Welcome to the family, I hope you like it here and will stay for a long time! (‘౪’(`౪´(^౪^(´･౪･`)´౪`)°౪°)-౪-)
To get some more insight on this, we asked Arjen for his view on the matter;
When I started actively working to become a judge my rules knowledge was already pretty good and I had already considered going for this for some time. This combined with the fact that my mentor Toby Hazes gave me very smooth guidance allowed me to move fast and go from asking my local store owner ‘would it be helpful to you if I judged here’ to doing my level 1 exam between exactly 2 pre-releases. If there’s any sort of wisdom I’d like to transfer to fellow level 1’s or new members of the judge community I’d guess it would be to not underestimate your ability to contribute. The judge community can be quite intimidating when you first join, you barely know anyone, there are a lot of people with years of experience and a knowledge pool that vastly exceeds your own. However, each of us can have different views and expertises, or just happen to be doing something other judges, more experienced or not, could benefit from. Don’t be scared to share your input or actively participate, you might just get a recognition with loads of smileys 😉.
It’s never easy to find your spot in a thriving community, especially one as big and diverse as the BeNeLux Judges, but Arjen shows us that there is always a place where your participation or insight is welcome.
A year or two ago you started a Facebook group in the Danish judge community. The public language is in Danish, a language that you do not speak! And even though our country (and region) only have the pleasure of your company for a limited time, you still decided to make a difference in the relationship between players and judges in Denmark. I do not believe I can find anything more exemplary than that.
Will had the following words to add;
I am glad this project is becoming a beloved part of the Danish community: when I moved to Denmark, I found it so strange to see players asking rules questions on LGS’s facebook pages, of all places. This often resulted in the most vocal players answering, not necessarily the most competent ones; misconceptions and “urban legends” (it’s illegal to ID!) were easily perpetrated; and I felt casual players did not see judges as a friendly or relatable entities, even though there were a lot of L1s and L2s in the area!
The group helped bridge the gap and attract casual players towards Organized Play and Magic Judges, and provided an outlet to many local judges who were eager to work on local projects. A lot of the judges involved proved Exemplar, through their unique and constructive contributions.
Communication is a topic I am finding more and more influential in my life, so as usual I turned to the Judge Program to find a way to practice it and improve myself while helping others. This has been and keeps being my secret recipe for staying excited and getting the best out of the program every day.
It’s easy to lose track of how convenient it can be to have a way of communicating to each other, especially if like us in the BeNeLux, you have access to a widely used Facebook-group, in addition to the Blog and the Bulletin, but all of those had to be started somewhere, and Will seemed to have made that happen in Denmark. If you haven’t seen our own Facebook-grouppage, you can find it here.
Thank you Anniek for ‘sappy.txt’, a Valentine letter to judging.
I believe that, in the long run, we judge because it makes us feel good about ourselves, and that people who, like you, provide this warm feeling of a job well done are a key part, providing a lot of reward for what we do.
Especially in these times, using social medias to have a positive impact to these around you, being a paragon in virtues, and an inspiration for others, is exactly what we need in the community.
Thank you for the time and effort you did put in that piece.
The letter actually says all there is to say about Anniek’s view on this situation, so if you haven’t read it yet, go do so, it’s great 🙂
I know I don’t post much and when I do it’s some kind of gushing ‘omg this was an awesome GP everything and everyone was great’ blurb, and the last one I wrote is less than a day old. I feel a bit weird about the fact that I’m writing yet another one (the draft of this post was saved to my computer as ‘sappy.txt’) so if you don’t like sickly-sweet ramblings you’d better keep scrolling. But I mean every word of it, so here it is. tl;dr I love judging and judges and players and everything.
I’ve always loved judging. The satisfaction of an event running smoothly always was and probably always will be the primary reason for me to do it. But for the past year or so I find myself unable to wipe the smile off my face even on days when the event is objectively below what I’d consider ‘smooth’, so there must be something more going on than just tournament operations. That something else can only be described as love from the community.
The past couple of years have been an upward spiral in which people put enough trust in me to allow me to try things I hadn’t done before. The experience I got doing those things was then enough for them to trust me to do more advanced stuff, from weird Friday Trials systems all the way through to judging features at the PT. It has increased my skill and self-confidence a ton, and at the same time it’s terrifying: The higher the expectations, the easier it gets to let people down. I was worried about that pressure when I made L3. I preferred being the underdog. I still worry about it. But my experience in practice has been that people are happy for me to be there. That they put me in positions where I could fuck up relevant things but trust me not to. That they are happy to provide me with feedback on how I could improve, but that this pretty much never has a feeling of failing associated with it. *(Call for feedback at the bottom of the post). I feel safe and appreciated and loved.
The international tournament scene has gone from being overwhelming and weird and wonderful to being my home, my comfort zone. I only recently realized how weird it would have seemed to me 10 years ago to walk into a GP hall and to feel familiar with everything going on in there. To know what it means that a judge with a clipboard is hanging out near the SK with 2 minutes left on the round clock, what it means that a tall blue flag is being moved around the hall, what the incessant beeping sounds around the SE stage are, which flightcase the sharpies are in, and to be able to locate the curtain behind which the stroopwafels (and the rest of the judge room) are lurking. But most important is the feeling of walking into the hall and seeing familiar faces. Judges, scorekeepers, TO staff, players, artists, cosplayers and everyone else. I spent Friday at London just wandering around the hall and bumping into people to say hi to and have a chat with, and it was lovely (I also drafted and lost horribly but even that was kind of nice). Last weekend in Bilbao I met a bunch of judges and players who will be familiar faces moving forward.
So yeah, this is a love letter to the community as a whole (a bit early for a valentine, but I didn’t want to sit on this for a week just to be clever). I might have the strongest ties to the judge community, but we’d be nowhere without the TOs and most of all the players. I love that TOs are willing to listen to my ramblings (and sometimes bitching) about ODEs. We joke about those pesky players messing with our logistics plans or round turnover schedules, but of course we run the tournament for them. One of them recently told me that judging is a thankless job, but it really isn’t. That handful of players that makes the effort to come up at the end of the day and thank us always makes my day. And even if they don’t, the highfives in the judge team never fail to make me feel appreciated. Magic has become such a big part of my life, and I worry sometimes about our ‘breakup’. Realistically Magic is probably not going to be around for the rest of my life, or it’s going to change, maybe in ways I don’t like. I hope it will be a clean break if/when it happens.
But for the time being, I love being a part of it. So thank you, all of you, for making it what it is. ❤️
* Call for feedback: If you do think I suck at something or that I have wronged you somehow, let me know. My performance is not all rainbows and unicorns and I’d rather know the truth than falsely stay in the wonderful comfy bubble that I’m describing here. Also this call for feedback is not just for judges. I’d love to hear feedback from players. I know it’s potentially touchy in terms of ‘I don’t want to tell a judge I think they suck, they will start making rulings against me’ or ‘This judge ruled in favor of my opponent, therefore they must be wrong and they suck’ but still I’d like to hear it. So here’s an option to tell me things anonymously. Neutral and positive feedback will also be accepted.:D
We very much agree with the feelings Anniek is sharing here, judging can be a job, and it can be a chore, but it is also a passion, and it is being part of such a great community that makes a lot of the work worthwhile.
As an organiser of our quarterly Belgian Judge Dinners I’m both happy and impressed to see how much effort you put into encouraging new judges and judge candidates to attend these social gatherings.
For the Rivals of Ixalan dinner you went the extra mile and made a forum posts about who these people are, what their goals are and if we would give them an extra warm welcome.
The care you put into making sure your judge candidates not only get the best possible mentoring but also the best possible treatment is absolutely off the charts and a great example for me and many other mentoring judges.
Thank you, Michiel!
We asked Michiel what his thoughts on this recognition were, and he provided us with the following:
Personally, what keeps me invested in the Judge Program is the awesome community of Judges. When I certify someone, or am in the proces of certifying them I try to be as inclusive as possible, and take them under my wings. That includes Judge Dinners and Conferences. They learn something but also see the social aspect of being a Judge. With the transition of Judge Dinners in to small conferences, the goal being educating but also entertaining, this will become a perfect training ground. I am thankful for Jonas his kind words, and appreciate this motivation to keep my efforts up.
It is a daunting world waiting out there for new and beginning judges, but if we all go the extra mile to make those people feel welcomed, then that can only improve our Community.
I want to recognize the way you are mentoring our local Judge candidates. Providing them with opportunities to Judge, shadowing them and giving great feedback. They feel safe and learn a ton from your experience. You never enforce your good practices, but allow them to try out stuff and reflect on it. I was also impressed with how you handle feedback talks after an event. You were also wondering how to improve your mentoring skills and wether tools/hints were available somewehere. This quality of mentoring is rare, especially among L1 Judges. I hope every candidate and starting L1 has someone like you in their proximity.
Tristan added this:
After I passed my level 1 certification I had this “dry” period, I was just judging my local FNM’s and wasn’t really being tested as a judge. Then a couple of months later, 2 local players approached me asking on how to take the first steps in becoming a judge. I reffered them to my local lvl 2 judge and mentor Michiel Van den Bussche. So suddenly I was put into the position of mentor myself after only being judge for half a year. It was quiet daunting at first because I’ve always been a shy person by nature. I was fortunate to have a beginning magic communtity and store to test my knowledge at fnm’s while studying for my lvl 1 exam, so I naturally wanted to give these candidates the same oppertunities that I had. I gave them the option to dive in deep and judge the local standard and gentry fnm’s while still being there in person to shadow them and give them the reassurance that if something would go wrong or they weren’t sure about something I was there to help them. This also oppened up a new area of being a judge that I didn’t know about, being a great mentor. So naturally I looked to mine for information on how to help guide them and what type of behaviour I had to look out for. Having these new candidates around asking all these questions really tests me on my CR and JAR knowledge and makes me want to learn more aswell. They remind me that even though I’m a lvl 1 that I still have a lot to learn and a long road ahead of me. I strive to be the best judge I can be because that’s what my community deserves.
There are many ways to grow in the Judge Community, and sure, the levels are one of those. But also within one’s level there is more going on than you would think from a quick first glance, and this recognition is a great way of showing that!
With that said, we have reached the end of that post, but we’ll be back soon enough, with more great examples of judges doing awesome things! If you see somebody doing something truly exemplary, and want to thank them for that, don’t forget to recognize them on JudgeApps (https://apps.magicjudges.org/recognitions/). If you can’t, then our Regional Coordinator, Richard Drijvers, can make it happen for you! Just fill in this this contact form.
Thank you for reading, and keep on being Exemplary!
See you soon,
The BeNeLux Blog Team