Hi Folks! Welcome to the first installment of the Eh-exmplar Highlights for Wave 10. In part 2, we’ll look at two of our most exemplary,-but in part 1 Jay Edwards and Mike Gyssels highlight some of the other fantastic stories our judge family created this wave.
Mike is kicking off the Canadian highlights section this wave by talking about one of his own exemplars, so that he can speak openly for a moment about why this exemplar is so meaningful, and why we have chosen to centre the highlights that follow on mental health, team-building, and social support.
Your work as my team lead at GP Montreal saved that experience for me and restored my confidence after being appealed 6 times on Day 1 of the event. While I was battling myself and some pretty bad judge tilt, you took the time to sit down with me, casually directing my focus to some off-floor tasks, while also willingly opening up about a particularly negative experience you had at your first GP as an L2. Your willingness to admit that you had made some major mistakes reassured me and assuaged the stress and tension that threatened to ruin my GP, allowing me to refocus on the task at hand—and to avoid causing any major fires because of my own self-doubt. The time you spent talking me down—without making it obvious that you were doing so—has since become a foundational judging memory for me, and an amazing learning experience that will continue to help me as a judge, mentor, and person.
Those of you that know me very well (probably only a few, given that I’ve only been here a year!) know that I have battled chronic depression for close to 16 years now. There are a multitude of articles on the unique and difficult encounters with depression, described in far more honest and thoughtful prose than I could possibly dedicate–especially when talking about myself–so I’ll say instead that the judge program has given me a number of supports, directly and indirectly. The Canadian Judge Family is quite unique, I think, in how close we are and how rapidly and with what great strength the bonds between us grow, especially given the enormous area that our region covers. As such, it’s always impressive and truly heartening when I see the support online and at GPs that our judges provide one another.
This exemplar was a really important one for me to write because my first GP was a challenge; and when I experience challenges like a first GP (and first major event as an L2) I experience a great deal of stress and nerves. Those nerves then give way to the particularly nasty symptoms of depression like impostor syndrome. After my first appeal, which I actually suggested the player make after blowing my very first ruling, I was shaken. After the second, I was downtrodden. By the end of the day I had wracked up 6 appeals. Only the first was overturned, but I was nonetheless heartbroken and really struggling with what I called “judge tilt” here, but rather was really deep depression and self-doubt that was pushing me to leave the event on the spot. Jon’s support then, and his support throughout my judge journey, along with the other great members of our community has done considerable good for me mentally and emotionally. I admire, respect, and owe a lot to Jon and judges like him who not only take the time to lift up their peers, but also know how to motivate them to beat back those internal enemies that ail us.
In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Week, we’ve chosen our exemplars this wave based again on their specificity and praiseworthiness, but also this time highlighting the social support networks that exist in our community. If you are struggling, or know someone who is, first head to the bottom of this article for information on resources in your area. Then, if you’re searching for supports within our community, you can read Chris Lansdell’s new blog, Mental Note.
Rick Miles spent almost his entire lunch break on Sunday talking shop with me and with another L1 (Michael Orr). On his third day working GP Toronto no less.
Rick listened while I vented some of the frustrations that have been wearing on me over the last couple months, but more importantly he immediately offered help and encouragement. He walked me through how he helps with his local scene so they work together, rather than against each other.
Rick listened to my praise of our local L2 Michael Roesler (who he also spent time talking too), a person who I felt deserved a little praise. He really encouraged me to speak out about all the good I see in the MTG Judge community using the Judge Reviews.
I came away from our conversation energized, and excited to get back to my LGS after the GP, and to push forward with my judging so I can get onto the Judge Crew for our GP’s next year.
It was really nice getting fresh perspectives on community building, and offers of continued support was much appreciated.
A number of our exemplars will deal with judge tilt, overtly or inadvertently at times, because we all experience it to varying degrees. It’s an effective metaphor to describe the struggles that judges have–and it can also serve somewhat as a mask, as I noted in my introduction to this article. In this case, Trevor and Michael were experiencing tilt, and a senior judge made time to connect with and mentor them, and to give them a space to vent. He then talked through some suggestions not only for dealing with their emotions, but also getting at the root problems in their respective communities.
Specificity: I want to emphasize the importance of talking through frustrations; the judge program thrives on collaboration and teamwork, and these kinds of off-the-floor interactions are excellent habits to get into in order to keep one another motivated and engaged with bettering our communities and the game as a whole.
Praiseworthiness: If you were on staff for GP Toronto, you’re aware that things were often on fire. Judges worked long shifts, extra shifts, and shifts on a bunch of different teams throughout the course of a given day. That Rick was able to sit down and spend his entire break chatting with judges looking for support and mentorship certainly deserves recognition.
Thematic Relevance: Taking care of yourself is not always easy, especially when what you need is for someone to lend an ear so that you can release some of the negative feelings that are holding you back; sometimes you need to be told that your feelings are valid, even if you don’t necessarily feel good about them. Here these two judges were able to get some one-on-one time with a seasoned member of the community and were able, through that conversation, to turn frustration into motivation and a positive outlook.
Eric, at a GP recently, we were working with a judge I had met before and you hadn’t, so you asked me for a little context on their experience in order to better support them. I was able to clarify that it wasn’t a lot, at that time. As it turned out, later in the day when I saw you again, I had become somewhat frustrated with the same judge. Before anything else, you made sure I was ok and arranged to help me feel more supported. When that was taken care of, you reminded me gently of all of the same points I had made to you earlier. It was almost verbatim, in fact, and your ironic humor gave me a laugh that I really needed. It was a good lesson in humility for me and helped me readjust my perspective on the situation to a place where I could be more productive.
Eric has a particular knack–and corresponding reputation–in the judge community, for resolving conflicts, growing bonds, and building up relationships between people. He is attuned to the mental and emotional weight that comes with working a GP, and with the conflicts and tensions that can bubble up. Megan details the thoughtful approach Eric took to help her reconcile the struggles she was having.
Specificity: We love this exemplar for its focus on a series of conversations that took place and the way those conversations built a solution to a particular problem. It’s not always necessary to call out exact quotations when trying to be specific in your exemplar writing; rather, you can describe the circumstances and the resolution of them, like Megan did here.
Praiseworthiness: It’s evident that Megan and Eric weren’t on the same team, and that Megan was looking for strategies to help the judge in question improve over the course of this GP. Again, given Eric’s interpersonal strengths, he identified areas where Megan might be having a tough time, and made sure to followup with her throughout the day. Not only did he dedicate time to coordinating with Megan, but also he was able to steer her back to their first conversation to ensure that this judge received the best training and mentorship from Megan that she could provide.
Thematic Relevance: “Judge tilt,” as we’ve discussed, can be damaging to your calls, your interactions with players, your experience at a GP. But judge tilt can also be incredibly damaging to the judges we mentor or work on teams with. It’s important to plan and coordinate with other judges when you need that assistance (as Megan did with Eric to start the day), and to likewise not be afraid to reach out and look for contingencies when things don’t go as planned. Eric’s support provided Megan some ironic levity and clarity in the situation that ameliorated some of the difficulties she was having, and by extension quelled potential conflict between Megan and the judge with whom she was working.
Submitted to Jon Goud by Darren Gamble and Wallie at Kapow
He’s been almost single-handedly spearheading Magic in my store, is a prime example of everything good about the community … There is a young autistic kid who comes here. Matt is always helping him out, helping him learn the game, learn why you do things in the game, guiding and mentoring him the whole way. Not only in aspects of playing, but also in how to be as a person at the table. The young man was a bit of a weight at the tables often, but Matt’s really changed that. Now he’s welcome at drafts, plays Standard, builds skeletons of his own deck and even does research. His parents have oft mentioned the change in him, the ability to be able to talk to people more confidently.
The kid even plays D&D now and regularly attends Magic events, even convincing one of his friends to come do 2HG at the pre-release because of how much fun it is here.”
Sounds like Matt is doing a great job creating a welcoming and enjoyable experience at stores – well done Matt!
Magic is meant to be a game enjoyed by everyone and it is our role as judges to help bring new players into the community. For some people, integrating into a new community is a lot harder than it is for others, but this exemplar goes to show that there are those in our community who are willing to go that extra mile.
Specificity: This exemplar is about as specific as you can get without naming names; Wallie and Darren go into specific details about how far Matthew goes to make his community better. Describing not only Matt’s actions, but also the results regarding the new player’s parents and the changes in this player’s behaviour adds a great deal of insight and emphasis to the exemplar.
Praiseworthiness: Every judge comes across difficult players throughout their careers and across different events. Sometimes those players are difficult by choice (e.g. their play style, desire to win, misunderstanding of the rules), but there are those who are unintentionally difficult. The latter type of player is often hard for judges to work with since it’s not just an attitude adjustment that’s needed to resolve issues, but Matthew has clearly shown that he is willing to work with pretty much anyone to bring them into the fold.
Thematic Relevance: When someone gets excluded from a community through no fault of their own, it’s detrimental for everyone involved. The person excluded is obviously missing out on some new experiences, but the people doing the excluding are also missing out on new friendships and an expanded social circle. Exclusion also hurts people actively working to improve communities, as new members and new friendships that could build a community up are lost. All of this suffering and negativity feeds back into that community; the members become more isolated, outsiders get pushed out, and rumours start to fly as social bonds break down.
Submitted for Trey McLean on Byron’s behalf by Abeed Bendall.
Trey’s been going above and beyond. Not only is he handling the weekly posts and some of the admin duties on the Saskatoon FB group, but he contributed well during an awkward situation in Regina. A TO there scheduled a PPTQ without having a judge scheduled. Trey was willing to drive down but the TO cancelled anyway because they felt Regina shouldn’t get PPTQs until they could provide their own judges for them. Some drama ensued on their group (MTG Regina — it’s closed but not hard to join), and Trey diplomatically explained to the TO how nontrivial getting local L2s is and gave him useful advice on how to handle these situations going forward
Diplomacy and teamwork are extremely important for our communities, especially within smaller ones that don’t have a large judge pool. This exemplar goes to show Trey’s commitment to ensuring that everything works well within the community on the surface as well as behind the scenes.
Specificity: Byron zeroes in on the exact reason why he wrote this exemplar: Trey’s motivation to help Magic community relations within Saskatchewan. How does he help with this incredibly important task? He handles weekly posts as well as administrative duties on the Saskatoon Facebook group, which takes both time and effort to execute properly. Byron also mentions Trey working with a TO that appears to have thought less of his smaller community, which is huge both for his community as a whole as well as future relations with that TO.
Praiseworthiness: TOs can often come off as all-knowing and above reproach but Trey appears to know that sometimes they can be wrong. By taking a diplomatic approach instead of a more emotional, knee-jerk reaction, Trey has also shown his more diplomatic side and it sounds like it’s left an impression on the community in a positive way.
Thematic Relevance: Mental health is not just an individual issue. A healthy community requires a collective healthy mind and Trey has gone above and beyond to ensure that his community stays as healthy as possible. Likewise, in his exemplar, Byron notes Trey’s commitment to the Facebook group and his diplomatic approach to any situation that threatens to damage his community’s mindset.
That’s it for this installment of our spotlight on the stars. Next time, we take a look at the top recognition-getters in our region, and sit down to chat with some of the folks who wrote nominations for them!
For links to Mental Health support services in your area:
For training on Suicide Prevention, Awareness, and Crisis Support:
If you are in Crisis:
Special thanks to David Poon for his fine-toothed editing skills on this article.