Greetings Judges! Another great week for another great RC! This week’s Judge of the Week is Justin Turner, L3 and Regional Coordinator for the Southeast United States from St. Petersburg, Florida!
This Judge of the Week interview was conducted at GP: Miami on Sunday by John Temple. He and Justin got a few moments to sit down, relax, and conduct an interview. Here are some of the highlights:
Tell us your favorite judge story.
My favorite judge story would probably be the time that we had the Boom Tube game and we were playing at Grand Prix Atlanta in 2012. Matt Tabak, the Rules Manager, was there as a guest speaker/gunslinger and he actually got one of the Boom Tubes and he made a comprehensive rules entry on our Boom Tube that was written like legit Comp Rules and then signed it. That’s now the one we use in all of our Florida events. It was pretty sweet.
(For those of you who don’t know. The Boom Tube game involves a card called Boom Tube from the VS card game. The goal is to put it on the person of another participant in the game (usually judges) without them knowing. This could be a back pocket, their judge shirt pocket, a hat, or another other clever method you can think of. If successful, you let them carry the card for some time then expose the fact that they are carrying the card (We call this “booming”) in whatever silly or embarrassing way you see fit.)
Tell us an embarrassing story that you’re not afraid of everyone knowing.
Well this one actually happened… now. Last night, in fact. Saturday night, I’m having a couple of beers at the hotel, by the pool, swimming around. We decide that it’s time to go back in and go to bed. So, I decide to swim underwater from one end of the pool to the other. Well, the water is super, extra-chlorinated. I get half way and I can’t keep my eyes open anymore. I close my eyes and apparently turn sharply and swim straight head first into the side of the pool. And now, I’ve come to work with this gash on my forehead.
How has being a judge influenced your non-Magic life?
Management. Becoming a judge and becoming a higher level judge influenced my ability to effectively lead people in my professional life, where I’m a manager. I used to have this issue where I was the younger guy trying to manage older people and they thought they knew more than me. They didn’t want to listen to me. I learned some more effective communication techniques and some ways where you can present an idea in a non-confrontational manner and get what you want done and make the person you’re telling feel good about doing the thing you’re telling them to do. The judge program and team leading at Grand Prix and PTQs and stuff really gave me the skills to do that better in my real life.
What motivates you to continue being a part of the judge program?
The people. Not even close. You get into it. You think you’re really interested in the rules interactions. You get in because you want to learn the rules. You’re interested in the policy. You’re interested in the interactions. But once you learn that stuff, it gets a little boring and what makes you stay is the connections, the people you meet from all over the world that you know, once or twice a year, you can go to an event and just have a blast for three days with these people that are just like you from all walks of life, speak all different kinds of languages, and you just get to hang out with them. That’s the whole reason I keep doing it.
What’s your favorite non-judging moment that’s happened between you and some of your judge pals?
My favorite moment would be during the good old days out in front of Armada Games when we first started the Florida judge community when there were very few of us. What we would do is, every Friday night, the store would close at like midnight. Then, 10, 12, 13, 20 of us would just stand there around the parking lot drinking, carrying on, cursing, yelling at each other, teaching other things, and just having a great time. It was like a party every week as long as possible. It was just fantastic. And those were the times that really got me interested in judging and it built those connections that make me still want to be a judge today… Also judge dinners, by the way.
What’s the biggest rule-breaking play you’ve ever made as a player?
I actually straight cheated. Before I was a judge, I was really hard on grinding to get the rating, back when we had a rating system. I was trying to get on the Nationals team. I was at an FNM. My rating was like 1890 and I think I needed 1950 to qualify for Nationals. I had three months to do so. Well one of the kids in the shop was a thirteen year old kid. He keeps a no-lander against me and plays with his hand face down and beats me. I’m like, “This can’t happen to me. I can’t lose to this kid on a no-lander.” I’m on full tilt at this point and I straight up just gave the kid a Cryptic Command for the win. Just straight up cheated.
If you could chat with one person, real or fictional, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
I could be really nerdy right now. I could try to be intelligent right now. Hmm, there’s a lot of angles I can go here. My favorite book series is the Dark Tower novels by Stephen King. So, as far as fictional characters go, it would definitely be the Gunslinger who is the main character of the Dark Tower series. That guy is the nuts. I would definitely like to hang out with that guy.
Who are your role models in the judge program and what drew you to them?
My first one would probably be Jason Lems, level 5, from Wisconsin. He and I became friends almost from the day we met. He and I are a lot alike and what drew me to him as a continued role model as I progressed further in the program is that he has that zany, off-the-wall, don’t take it so serious, this is all about fun but at the same time is able to rope it in and be serious and get judges to do what they need to be doing, and run a good event. So he’s really been one of the people I have looked at and tried to emulate to find that balance between loosey-goosey, let’s everybody have a good time but this event needs to run on schedule, needs to be on time, rulings need to be right, and players need to be happy.
What is your favorite after event story?
My favorite after event story would be after Grand Prix Dallas, 2011. This would be Sheldon Menery’s swan song. The last event he head judged. After the event was over, we all went bar hopping in downtown Houston. We started off at this Mexican restaurant. We had a few drinks, we were feeling pretty good. We decided we wanted to start wandering down the street. Every place we seem to find is either overpriced or it’s closed. We end up finding a place called Fahrenheit’s which has these red lights everywhere, a disco ball in the middle of the room, and a big movie projector on the side of the wall. But the shots of tequila are like $2.50 so we’re all like, “Here’s the spot.” So we go inside, get some drinks, we’re having a good time. We look above us and there’s a second level and there’s all these dudes in straight up leather and chains and they’re like the absolutely most cliché gay bar clientele you can possibly think of all just standing up there staring at us. And we look over like, “Ooohhhhh…” We stayed. Don’t get me wrong. We stayed. That was definitely the best.
As a Regional Coordinator, what is your current focus in your region?
The current focus in my region is developing the states in my region that don’t have the established network that a Florida or a Georgia would have, or even an Alabama would have. The other outlier states are like South Carolina and Mississippi. My current priority number one and focus of all of my efforts is building a network in those two states so that the stores that are getting these Star City Iqs and these TCG Player events can have a network of people so that they can have a judge for their events.
Anything you would like to add or questions you’d like to ask yourself?
Pretty much anytime I’m ever interviewed as an RC, I don’t know how many people listen to them so I’ll say it for anytime I’m ever interviewed as an RC because I want this to reach as many people as possible: A lot of judges don’t understand the RC Program. They think it’s, “Oh, something bad has happened to me. This is the guy I go and complain to.” Yes, that’s true, but what you guys are really missing the boat on is that we are here to help you. Yeah, we’re here to fix things when they go wrong, but we are a resource that needs you guys to talk to us. You want to go to a GP for your first time? Talk to me. You want to be an L2? Talk to me. You’re an L0 and you want to be an L1? Talk to me. You are working for a Tournament Organizer for the first time and you don’t know how to discuss compensation that is fair? Talk to me. Any question that you have about the judge program, use the regional coordinators, that is what they are there for. Use us. Not just me, but whoever it is in your region, use your regional coordinator.
And last, but certainly not least, if you could be creature, what would your creature type be?