Megan Holden

Hello Judges! This week’s Judge of the Week is a rockstar judge from California who bears a great passion for the community and especially its minorities.

Megan HoldenName: Megan Holden
Level: 2
Location: Fresno, California, USA
Judge start date: L1 since March 17 2017, L2 since September 6 2017
Favorite card: Voracious Dragon
Least favorite card: Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Favorite format: Legacy
Commander General: Krenko, Mob Boss
Favorite non-Magic Game: Takenoko
Best tournament result: 4-0 in a Modern tournament
Random fact about yourself: I want to own chickens someday.

Why do you Judge?
At first it was to just get better at the rules, now I think a lot of it has to do with the community. Being a judge has helped me become a better person in a lot of ways and that’s still something that I’m experiencing. This is also a game I’m very passionate about, and I like being apart of the community that helps it succeed.

You were nominated for your exceptional work and care for the community, from helping players interested in judging to providing valuable feedback to your peers. Your enthusiasm is also greatly manifested by your leadership of The Collected Company Mentorship Project (together with Megan Linscott). The motto of your project is taken from the flavor text of the Collected Company card: “Many can stand where one would fall”. Could you share the story of the project and introduce it to those who have not yet heard about it?
Sure, so The Collected Company Mentorship Project was founded by Megan Linscott and myself with the goal of connecting women judges with other women. One thing I found when I joined the Judge Program was that the closest female judge to me was nearly 4 hours away, it was up to my initiative to message that person out of the blue, introduce myself and hope they responded. Which anyone can certainly do, but as a lot of new L1’s will probably tell you, there’s this largely unspoken reverence towards L2’s/L3’s and more senior judges in general. We recognized that not all judges may be comfortable initiating that sort of communication with someone they don’t know. So creating an easy way to introduce judges to each other was one of our primary goals in all of this.

Collected Company is designed to be a welcoming space that helps to educate and create community in the Judge Program in its minority populations. We aim to bring together the underrepresented sects of our community which includes women, transgender men, non-binary folks, and others. We connect our members for one-on-one mentorship coupling that with our community Slack channel and Facebook group, we form together to grow personally and as a community.

The next step for CoCo is to improve our processes and to get better. My hope for the next year is that CoCo can become a place for the LGBTQ community and other minorities to come together in support of each other, more so than it is now because we absolutely have room for improvement. By bringing small groups together, we have a much louder voice. This is why we chose Collected Company as our name, “Many can stand where one would fall”, by bringing people together we can support each other and be stronger as a whole versus as individuals.

What has been your favourite Magic event that you’ve judged?
GP Phoenix, I reached a lot of milestones at that event.

Speaking of milestones, your certification history (reaching L2 in less than 6 months) is quite an exceptional achievement. I suppose it requires a tremendous amount of dedication and willpower to do that. Could you share how it all came to be? It may bring inspiration to others.
There were a couple of reasons for this… At the time, my area was suffering from a lot of L2’s feeling burnt out so I knew there was a void that needed to be filled and quickly. Plus I already knew that my goal was to be judging GPs and PPTQs and back then being an L2 meant you got paid more at a GP so it was also to make it more economically feasible.

As far as what made it possible, it involved the realization that others had already done it quickly before me so it was a road well trod. Between studying for L1 and L2 I think I studied close to every single day for a whole year to make it happen and I was constantly in the IRC Ask A Judge Chat either asking my own questions or working on answering others’. The thing that helped me get there the most was working with other judges to be honest. Seeing how others answered rules questions, and you get a lot of the same questions in there so at a certain point you answer the same question so many times you’re practically reciting from the CR.

Any time I talk about this though, and a lot of other judges who did it quickly tend to say the same thing too, is I hope this doesn’t put pressure on anyone or serve as inspiration to try and do it as quickly as you can. I have weaknesses others don’t because I haven’t had time to grow as a judge yet. But I may have strengths another L2 doesn’t and they may have been an L1 for 3 years. Becoming L2 is a different path for every person but definitely don’t hold yourself back just because you feel your number of years as a judge is too small. How long it took you to get there doesn’t make the achievement of becoming an L2 any better or worse.

Megan Holden, Angela Chandler, Meghan Baum
Megan having fun with her Regional Coordinator Angela Chandler and Meghan Baum

What is your favorite non-judging moment that happened with other Judges (or after event story)?
So last year at GP Oklahoma City, I was with a couple of judges from Southern California and we were looking for this restaurant and we just could not find it. We got a little lost and eventually had to get on this back alley elevator to get where we wanted. Once it got to the top though, it started shaking up and down Tower of Terror style like it was going to drop, and on top of that the doors wouldn’t open. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this Disneyland ride, Tower of Terror is an elevator ride that climbs to the top, shakes up and down before free falling to the bottom. So literally, the only thing I could think of was “Oh my god we’re going to drop and die.” Angela had to spam the “Open Door” button 30 seconds before the doors finally opened, the elevator still shaking the whole time, and we all just fell out and proceeded to laugh uncontrollably for the next 2 minutes. Absolutely terrifying in the moment, but one of those look back and laugh memories.

What challenges have you faced or are you facing to become a better judge, and how have you worked to overcome them?
Learning how to fail. Studying for L1 was more than just learning the rules and JAR, it was learning how to be wrong and how to do that without getting defensive. Something I used to struggle with much more than I do now. It was so bad that I would actually get an adrenaline response anytime I would get a rules question wrong. The judges in the IRC Ask A Judge Chat room are extremely patient and knowledgeable, being able to ask questions there was invaluable in my growth as a judge.

Who have been some of your biggest mentors in the Judge Program?
Megan Linscott, Riki Hayashi and Eliana Rabinowitz.

What positive aspects has the Judge Program contributed to your everyday life?
Where do I start… friends, learning what it means to be a leader, learning how to fail, it has helped me value myself more. I’ve seen parts of the world I never would have otherwise and I’ve met some of the most amazing people, I don’t know what I would do without them now.

What motivates you to continue being a Judge? What are you looking up to in your Judge future?
The community is a big motivating factor. I’ve done some heavy lifting this last year, now it’s time to apply the brakes a bit and focus on growing the Collected Company project and give myself time to mature as an L2. I’ve also been given the role of Area Coordinator over Northern California just recently, so helping develop the area is also a big goal for this next year.

What is one tip you have for other Judges?
A lot of people are great at knowing when something is missing or wrong in their community. It’s good that we have people that recognize when those gaps exist, but we need more people that try and fill those gaps. If you see something missing in your area, or in the Judge Program, don’t wait for someone else to take care of the problem or give you a title. Go do it. Don’t tell yourself “I’m not ready” “I’m too new”, if you’re experienced enough to recognize a problem, you’re experienced enough to help find a solution. Run it by your local leadership. See what their responses are and if they think your solution is a good idea, run with it.

Megan Holden sitting as a feature match judge
Megan Holden as a feature match judge at Grand Prix Portland 2017

Proudest moment of your Judge life?
GP Oklahoma City 2017, it was Cascade’s last GP for the immediate future and I was asked to HJ their last PTQ. It was an extremely humbling experience, Cascade Games was the first to give me a chance at GP Denver earlier that year and for them to put that trust in me like they did, it’s hard to express how that felt. I had John Temple on my team and while it was nice that I had an L3 that would be there to catch me if I fell, what was better is that it was never needed. We managed to work around staffing problems, a bunch of Outside Assistance Game Losses during construction, a lot of investigations, and still managed to have a solid event. I learned a lot at this event, but the fact that it was both a learning opportunity and I still managed to run a solid event is why I’m so proud looking back on it.

What is your favorite non-Magic hobby?
Between family and my son, Magic is really the only hobby I have time for to be honest. It used to be horseback riding but I recently had to sell my horse. Having a kid takes up a lot of your free time, who knew.

What would you be doing now if Magic no longer existed?
My first thought was I’d have more money in my savings account but no, I’d probably just get back into horses.

How did you get involved in Magic in the first place?
My friends pulled me in and away from my Warhammer 40k mini’s painting. I used to sit in a corner painting, completely surrounded by Magic players during FNM and they eventually guilted me into trying it.

What’s the biggest rule-breaking play you’ve ever made as a player?
I used to be terrible with rules knowledge when I first started playing… it was so bad that the local judges all knew to just routinely watch my games to make sure I wasn’t accidentally breaking a rule somewhere.

If you could chat with one person, real or fictional, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
The 10th Doctor, because I think it would be a fantastic conversation.

If you were a Planeswalker what would be your ultimate?
It would somehow involve dragons and goblins… that’s as far as I can get to an answer.

If you were a creature what would be your creature type?

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’d just want to send big thank you to my mentors and everyone that I’ve had the privilege of working with this last year.

Two Truths and a Lie
Two of the following statements are true and one is false. Figure out which!

  1. I wanted to name my son Texas Holden.
  2. I have never seen the Godfather.
  3. I like gelato.
The answer to the last Two Truths and a Lie...
Kaitlin McLachlan never was a competitive swimmer.

If there is a judge who is also doing something exemplary, please nominate a judge TODAY!

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