Hello! My name is David Maddox and I am a Level 2 judge from Thomasville, GA. One of the hardest parts about judging for me is finding the time to judge at various events. I own my own business, and often have to work Saturday mornings, the prime time for Magic Competitive REL events. In fact, at first I did not want to test for L2 for this reason, and it took some pushing from Ben McDole (Thanks Ben!) to take the test. I heard of all these judges doing all of these wonderful things in our region, and I just felt that I had no time extra to even come close to do what I had seen other judges from our region were doing. Over time however, I have found a few avenues to stay active in the judging community while maybe not being on the floor answering calls.
Join a project
At a judge dinner in 2015, Bryan Prillaman was a lead in the Judge Twitter project, and had mentioned that they were looking for some new people to join the project and work on posting to the official Judge Twitter account. I wasn’t a fairly active Twitter poster, but I did read Twitter a fair amount, and interacted with various people, so I decided to throw my name into the mix. I was added to the Facebook group, and was explained to how/why we were to post, and what the goal of the project was. It seemed pretty straightforward, but what I found was that in the group chat, half of the time we talked directly about the Twitter account, but the other half, we were talking about issues that came up at events, how they were handled, rules questions, WER questions, and even general life questions. It gave me the opportunity to interact with judges from across the United States, as well as judges from other parts of the world. I learned about other cultures, and also got to explain some of mine through the interactions I gained in doing a project. There is a whole list of projects that can be found on JudgeApps that you can apply for and get involved with. It gave me a sense of connection with other judges I had never met with.
Lead a local group
Other than judging, when I began working more often, I moved 40 minutes away from my LGS I called home. I did not get to interact with my friends and fellow judges as I had in the past. Myself and Benjamin Bloodworth were looking at expanding the number of judges in the Tallahassee area, but I was not sure how I could help since I was not going to be able to go to the store all of the time. We created a Facebook group specifically for training and educating judges in our local area. We asked in our local groups for anyone who was interested in judging to join, and we would post questions for practice, as well as discussions on things that actually happened at events. We were also able to organize judges for local events like prereleases and PPTQs. So far we have had at least 10 people start their journey in being a judge from this group, and 2 of them are looking into moving up to L2 in the future. I may not have been able to be at as many events, but I was able to help out those who were.
When you can go, GO!
This seems pretty straightforward, but how many times have you weighed the options of playing in an event versus judging in an event? How many times have you considered, “Hey, maybe I could teach a seminar at the next conference?” Even this article, I had seen many requests for people to write a topic for the judge blog, and I said in my head, “I think I could do that,” but then never really got around to it. If you have the opportunity, take it! I was never really a quote kind of guy, but I always enjoyed, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” If you have an opportunity to work with fellow judges, you need to try. My complaint was always that I didn’t have enough time, when in reality, I really didn’t make the time.
If you’re worried that you don’t have the time it takes it be a judge, or maybe you just didn’t have the time you once did, there are a variety of opportunities for you if you know where to look. These are just a few of the ones that I have had personal experiences with. If you have been down on judging, or just not sure where to go, talk to your local leaders, or look at some of the options I presented above. Write an article. Teach a seminar at a conference. Talk to someone you met through judging and see what they’re involved with. Judging is about being a mentor and leader in your communities, and that doesn’t have to be done on the floor of a GP. It can happen anywhere. I hope that this encourages some of you who have been looking for other ways to interact with other judges at large. Maybe we’ll be able to work together sometime!