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Fun Fong Article

Postponement of the 1st Annual Rex Demers Individual / Team Scholastic Championship — Blow by Blow

By Fun Fong, GCA President

It is with a heavy heart that due to circumstances beyond my control we were not able to hold the 1st Annual Rex Demers Individual/Team Scholastic Championship. We are POSTPONING this event until April 15 (Saturday).  Current registrants may request a refund at any time.  Any registrants who would like their memberships activated before this event may do so, requesting activation 72 hours before it is needed.

It is always a bit of a test when an organization tries out a new venue.  We had been evaluating the Elks Club for approximately a year and had conducted talks with them over several months.  The Elks Club looks promising as it has the capacity to handle a Saturday 150-player scholastic tournament, a Saturday 170-player open events tournament, or a weekend 50-player open events tournament.  A series of proposals and negotiations ensued over a few months.  Finally, GCA Life Member Claus Friese stepped up to the plate and said that he would cover the rental fee for a number of GCA events to be held at the Elks Lodge.

We had scheduled a January event at the Elks Lodge but rescheduled until May because of weather issues.  We scheduled two events afterwards: our Rex Demers Memorial Scholastic event on March 11, and our “21 and Over” event on May 20.

I had dinner with the Elks one Friday evening about two weeks ago and managed to speak to their Exalted Leader, their planning coordinator, our contact person, and Clause Friese all at the same time.  I discussed our exact needs with the planning coordinator and communicated clearly what we needed in a tournament hall, food needs, and a Skittles area.  I thought we were set.

We were notified by text at 3:30 pm Friday, March 10 — the afternoon before the event — that we may have lost our venue space. Our contact person had been ill for the last few days, and whispered that the Elks had moved our event to a hotel. To the Elks’ credit, they attempted to transfer us to another nearby hotel, but they did not realize that their selected hotel could not physically accommodate us. That hotel did try to locate us to other hotels, but sales departments closed before we could successfully locate a backup venue. Around 5:30 pm, we were left with no other options except to reschedule at the same venue.

We are postponing this event until April 15, when the Elks Lodge is available once again. Claus Friese, both a GCA life member and an influential Elks member, has been secured the date.

I apprised our Board and our registration team (Tara Kelly and Amrita Kumar) when our hand was forced.  Within an hour, the Board immediately consented to the alternate date and began notifying players and our members on our website and on our Facebook page.  They also emailed all of the registrants and called our out-of-town players to notify them personally.  I am thankful to have a dedicated, hardworking team who can swiftly make the difficult decisions and then carry out the defined action plan.  We have a wonderful, giving group of volunteer leaders!

I notified John Demers, the surviving brother of Rex Demers, about our decision to postpone.  His wife communicated to me that he had been ill for two days, and was happy to know of the postponement.  He plans to attend.

I attempted to get to the venue site today and place signage explaining our postponement.  I was blocked completely by a road race which had started very near our venue site.  It was the first time I had ever seen an interstate off-ramp blocked by a road race.  Expect the unexpected:  there always seem to be unique considerations when considering any new venue site!

We will keep these two currently scheduled events at the Elks Lodge: the “21 and Over” event and the Rex Demers Individual/Team Scholastic Championship.  We will evaluate the venue again after holding these events.

It is frustrating for many people whenever an organization is thwarted from holding a scheduled, publicized event.  It is annoying to players, to our volunteers, officials, and leaders, and all who have set aside time for these events and now must look for an alternate activity.

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