2011 Nationals: Behind the Scenes!

by Thom Van Vleck

If it wasn't for my wife Kelly, we would have missed out on the cake!

If you’ve ever run a meet before you know the work that is involved in it and how “Murphy’s Law” can and will apply.  I thought I would share a few of the “behind the scenes” stories.

The Venue Change

Some time ago I had secured the Rieger Armory for our meet.  This is the home of our local Army National Guard.  It is a great venue and I was pleased to get it.  Plus, it had air conditioning!   Two weeks out I called up to “confirm” the date and the time I could start moving things in.  It was at this time I found out they were on their annual two weeks of active duty.  I left a message to call me back.  The Tuesday before the meet I got the call and I found out they were being put on “standby” due to flooding and they were “commandeering” the armory!  At that point, the scramble was on.  I had several back ups, but the big issue you run into with more of the better locations is insurance.  I used to hold things on city owned property and they would sponsor the event and we would fall under their umbrella coverage….but no more (I suppose a special thanks goes to frivolous lawsuits).  As I made calls and found most were already booked, I narrowed it down to two places.  One with air conditioning that would basically be like lifting in a warehouse (it was an auction house) or the Willard School Gym where we ended up which had no air conditioning.  I checked the long range forecast and saw a high of 77 with a low of 59 the night before.  I borrowed a huge fan and rolled the dice.  The next weekend the forecast was for mid 90’s and that gym would have been miserable!  That worked out great in the end.  It was not the first time I lost my venue last minute….probably not the last….always have a back up plan!!!

The Shirts

I love Sunbrite laundry.  The Hettinger family that runs it have been really good to me, it’s one of the few family owned, locally owned business in Kirksville and I try to keep as many of my $$$ locally as I can.  But Josh Hettinger always seems to run up until the last minute with the shirts I order from him.  I have to say this, he ALWAYS comes thru…..but he has to admit….he did bring the shirts in Saturday morning and that gives the meet director high blood pressure.  The first event I EVER ran my shirt guy (not Sunbrite….this guy later went our of business and for good reason) showed up at NOON with my shirts and they were screwed up.  This was after me going by repeatedly trying to proof them and get him to get them done.  ”Checks in the Mail” comes to mind!

The Awards

For the last several years I have bought 2lb anvils from Grizzly tools.  They were unique awards and symbolic of Grandpa Jackson’s anvil that led to my grandfather starting his weightlifting career in the first place.  I went to order more and found out they were no longer selling them!  So I scrambled on the internet to find a replacement and finally did.  However, when I ordered them they were placed on back order!  The sales rep assured me I’d have them on time for the meet (again “Checks in the mail” comes to mind) and sure enough a few days before the meet they came in!  This did not help my blood pressure!

The Cake

This was pretty minor compared to the other things, but my wife suggested we make a “USAWA” cake for the banquet.  I liked the idea and had Al send me the USAWA logo digital file.  He had no idea what I was going to do with it, I thought it would be a nice surprise.  Well, I forgot to order it!  After all, I was already worried about the venue, shirts, and awards!   So, my wife jumped in and took charge and literally ordered the cake on Saturday morning!  She picked it up that afternoon!  Clutch play on her part.

Last minute equipment issues

I had in my mind using some 1″ bars I had for the DB Snatch.  Al called me and said he assumed I had some Oly style handles.  I did not so he stopped at a sporting goods store in Topeka to pick a couple up.  The thick bar was one Al had made and was too heavy for some to open with.  So I sent John O’Brien on a quick run home to get a lighter one that I had meant to bring, but forgot.  I think I sent him a “list” of things to get, but you always seem to forget something!

The Weather

Those that were there will recall that right before the meet started that a storm blew in.  It was not a bad storm but it had plenty of lightning and was dumping ran like crazy.  I had a couple people who were not from the midwest kind of concerned about tornadoes and rightfully so.  But then the roof started to leak!!!!  I had visions of the roof starting to leak all over and ruining the meet!  The funny part is that I run a lot of outdoor strongman and Highland Games….I was thinking before hand that the weather would be no concern since we were inside!  Boy, was I wrong.  Luckily, the ran stopped and so did the leaky roof!

Other than that…haha….the meet ran fine!  I considered it a success and I hope those attended had a great experience!  Again, you never pull these things off alone and if I didn’t have an understanding wife first and foremost, this would never have happened.

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