2011 was a GREAT year for NARCh. I made a point to hit the road as much as I could and visited places that I haven’t been to in a while during the regional season, examples being North Carolina and Georgia. I’m very aware that in this tough economy not every team can make it to the NARCh FINALS, so the NARCh Regional Qualifier is sometimes a team’s only NARCh Experience. For this reason we want to make sure that the regional tournament is very memorable for them, and of course we encourage them to get to the NARCh FINALS someday. Anyone that’s played NARCh knows that the regional tourneys are fun and all, but there’s just nothing like playing in the FINALS.
The NARCh FINALS this year were absolutely incredible. I still can’t get over how successful of an event it was. I have a different barometer of success than most I’m sure. To some, it’s about winning, to others it’s about the overall experience. To me it’s about the experience of course, but the most important component of that are the games themselves. To walk from rink to rink to rink and watch unbelievable finish after unbelievable finish was rewarding beyond words. I couldn’t have written a better script for a tournament. Then of course you add the other wow factors, such as the sponsors going big, the energy in the building, and Germain Arena itself. To have access to such a beautiful facility with such a great staff in a vacation spot is really an ace in the hole for NARCh.
We are constantly trying to raise the bar. With an unbelievable staff of referees, tournament directors, and scorekeepers it’s allowed me to be more creative. I’m so driven to blow people away that I know it drives the people closest to me crazy sometimes. My feeling is that you should walk away from NARCh and know that there’s absolutely no other sporting event that goes through the effort that we do to bring you the best experience possible. I truly believe that we do this. If we don’t in some peoples eyes, at least I can sleep at night knowing that I try my hardest and also have a surrounding staff that tries they’re best. Nobody is perfect, but when we do make a mistake we own up to it and make sure we learn something through the process.
One of the ways we’ve raised the bar is through sharing the NARCh Experience through social media. We started off by doing a regional recap video from each qualifier, which wasn’t easy. Then at the FINALS we did a recap video every single day, as well as skills videos, and a few highlight videos, over 35 in all. I’m very proud of these videos and think that it’s made the players featured in them proud that we’ve captured their accomplishments. They’ve also served as a tool to show people that might not be aware of NARCh what it’s all about to play in the event. If you haven’t explored the videos, please take some time to do so on our Youtube channel at: http://www.youtube.com/narchplayers. Trust me, I’m not content with what we pulled off last year, so I’m excited to top that and have some exciting plans in the works that I feel confident will get players and parents even more excited.
If the 2012 WINTERNATIONALS Registrations are any indication of the year to come, it’s going to be another great one. We have more teams signed up for WINTERNATIONALS than we ever have since we’ve gone to a one-weekend event. I’ve had some great conversations with some parents that still love to come watch their kids play. The neat part is that they’re kids are now adults! They remember me from when their kids were small and are kind of in shock that I’m still doing this. That’s always a cool conversation.
Then there’s the other side of it, being the youngest ages. These new parents and kids have no idea of what roller hockey used to be like, they just know the here and now. A lot of people live in the past and think roller hockey was way better back in the day. Things are always bigger and better when reflecting back, right? In my humble opinion the sport is better now. It’s evolved and there’s much more stability.
It’s exciting to see rink owners, new volunteers, and new parents involved. Everyone has put a more concentrated effort into growing the sport at the younger ages and getting more people excited. For this reason we’ve seen an increase in numbers. At last years WINTERNATIONALS we had a total of 13 teams between the atom(8u) and mite(10) divisions. This year in those same two divisions we have a total of 24 teams! That’s substantial growth, and it’s awesome to put a medal around the neck of a first-timer.
To sum things up, I’m very pleased with the last year and the direction we’re going, not only as a business owner but also as a fan and player. I’d like to wish everyone a Happy New Year and we hope to see you in San Jose or at another tournament very soon!