Meet the guys who organize those large-scale events you love – and meet the winner of Sheldie’s contest!

First of all, congratulations to Daniel Lawver of Mesa, Arizona, on submitting the 500th question to”Ask the Judge.” For his lucky effort (which involved Flagbearers), Daniel will receive an Armadillo Cloak signed by all the participants in the first Multiplayer Invitational (Michelle Bush, Randy Buehler, Chad Ellis, Anthony Alongi, Ferrett, and me). Something akin to congratulations go out to Steve Goble for winning the who-submitted-the-most-questions not-a-contest. Steve has told me I can expect a meal, but the massage is out of the question.

In this, the final installment of a three-part series, we’ll introduce you to some of the folks whose faces and names you might not recognize, but do hard a good deal of hard work on your behalf. It takes a titanic effort to put on major events. The Organized Play folks I’ve met so far are oustanding people and outstanding professionals. Trust me, you’re extremely lucky to have them in your corner. You’ve met the Judges, now let’s meet the Staff.

I’m going to start with one of my favorite people in the world, the Senior Manager of Organized Play Events, Diana Johns. Literate, well-read, smart, and iron-willed, Diana’s background in theater production has served her well in putting on the Big Show. A while back, she suggested to me”Germs, Guns, and Steel,” a fascinating read well worth picking up. Unfortunately, she’s so busy that we rarely have more than a few minutes to chat.

If you see Diana at an event, you’re likely to see her talking to Jerry Rubin. Jerry isn’t a WotC employee, he’s a contractor. Without him, the show doesn’t go on. If it needs to be built, Jerry can build it. If it needs to be fixed, Jerry can fix it. From hanging lighting to rewiring the building, Jerry can do it all. He’s recently surpassed James Brown as the official Hardest Working Man in Show Business.

Protocol demands that I mention Chris Galvin next; not just because he’s my friend, but because he’s recently been promoted to Director of Organized play, making him a”suit.” Chris is a huge baseball fan, an adroit storyteller, and has been known to enjoy a pint of lager every now and again. He’s also directly responsible for me hating Magglio Ordonez.

If you’ve been to a US or Canadian Grand Prix, you’ve likely seen or talked to Scott Larabee, the North America Territory Manager. Scott plans and schedules all the Premiere Events, to include GPs, GP Trials, PTQs, and Prereleases. I make sure to plan some of my free time at each major event to hang with Scott. We make an effort have a Magic-free hour or two, but that’s not always possible. In Orlando, I finally got to meet DeeDee, Scott’s wife, and we had a blast at EPCOT.

If you’re a Tournament Organizer, you know Tournament Organizer Liaison Laura Kilgore. She’s the person who works hard to ensure you get your product on time. In Orlando, she introduced me to Churros. All I can say is”some good.” One of the most energetic people I know, Laura — all 5 feet 0 of her — is an ex-Marine. I’ll just say that I’m always sure to file my paperwork on time.

Speaking of balls of energy, Mass Market Game Event Manager Jaime West is WotC’s version of the Energizer Bunny. I’ve never seen someone work so hard all day and still have the gas to go all night. I’ve seen her do a full day and then help out on overnight Side Events for several more hours. The day after this year’s US Nationals, when the rest of us were still lethargic from the show, Jaime cruise-directed our trip to Universal Studios and made sure we all had a good time.

As her title indicates, Pro Tour Show Manager Rene Roub runs the event at the Pro Tour. Between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., she has a radio glued to her hand, making sure everything goes the way it’s supposed to. Another of many engaging conversationalists on the team, I’m always happy to get the opportunity to hoist a pint with Rene after a long day at the event.

I’ve never met Sanctioning Manager Linda Roberts in person, but I’ve exchanged enough email with her to be suitably impressed with her. I can’t begin to count the number of times she’s gone out of her way to help me out with one issue or another. I hope she makes it to a show sometime soon.

One of the nicest people you’ll ever meet is Player Appeals Coordinator John Grant. I have to admire John’s ability to listen to people bitch at him all day and still be pleasant afterward. I had the pleasure of sitting next to John at the last staff dinner and having a great time.

Orlando was the first time that I got to know Pro Tour Player Coordinator Andy Heckt, when he and his wife Ingrid joined us on our trek to Disney’s attractions. Andy is the guy that ensures the players have everything they need for the event. If you’re a PT player, I suggest finding Andy at the next event and saying thanks.

You can’t talk about the Pro Tour without talking about the only person to have attended them all, Skaff. Skaff has a last name (Elias), and a title (VP of Events R&D) – but like Madonna and Prince, he transcends needing either. You probably know him from running the now-legendary overnight Side Events. One of my favorite people to have a deep conversation with, Skaff knows the words to all the Simpsons songs, as demonstrated at Worlds 2000. I also hear he’s a pretty fair basketball player. One of these days, I’ll remember my kicks and do my best Billy Ho impersonation for him.

Last time, I promised to mention former DCI Policy Manager Elaine Chase, who’s now a member of R&D. Elaine is absolutely one of the best Judges I’ve seen in action. I expect her R&D duties will keep her away from working a lot of events. It’s our loss.

Mel Smith is a non-employee who contracts to work Side Events rather frequently. Unfortunately for us, Mel and her husband Sean have to return to Canada. I’ll miss that mischevious twinkle in her eye and biting sense of humor.

Last, and certainly not least, is Worldwide Judge Certification Manager James Do Hung Lee. James is a fascinating individual who I got to know while making the thirty-plus hour return trip from Brussels last year. James is an ordained minister and certified counselor who has stepped out of the pulpit to aid the rest of us along our path to enlightenment.

There are a number of other people in the Organized Play family that I haven’t mentioned, simply because I haven’t had the opportunity to get to know them yet. If they’re anything like the the rest of the team, it’ll be my distinct pleasure.

Actually, there’s one more Premiere Event staff member I’d like to mention: My wife Lisa. Lisa’s not an employee, she’s a volunteer, but they don’t come any better. She ran the whole Side Event show at major events in Europe for a couple of years, and you’re likely to see her working at the Big Show sometime soon. Rest assured that she’s been invited on her own merits, not because she’s married to me. To wit, she’s working Pro Tour New York, and I’m not. She’s one of the hardest-working, organized, and efficient people you’ll ever meet. Premiere Events are lucky to have her. And so am I.

And that’s my Final Judgement.

Sheldon K. Menery