Transcript for the NAFA® Candidate Chat October 26th, 2010

moderatorWelcome to the 2010 Nafa Candidate Chat #2. This evening’s chat is one venue for voters to get to know our candidates a little more. If you have any questions for our candidates, please send them to the moderator to be queued. You can do this by double clicking “moderator” and sending a private chat (or selecting “moderator,” right clicking, and selecting “private Chat”). Questions that are queued will be placed into the main window one at a time. I will let you know when your question is on the floor. The person that posted the question is welcome to follow up with the candidates as they answer. Any other Directly Related inquiries can also go into the main window as the candidates are answering. If you're in doubt if it is Directly Related, please ask me.
moderatorAt this time I'll let the candidates send an opening remark if they'd like.
moderatorYour moderator tonight is Leerie Jenkins.
moderatorThere is one question in the queue at this time.
Christine.VanWertGood evening all. I want to thank everyone for joining in the chat this evening and I hope that we can continue to build on all the positive things that we began in the last chat.
moderatorIf you have any questions for our candidates, please send them to the moderator to be queued.
Curtis_SmithI'm very pleased to be here for the second candidate chat, and to be given another opportunity to connect with folks who care about the future of Nafa. My hopes are to convince prospective voters that my unique combination of qualities would be a welcome asset to the Board. As a researcher--both during my doctoral work and in my present job as a Research Professional--i have learned to hone my analytical skills as a problem-solver while remaining subjective throughout the process. I analyze situations carefully before coming to any important decisions. Also, as many flyball folks from across the continent can attest to, I am a very approachable, open-minded, and hard-working person. If given the chance to prove it, I'm convinced that I would do an outstanding job as a member of Nafa's Board of Directors.
Eric_FosterGood evening and thanks for participating in the chat tonight. I first want to say that Can Am was a blast!! It was great interacting with so many people in whom I had never met who have the same passion for this sport. A special thanks to all the leadership as well as judges who made the event run so smoothly. Myself and my team (harddrive #843) have already blocked out the time for Can Am next year. Finally a special thanks to the ladies from the Ruffnecks fromtexas whom let me and my pup Sumo run with them in the open division.
moderatorOur first question: Linda_bullard: Hi, a few of the candidate nominations state either being a judge, a judge in training and/or reading judges discussion archives (which are not available to the general flybal public) as part of their qualifications. Do the candidates believe that judges are better qualified to serve on the board than non-judges? Yes or No & Why? thank you.
moderatorThere are no other questions in the queue at this time. If you have any questions for our candidates, please send them to the moderator to be queued.
moderatorThere are two questions in the queue at this time.
moderatorHopefully Ally Stern will join us shortly. She is apparently having some technical difficulties. Dave Walt is unable to make tonight's chat.
moderatorThere are three questions in the queue at this time.
Christine.VanWertWell, no. I'm not a judge but, if I believed that Judges were more qualified to serve on the Nafa Board, I would not have accepted the nomination. In my opinion, Nafa is Best served by a Board filled with diversity in thought. Just like a baseball team has nine positions, all requiring different talents, the Nafa Board will best serve our organization by having members who represent different views on the flyball spectrum. Team players, Team Captains, Judges, Fast Teams, Slower Teams. Teams that measure success not by winning but, simply by competing. We All need to work together to expand flyball's presence and promote Nafa flyball.
Curtis_SmithPersonally, I think it's best to have as much diversity as possible on the Board, which means Directors who are Head Judges along with others who are not, men and women, people from fast teams, and people from slow teams, etc. That being said, I also think it's important to have some representation by Head Judges on the Board--especially to serve as members of the Rules and/or Judges Committees. Judges tend to be more familiar with the Rules of Racing and the Bylaws than others, and as I already mentioned, it pays to have perspectives from as many different types of people as possible on the Board.
Eric_FosterI don't feel that it is a needed thing to be a judge to be on on the Board. I do however feel that knowing the rules forwards and backwards is a a huge advantage. It makes a participant of the Board a effective leader in this sport. I feel that the ability to answer questions pertaining to any issue within the rules as well as being available to any participant to help solve the issue at hand is very important.
moderatorOur next question: Linda_bullard: Have the candidates ever presented a proposal to the Bod for consideration? What was it, did it pass or fail and why?
Linda_BullardDoes anyone know how many judges are already on the Bod right now? Thanks.
moderator4 out of 9 spots currently held by judges.
moderator2 of them will be rolling off this time.
Christine.VanWertI think that I am every bit as familiar with the rules of Racing, Corporate Policies & Procedures and the By-laws as anyone who is a Head Judge. You do not need to be a Hj to have an understanding of Nafa's rules.
Curtis_SmithMost of my interaction with the Board in the past dealt with issues and proposals related to getting flyball established in Alaska, during which time the Board and the Ed were extremely helpful.
Eric_FosterI have had conversations within the Leadership of Nafa about new ideas and new concepts but I haven't currently I haven't officially presented anything.
moderatorThere are 4 questions in the queue at this time.
Christine.VanWertYes..a few times. I proposed certificates to be awarded to the top three finishers in Regional Championships (regular & Multi) in all the Regions. That passed. I also proposed a system to divide the lower divisions so that they could compete for Regional Championships based on their level of play. The Board could not agree on a way to implement this idea. After Cynosports, I revised my original proposal for the Regions and suggested an adaptation for the nationals instead. It was not adopted as I proposed but, it was the reason (I was told) the Board incorporated the word "champions" for all first place winners in all Divisions at Cynosports/canam. I also recently sent to Nafa a By-laws proposal to revise the formula for earning delegates. The Board will consider this proposal sometime in the next twelve months.
moderatorOur next question: Dede_crough: Please tell us specifically about your non-flyball experience working as part of a team, and what leadership experience you have. What do you think is the most difficult part of working as a member of a group?
Christine.VanWertI have played team sports such as softball. Later, I became coach and manager of that team. I also have worked as a store manager. My first employment was the U.s. Navy which focuses its training on making everybody a leader.
Christine.VanWertI don't think of working with a group as difficult but, there has to come a time when all opinions have been expressed and decision has to be made. For some, it can be difficult to accept the group's decision but, I don't have any problem with that.
Dede_CroughAnd by the way, "team" doesn't necessarily mean sports, it could be a corporate team, working with a community group, etc.
Curtis_SmithI am part of a team of researchers at my job where it's necessary to work together in order to submit grants for funding. It can often be very stressful as dealines approach, yet we work extremely well together. Part of my job also includes supervising a Research Assistant and leading several projects that involve numerous members of our team.
Christine.VanWertSports is just the first thing that comes to my mind. Every position I have ever held in employment has implemented a team concept for management.
Curtis_SmithThe most difficult part of working as a member of a group is realizing that there will always be differences in opinion and that compromises will always be required. Tact and diplomacy are hard skills to master.
Eric_FosterMy background is in marketing and design. I believe that my experince in large forum events as well as interacting with clients and vendors also plays a part. I feel as though the leadership part of this question is interesting. I know myself well enough to know that I work very well as a sragent to a captain. I can put a plan into motion based on the task at hand. I also function well as a leader. My current occupation requires me to be mindful of my entire crew's safety. Leadership should fall where the experience is most effective. A true leader is teachable..... staying flexible is key.
moderatorOur next question: Ruth_vanwert: I would like the candidates to state how long they have participated in Flyball and how has this experience prepared you to serve on the Bod?
moderatorThere are three questions in the queue at this time.
Christine.VanWertI have played flyball with my own dogs for at least ten years but, I have been "involved" as long as maybe twentyfive years. Helping a team host tournaments and always being there to help when called upon. This has prepared me by making me aware of flyball's long and colorful history and giving me an understanding as the the reason many of our Rules exist. It also gives me a deep appreciation for the growth and eveolution of flyball. nobody would ever have dreamed of an event of the magnitude of the Canam 25 years ago.
Curtis_SmithI trained my first flyball dog back in 1998(?) at a local training facility, but I was unfortunately not aware of Nafa at that point. Then in 2002, while going to school in Nc, my wife and I joined Doggonefast and we were instantly hooked. Since then, I've been active in Nafa as a competitor, Team Captain, and a Head Judge--all of which provide unique perspectives that will help me serve on the Board.
Christine.VanWertBeing aware of history also helps me to imagine where continued growth of flyball will take us into the future.
Dede_CroughChris, what changes do you envision for flyball in 5 years?
Eric_FosterWell, I have been involved for quite some time now. I do feel that the level of the involvement is the true gauge. I feel that the commitment to the sport is compared to skydiving..... you have to jump in with both feet to get the most out of the experience.
moderatorOur next question: Sharon.macsween: Knowing the rules of flyball is extremely important but holding a tournament or being involved in the planning/hosting a tournaement is equally or even more important (as many issues that face Nafa such as Ejs management are experienced). Can you please explain your experience with tournament hosting and how you think this would enhance your job as a Bod? Thank you
Ruth_VANWERTEric can you define "some time"?
moderatorIf you have any questions for our candidates, please send them to the moderator to be queued. You can do this by double clicking “moderator” and sending a private chat (or selecting “moderator,” right clicking, and selecting “private Chat”). Questions that are queued will be placed into the main window one at a time. I will let you know when your question is on the floor. The person that posted the question is welcome to follow up with the candidates as they answer. Any other Directly Related inquiries can also go into the main window as the candidates are answering. If you're in doubt if it is Directly Related, please ask me.
moderatorThere are 2 questions in the queue at this time.
Eric_FosterSure Ruth.... four and half years. How long have you been in the sport?
Christine.VanWertWell....we have 22 Regions at present. I can see 25 regions a reasonable prospect. I think we might see as many as 500 events sanctioned. Maybe at least 11,000 team entries. All within reason given Nafa history.
Ruth_VANWERTBefore Nafa since 1979 I was part of Aadtc and did demonstrations in Flyball
Margaret_LyonsStart typing here
Eric_Fosterwow....good for you Ruth.
Eric_FosterGlad you are with us
kim.davisAlly Stern-kolesnikow is having difficulties joining the chat tonight and sends her regrets for not being able to attend. Alisa Romaine also cannot join tonight.
kim.davisDave Walt also is unable to attend tonight's chat.
moderatorThe question on the floor is: Knowing the rules of flyball is extremely important but holding a tournament or being involved in the planning/hosting a tournaement is equally or even more important (as many issues that face Nafa such as Ejs management are experienced). Can you please explain your experience with tournament hosting and how you think this would enhance your job as a Bod?
Curtis_SmithDuring my years in Nc, I helped Doggonefast host each of their tournaments soaking up all the info we needed to host Alaska's first flyball tournament in June 2006. To date, Alaska Dogs Gone Wild has hosted nine tournament weekends and we're the only team to have hosted a tournament in our region.
moderatorThere are 3 questions in the queue at this time.
Sharon.MacSweenHow do you feel your experience with tournament hosting will enhance your position as a Bod? Please be specific and address one of the issues that currently face the Bod, ie Ejs shipping costs
Christine.VanWertMy experience with hosting mainly lies in learning how difficult it is choosing a date that does not interfere with neighboring events. Lining up bodies to help and renting a good venue. That and with all the stars in proper alignment, you may be can host a tournament. To date, my club has not successfully hosted an event but, I'll keep trying...
Curtis_SmithAs a Board member, my experience with hosting tournaments will help me grow the sport. I believe some regions would benefit greatly if more tournaments were offered, and I can provide plenty of (what I think would be) useful advice to help faciliate the process.
Christine.VanWertShipping Costs and damages to Ejs due to shipping are all a challenge faced by this Bod. Investmenet in more units may help alleviate some of these costs but, then you shift spending to capital investments in more Ejs
Eric_FosterThe Ejs that I have set up and used have come to the tourney at times not in great shape. In fact, one specific event the system did not function. I feel as though the purchase of new systems to "park" or to keep in regions is a good one. The shipping costs alone in one year of tourneys could pay for two to three systems alone.
moderatorI'm going to close the questions at this time. We have 5 questions in the queue.
moderatorOur next question: Linda_bullard: If you could change or improve only one thing in Nafa flyball, what would it be, why do you think it is important and how would you accomplish it? Thank you.
Christine.VanWertIts a Cost vs Benefit challenge that never completely ends since Nafa will continue to grow and that will place more demand for Ejs.
moderatorThe next one is pretty short, so I'll go ahead and put it out there as well: shannonseeger: How many different Nafa clubs have you been a member?
Curtis_SmithRecently, there have been significant improvements in communication with Nafa and I commend the present Board members for their hard work behind that particular effort. I would like to propose taking it a step further and use more surveys on a regular basis to keep in touch with what's important to the Nafa community.
Eric_FosterJust two..... Fda and currenlty Harddrive both in Pa.
Christine.VanWertIf I were limited to improve only one thing, it would be to expand the role of Livestreaming flyball on the web. In March, I began an experiment by Livestreaming a local flyball tournament. I wanted to know if there would be any interest tuning into a Local tournament. To my surprise, there was tons of interest. I have Livestreamed 5 tournaments since then and interest has increased tenfold. Now, the ability to Livestream to promote your service or product is Extremely important because of the introduction of Googletv. Googletv allows one to surf the web through your Television from the comfort of your living room. Think about it. Anything that can be Livestreamed on the web that is Flyball can now be replayed through your Tv through the Googletv box. That's why it's Very unfortunate that Both 2009 and 2010 Canam Live Shows are not available at the present time on Dan Phillips Channel. Nafa needs its own dedicated Livestream channel. This would give us total control over content and a platform from which we can sell advertising year-round. We need to do this quickly and I am the candidate with the most experience Livestreaming.
Curtis_SmithWith regard to Shannon's question, I was a member of Doggonefast (region 9, Nc) from 2002-2004 and I've been a member of Alaska Dogs Gone Wild (region 18, Ak) from 2004 to present.
Christine.VanWertDogs listed as owned by me have played on two clubs. Runnin' Ruff and then Wooferines.
Eric_FosterChris, can I ask why your livestreaming versus Dan Philips wasn't available at Can Am?
moderatorOur next question: Sharon.macsween: Flyball is a sport. Nafa is the organization you are running for a Board position. How would you deal with the division between Nafa and Ufli. Nafa is what you are representing.....
moderatorEric, let's try to limit our responses to the flyball public (please).
Eric_FosterNo problem...thanks for the heads up
Christine.VanWertI was unable to attend this year's Canam because I have no money. Dan Phillips was paid by Nafa to livestream.
moderatorWe have 2 final questions in the queue.
Christine.VanWertNafa and U-fli are separate organizations. I don't see that there is any action that needs to be taken to keep them separate.
Sharon.MacSweenIt appears that Nafa events are declining in regions such as region 1 and I think that is directly attributed to U-fli. How would you promote Nafa events in regions such as Reg 1 for an example?
Curtis_SmithOverall, I view the division between Nafa and U-fli as a challenge that will continue to improve the sport. Personally, I've never participated in a U-fli tournament, and I don't intend to do so in the future, but at the same time I realize that the two organizations are competing with one another for flyball participants, and part of my job as a Board member will be to make sure Nafa remains the best and the largest flyball organization in the world.
Christine.VanWertWhat is happening in Region 1 is much more complicated but, there is nothing that is directly attributable to U-fli. A poor local economy has more to do with it.
moderatorOur next question: Dede_crough: As long as I have been in flyball (2002), people have talked about growing the sport. I am all in favor of that and have done my best to help, but there are disadvantages to growth. What do you think they are, and what might be your solutions. Is there a point at which you would say Nafa is "too big, " and if so, how would you define that point?
moderatorWe have one final question after that one.
Eric_FosterNafa is the heart of Flyball to me. I have seen issues arise from the two parties and who is on which side. I do feel as though the issue at hand is playing both Nafa and U-fli....if I'm representing Nafa.... I run with Nafa only.....its all about the level of commitment.
Eric_FosterI don't feel Flyball can be big enough personally. I spoke with a fellow flyballer in South Africa the other day and he is having a blast learning the sport. Flyball is not just a North American sport....its worldwide....12 teams in Japan.....8 teams in New Zealand.....its growing and I want to do everything I can to promote it.
Curtis_SmithI don't believe there are really any disadvantages to growth--only challenges. For example, in the past, some folks have said that there are too many tournaments to choose from in Region 2 (western Ontario), and as a consequence, participation has declined at some of them. However, as with any "business" a new equilibrium will eventually occur dependent on need.
Christine.VanWertDisadvantages to growth is an acknowledgement that we will be busier as an organization with more demands for services and assets. We need to be prepared for these challenges so that they do not overwhelm us. So long as Nafa can find volunteers to judge, act as Rds and fill Executive Staff positions, we'll be ok. One thing that I believe that Nafa needs to investigate is Do we need to add more positions on the Board itself? It's a question that I truly believe that the Bod needs to ask and answer. In the past 10 years, the number of Regions has more than doubled which, in turn, doubled the number of Rds reporting to the Ed. In the same time period, we have a Board that has remained at 9 members. We have added the Canam and so much more more I cannot enumerate. At what point does the Board take on too much? This needs to be addressed in a methodical fashion or we risk a decline because we cannot deliver.
moderatorOur last question: Linda_bullard: Have the candidates previously attended any Bod meetings? yes or no? thank you.
Eric_FosterI'm shooting for an international team next year at Can Am...... that would be awesome!
Christine.VanWertyes, I have attended at least 4 or 5 Bod meetings over the years.
moderatorAfter the final question, if the candidates have any closing remarks, please make feel free to make them.
Curtis_SmithUnfortunately, I have been unable attend any Board meetings. Someday, I'd like to convince our team to make the trek from Alaska to the Agm since it always coincides with an opportunity to play flyball :)
Eric_FosterI have not attended any meetings based on location.
Brian_Faythere were 2 people from Poland running their dogs at Can Am and both got Fdch's on their dogs there
Eric_FosterPlus the lady from Japan who ran with Dana's team......
Curtis_SmithAs a Nafa competitor, Team Captain, Head Judge, and the person who led the effort to establish flyball in Alaska, I've learned many things, including the true value of teamwork and how to help keep flyball fun and fair for all involved. I'm also constantly improving my leadership, diplomatic, and organizational skills. Simply put, I know how to get things done. I believe I have the knowledge, experience, and the drive to serve the Nafa community well as a member of the Board of Directors, and I would appreciate your support in this year's election. Have a good night! I'm already looking forward to the third candidate chat. In the meantime, if there are any questions or concerns, please feel free to email me (
Christine.VanWertI believe that Nafa has made great strides in the last few years and I would like to contribute my part to Nafa's progress. I also want to thank the Nafa Bod for giving us an opportunity to have these chats. With candidates and clubs spread all over North America, it's not easy for folks to know you. I welcome the opportunity to work for Nafa and for the flyball community as a whole. We covered some good ground. We need your participation to make this organization work. My email is should you have questions that were not asked here. Thanks!
Eric_FosterTruthfully, ......i'm hear to help out. I just want to do what it takes to provide a better Flyball experience for you and your dog. Secondly, I want to get the word out to the masses about this great sport. My background in marketing and large event production would lend itself to greater exposure to the public. Letting others know about Flyball would produce greater interest in dog sports as well as invest into the next generation of excited Flyball participants. Thanks and have a great night. I'm here if you need me
moderatorThank you Christine, Curtis, and Eric, and to everyone else who participated here tonight. Also a big thank you to Kim Davis for help with moderation and for organizing the chats. Everyone please have a good evening and hopefully we'll see you in the lanes! transcript Stops Here