Transcript for the NAFA® Candidate Chat November 25th, 2014

emma.makThis is Emma Mak from the Election Committee. I'm again moderating this evening's candidate chat. Leerie Jenkins is assisting. Thanks to everyone for joining us in the second candidate chat for the 2014/2015 Nafa Election.
emma.makThe candidates offering to serve on the Nafa board are: Steve Corona, Neil Flood, Sam Ford and Dale Smith. Steve, Neil and, Sam are participating in this chat. Dale Smith has a work commitment and cannot attend this evening.
emma.makWe will now take opening remarks from the candidates. if you have a question for the candidates, please send them in a private message to me. I'll queue the questions and provide them to the candidates.
emma.makI have 3 questions in the queue.
Neil.FloodI just want to thank everyone again for the opportunity. I think serving on the board would be a big honour and I would love for the opportunity to give back to a sport that myself and my family love so much.
BCsamGood evening all and thanks for getting me out of kitchen duty. I appreciate all of you for taking time our to discuss flyball and the issues we face. I have come to look forward to the exchange of ideas here as those ideas can become some of the future of flyball. Some ideas bring about progress and the more we share the better we can make this sport.
Steve CoronaGood evening everyone. Thank you for making time to join us tonight as you prepare for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. I'd also like to thank Nafa for hosting this chat. I look forward to exchanging ides with my fellow nominees this evening.
emma.makFirst question from Dana Hanson: Steve, to follow up on an area you touched on during the last chat, you mentioned junior handlers are the future of flyball. What kinds of programs do you envision doing and perhaps what have you done within your own club to encourage participation by young handlers?
emma.makAll candidates feel free to answer the question.
Steve CoronaSome of the ideas I envision would include a training program for the junior handlers which would allow them to assist with box and line judging with the appropriate supervision of course. I believe if we can educate at an early age it would help the sport and possibly encourage them to consider becoming judges in the future. I also would like to look at some type of recognition by age group for those young handlers that are racing dogs. In our own club we always encourage and support junior handlers to participate and I enjoy explainging the ins and outs of the sport to them.
emma.makJust to clarify for everyone Bcsam is Sam Ford.
BCsamI think Nafa took a big step with the introduction of and the continuation of Junior Handler Pins. I also like the idea and encourage the idea of the Rds making every effort to encourage young players to learn the judging chairs. I would be open for ideas for further ecouraging things we could do. I know that our club has in the past done special awards for Junior Handlers at our tournaments to recognize their participation.
Neil.FloodWe have a number of kids in our club in the last 8 years. We have always involved them in some of the activities around the sport, and when they have shown an interest in running, we have worked to find good dogs for them to run in practices then slowly integrate them into racing. I have found that the prized and pins have been a huge reward for the kids. The real key for us has been getting the kids to show the desire first. We found it to be a real balance and having them interest coorespond to their maturity level was a key to having success. Once they started racing though, the awards and the praise from other competitors really helped to keep them engaged.
emma.makSecond question from Dana Hanson: Steve and Sam mentioned interest in a few areas, but I believe you are the only ones who mentioned marketing. What marketing needs do you see in Nafa’s future?
emma.makAgain, all feel free to answer.
emma.mak3 questions in the queue.
Neil.FloodI think a big area Nafa needs to target for marketing is actually at companies for sponsorship. We have an excellent, family oriented sport, and I think it is really marketable to corporations looking to spend sponsorship dollars. Many clubs have small sponsorships deals but I think Nafa as an organization should look for major partners.
BCsamI would like to see Nafa have a program that supports the teaching of flyball in dog training centers. Many places train dogs around the Nafa world and if we can market to these training centers a way to train and encourage them to start teaching classes we can grow the sport. Right now we don't have a good enough outreach to training centers and with that improves we will bring more people in.
Steve CoronaAs we try to grow the Nafa brand I believe it is important to market our sport in the appropriate channels and continue to try to grow the sport in States where participation is low or non-existent. I would like to see some Tv time by doing demos, looking at our pamphlets, and how we can bring technology to play into the marketing aspect of the sport.
emma.makThird question from Dana Hanson: Several of you mentioned interest in technology. It seems like a lot of the new ideas for race technology lately are developed in the Carolinas and work themselves into gradual acceptance/adoption over time. Do you have any thoughts on speeding up the use of these tools . . . things like the heat counters and pass cameras?
emma.mak2 questions in the queue.
BCsamWell to be fair the first heat counters were seen at Lone Star Ruffnecks tournament at Reliant in Houston. I still have the original set. You are correct that there have been developments since then and we have used Canam to showcase futuristic ideas. As they continue to get more widely used we will see further enchancements and maybe one day they can be additions to our tournaments Nafa wide. One way we as leaders can help is to support developments by showcasing these new items in our own regions.
Steve CoronaI'm for the use of technology such as heat counters which benefit the entire flyball community and eases the demends placed on judges. Pass cameras bring with them pros and cons, think of Nfl instant reply, and could lengthen the racing day if many challenges were to be brought forth. If the technology allows for a fair playing field then I would support it's use after reviewing the merits of such equipment.
Neil.FloodI am familiar with the technologies you are talkinga about, I am not familiar with who, or how they are being developed. However, I think a good way to speed up the development on them would be to find partenrs in other states that would be willing to contribute to the testing and proofing of the technology, as well as possible development. Right now it feels like the development is really isolated, but I think we need to broaden the scope. We need to create technology programs and leverage our memberships skills to develop them. I have seen people in other regions develop similar technology, but no one is working together. Nafa can facilitate forums and information exchange opportunities to foster these technologies. I think we are just touching the tip of the iceberg with what we can do with some of the technology that is out there, we just need to bring our people together to do it.
emma.makFourth question from Dana Hanson: Since I began flyball, quite a few new dog activities that compete for the same handler dollars have sprung up. What are your thoughts on continue to grow this sport in today’s environment?
emma.makone question in the queue.
BCsamThis one is very interesting. I some ways I am old school in that we need to do what we do , the best that we can. We need to develop technologies that keep us on the cutting edge of our sport and to branch out to other "sports" lessens our focus on what our strength is. Making tournaments easier to host, develop state of the art systems to time and ways to display our sport should be our focus. But I am not opposed to listening to other ideas that might be presented.
Neil.FloodI think one thing we have going for us that many other dog sports don't is that we are one of the few team sports out there. I think we can market and push that aspect of the sport as I think it truly sets us apart from almost everything out there as well. As we compete within the flyball community one thing i think Nafa can improve is timelier delivery of awards, pins and plaques - its something that matters to a lot of people as well.
Steve CoronaFirst off we have to keep it fun and enjoyable. We have to look at the expenses that people commit to for a weekend of flyball. We have to make sure the game is fair and our rules are applied consistently. Engaging families in the sport will also help to grow it over the generations. I also enjoy the fact that we are open to all breeds and encourage handlers of various abilities.
emma.makJust a comment from Dana Hanson for Neil on technology. Knowing the skill sets of our participants is helpful. I ask about those of every new teammate so we can assess what resources we have.
emma.makFifth question from Dana Hanson: I was surprised at Canam to hear from one disappointed competitor. Canam, by the way, exceeds my expectation for tournaments. But it reminded me how different every competitor can be about their expectations for the sport or their weekend of flyball. What do you do to keep perspective and remind yourself of the mix of people this sport, your region or your club attracts?
emma.mak0 questions in the queue. Any further questions?
Neil.FloodI actually love the fact there are so many different ways to "do flyball", and none of them are wrong. I know our sport wouldn't be nearly as popular as it is if it was just about running fast, or just winning races, or just getting titiles, or just going out and having fun with your friends and dogs. I have raced on two different clubs and our current one is pretty big. Within own club we have a wide range of people and a wide range of goals, and its fantastic that we all bring a different perspective and approach to the sport. In my own house i have some dogs i race to run fast and win, and another that I just love to go out and have fun and she has helped me introduce the sport to my son. That is hands down one of the great things about our game, it is very inclusive of different people with different goals and perspectives.
BCsamCanam for me is always a struggle between the competing ideas in flyball. Are we all about fast teams and great times or we all about fun racing for all dogs no matter the times. Having been envolved from the beginning of the Canam idea we struggle to hit the "sweet spot" that is both great for fast teams and great for all dogs. Every year is a struggle and a learning experience. We take the suggestions and complaints very seriously and make adjustments when we can. I am sure not everyone is super happy but that is our goal. Great racing for everyone is what we push for and I know we will change what we did last year and try as best we can to make next year even better. If you don't think we can change from one year to the next just talk to anyone who was at the first Canam. A hugh difference to what you see now. And all because the Board listens to what people are saying.
Steve CoronaI try to remind myself of the diverse expectations people are looking for in flyball or any dog sport for that matter. From the highly competitive to the more relaxed teams they all have certain goals they are looking to achieve in a and I try to assure that they are all meet with equal enjoyment and passion.
emma.makSixth question from Dana Hanson: Is there a question you would have liked to have been asked? If so pose that question for all candidates, including yourself, to respond.
emma.makCandidates, probably better if you just answer your own question so it doesn't get too confusing.
BCsamMy question to any board candidate would be "How are you at working with a team?" No one comes to the board with their idea and pushes it through alone. The Board is nine strong people sitting down with a diverse background and they each bring to the table a unique view of flyall. So even though you come on board to make your own mark, how are you at working with a team?
BCsamSo to answer my own question I think I need to be a good listener first and a person willing to express my idea even though others may express an opposite view. Willingness to layout and idea and have ti shot down is the first step in progress. I hope I don't get "married" to my idea only but rather present my idea so that others can build on it. We aren't on the Board for the "credit" of who did what but rather we are there to bring the Nafa forward by all contributing. We move forward as a team.
Neil.FloodMy question would be "Do you think it is important for the board to have respresentation from a wide range of regions and why"? My answer: yes, I actually think this is really important, because so many of our regions do things very differently from one another. It's important for our board members to be as familiar as possible with these differences and be able to represent them as changes to policies, producedures and rules are discussed. Without these different perspectives, we risk alienating certain areas or regions that are critical to our success.
Steve CoronaMy question would be "what drives you to want to be a part of the Nafa Bod?" My answer is...i have a passion for the sport and I believe my strengths as a participant and business owner can help Nafa grow in many areas.
emma.makCandidates please prepare your closing remarks. A reminder that the ballots will be sent out electronically December 1. Those eligible to vote include: club owners, regional directors, approved and supervising judges and board members. The ballots will be sent to the email address Nafa has for you in the database. Please remember to vote by January 8th, 2015. Our third and final candidate chat will be on Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 7:30 Est.
Steve CoronaI truly enjoyed the great questions that were posed tonight. I look forward to our 3rd and final chat with this great group of nominees. Thank you again to the Bod for hosting and I wish everyone a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.
Neil.FloodThanks for everyone that participated, and those that have a chance to look at these later. I am thrilled to be nominated with such a strong group of candidates. I think I can bring a lot of new ideas and valuable experience within the sport to the Bod. If anyone has any other questions that want to ask, please don't hesitate to reach out to me ( Please make sure you vote, it's important the results reflect the opinions of the membership. Have a great Thanksgiving weekend!
BCsamThanks all for making this possible and thanks to those that will be reading the transcripts in the future. I see bright things for the future but the future will be built on good decisions each and every day. Great people that dedicate their time to this sport will secure the future. From those that race, to those that lead their clubs, to those that host tournaments and those that volunteer to make it work. This is the real future of Nafa flyball. All of us should take stock and find what we can do to contribute to this organization. We are run by the people that play. This truly is "our" sport and it is "our" sports future. And thanks to all of us it has a bright future.
emma.makThanks to the candidates, nomination and election committee members, and the Nafa participants. Any questions about the election should be directed to Have a good night.