North American Flyball Association

dgsmithI'll go ahead and run through the flow of this for those who haven't been here before. Each candidate will get a chance to make an opening stmt. Perhaps you'll find the basis of a question in something they say that you'd like to follow further. Then we'll move to questions. If you want to queue a question for the candidates, double click dgsmith in the upper left and send me the question in a private chat. I'll let you know when your Q moves into the main window. When your Q is in the main window, feel free to type directly in the main window to clarify or further progress your question. Try to stick to the original question - if you come up with a new one, queue it up and we'll get to it in turn. Try to phrase questions that each candidate can say something to - try to avoid addressing one candidate.
dgsmithBefore we start formally, I should add that Lee Heighton indicated on the last chat that he would be unable to join this chat and the next chat due to work commitments. Also, I received a note from Lisa Pignetti Peckham that she has a family dinner this evening and so will likely be an hour or two late. At this time I think we'll go ahead and begin. Candidates can send their openings whenever they're ready.
Zachary_ChernikHello everyone, welcome to the third NAFA chat tonight. Hopefully...the tryptophan in turkey will not slow down my responses tonight.
Dana.NicholsI'm glad to have this opportunity to participate in another candidate chat. We've covered quite a number of areas in our previous chats. I look forward to visiting with everyone again.
dgsmithOur first question comes from Karen - "On which committees would you like to serve?"
Dana.NicholsI've given this quite a bit of thought. I'm very interested in several different committees. The attorney part of me is very interested in the rules committee. I really enjoy drafting language, interpreting rules, and figuring out ramifications of potential rule changes. I'd also be very interested in working on the marketing committee to help bring NAFA more exposure in areas that could use more flyball.
Zachary_ChernikBased on my background, Finance - Marketing - Technology.
Karen.OlesonWould you work to bring non BoD flyball persons to those committees? If yes, how hard? If no, why not?
scottNETGiven the committee's that you have presented, what agendas or plans do you bring for those committee's to work on?
Dana.NicholsUnder the bylaws, non BoD members can be appointed as long as the majority are BoD members. I think non BoD members may be very valuable, especially on the marketing committee.
Karen.OlesonHave you ever worked to get yourself onto a committee as a non-BoD member? How have you contributed to NAFA at a corporate level?
Zachary_ChernikEven with the low interest rates, we need to look at possible options, financing for additional EJS systems so that we can reduce the shipping charges and get all the regions the new systems. I've taken a look at the Return on Investment (ROI) and without any additional funds being used, the ROI would be over just a couple of years. We need to seek out qualified individuals to help NAFA. With over 3,000 members, I'm sure that we can have many good people to help us.
scottNETSo you would be in favor of NAFA taking out loans to purchase equipment vs. the direct cash basis that has been used?
Zachary_ChernikIf we can get a really good rate....which helps get the EJS to all regions....the saving from shipping will pay for the EJS in a very short yes...but it would have to be looked at in detail....
Dana.NicholsScott, I'd like to see a proposal for the marketing committee to help promote NAFA flyball at the grassroots level. I think it's really impossible to expect that NAFA can spend money to market in every state & province in North America, but a more realistic goal might be to put together resources for new clubs and existing ones to promote flyball to the general public
Dana.NicholsKaren, I have not ever specifically tried to get appointed to a NAFA committee. I have, through RUFF, submitted proposals to the BoD regarding our request for a regional realignment, which was ultimately granted. The forming of Region 19 here has really helped grow flyball in our area. So, I have had dealings with the BoD and would like to become more involved.
Zachary_ChernikWe have a huge under tapped's our members....each one of us brings sometimes to NAFA....we just need to ask how can we make this sport better.
petemach4Would it really be necessary to borrow to purchase the needed light systems?
Zachary_ChernikWhy not use the bank's money if we can earn interest and also leave our balance alone or increase it.
Glenn.HamiltonHello all. Sorry I'm late - been at a tournament all day.
Chris_WooferinesI'm not fond of the concept of a non-profit organization borrowing money. How do you propose getting the delegates to support that idea?
Zachary_ChernikChris...what is your concern?
Glenn.HamiltonI understand that the question involves committee assignment. I like Rules, have done Judges, and would like Disciplinary. There are several limiting factors about bringing non-board members into committees where Executive Session may be used to protect the rights of those involved. Non-committee members are not bound by our bylaws to respect Executive Session like the board members.
Zachary_ChernikWe need to consider all possibilities which requires detail analysis of each possible solution.
Chris_WooferinesMy concerns are many. Abandoning a well thought out budget for future purchases is one. Making sure we do not purchase more systems than we actually need is another. EJS's are only of value to flyball. Loans generally are charged at an interest rate higher than CD's. Aligning payments with NAFA's income levels which may fluctuate.
kris_pickeringTo use the bank's money we'd have to a) get the loan and b) pay the bank. The interest a borrower pays is greater than the interest the bank charges to loan. Non-profits also occupy a special place in the financial universe wrt not having the same deductions/profit motives as others. In addition, NAFA had some unresolved issues that were a carryover that were resolved favorably to NAFA but certainly in our judgment called for cautious expenditures. As chair of Finance, I have believed it is important to live within NAFA's means, rather than to incur debt.
Karen.OlesonGlenn, I've never even seen minutes from a committee meeting, let alone an indication of Executive Session.
Glenn.HamiltonHardware unique to our sport is typically not deemed to be good collateral for a lending institution.
scottNETPublication of the committee meeting minutes are done through the reports recorded at the main BoD meeting.
Zachary_ChernikKris, do you agree, with the additional New EJS systems, there has been a reduction in shipping costs this year?
Glenn.HamiltonKaren: you can see indications of Exec Session in the minutes from many board meetings. Committee meeting minutes typically get presented into the minutes by their Committee reports.
Karen.OlesonAre committee meetings open to all board members and/or the public?
kris_pickeringZac, shipping costs are down but we do not have the final figures quantified until final year end reports. This is what we predicted in purchasing the EJS's we did.
Zachary_ChernikI think it was reported in one of the Meeting Minutes that it looked like the numbers were about 30k in savings vs the 60-70k in shipping each year.
dgsmithKaren, as I understand our Bylaws, committee meetings are open to any BoD member. I think it would fall to Robert's Rules on the public part - so not sure. Perhaps Kris or Glenn would know.
scottNETFor clarification, at the last meeting, the numbers were at about 50% of last year with still 3 months left in the fiscal year.
Glenn.HamiltonA Disciplinary review would probably be restricted from the public, again to protect the interests of those involved. If Exec Session was deemed to be necessary, it would be requested by the members sitting.
dgsmithIn our last chat, a question was asked about what each candidate would want to accomplish in the coming year or so. The next question builds on that from a practical standpoint - "since you will represent one vote on the BoD once elected, how do you plan on building working relationships to get things passed that you want to accomplished?"
Glenn.HamiltonWorking relationships with who? The rest of the board?
dgsmithYes, I believe they're asking in relation to the rest of the BoD to get something past a vote.
Dana.NicholsFostering working relationships with people, even those you do not always agree with, is critical to serving in a board capacity. I have served on several local and state committees where I was one vote of many. But, I have been fortunate to have met all of the current Board members and I think they all seem to have the best interests of NAFA at heart. I hope I have the opportunity to work with them.
Zachary_ChernikI'm a very logical and analytical person. We need to build on each one of our strengths and common beliefs and goals as Board members. I believe that we all what to see NAFA - grow, be strong financially and most of all have a fun time with our membership and our dogs.
Glenn.HamiltonCommittee work needs to be comprehensive where ideas that are reviewed, refined and agreed upon are then presented in a unified offering from the committee . This is not to say that all decisions need to be unanimous but committees need to have the common good of NAFA as their goal. Good committee work starts with identifying common goals in committee member selections at the start of each year.
dgsmithOur next question comes from NNflyingsquad - "I would like to know more about what each candidate means to do specifically across regions to promote growth - I have seen a leveling off and then recently a decline in the number teams entered in local tournaments, coupled with the active promotion of U-FLI I am worried about the future of flyball in our seemingly isolated region."
Dana.NicholsWell, I think that ultimately the most powerful means of promoting growth is from the local clubs themselves. I'd like to see NAFA work to develop resources for local clubs through the RDs and directly with clubs to give them support and ideas for expanding flyball. NAFA can also look at individual regions to see if there are concrete solutions they can implement to help those regions out. For instance, in our area, NAFA formed a region that included Colorado and then two neighboring states - NM & WY. We had done a tremendous amount of work on our own to grow NAFA flyball here, but the formation of the region here really helped encourage lots more local tournaments. Obviously the solution for one region is not going to be the solution for all, but I think a grassroots effort with help from NAFA is the key.
Glenn.HamiltonWe need to keep our standards high, offer a consistency between regions and promote events that foster competition across the regions. NAFA has tried to do that by standardizing on the Signature Gear EJS, initiating more comprehensive judging programs and making all of the information from NAFA (financial, rules, minutes, results, etc.) available through on-line services. This enables all regions to be on an equal footing with the more established regions. That doesn't mean you'll go the same speed, (I wish!) but that the information was out there for you. Events such as the recent Cynosports event attest to that plan.
Zachary_ChernikI've been charting both U-FLI and NAFA since U-FLI started. I've seen some areas of growth and decline for both leagues. This becomes a very delicate area. The main goal is to grow flyball. We need a good product out there otherwise, there is another venue to join. NAFA needs to help the clubs. But each club is unique and one size fits all approach will not cut it.
scottNETHow do you envision NAFA helping the clubs? What types of options exist?
dgsmithNNflyingsquad: My question is to Glenn (and to others)... Do you have any concrete ideas of how to grow the sport within a region - I fail to see how standardization promotes growth and although Cynosports was a success - of the twenty plus teams only one was from Canada.
Karen.OlesonNote: 2 Canadian teams entered Cynosports. One had to pull.
Zachary_ChernikWe need to talk with the clubs in each region. Getting involvement from our membership. Create a game plan working with the ED, RD and the regional clubs. Again...each region will need to be addressed individually and then we can tailor the plan to fit the region. Track what works and what doesn't.
Karen.OlesonWould that be at the board level or committee level Zac (and others)?
Zachary_ChernikAll levels....we need everyone to pitch-in. This has to be a coordinated effort from top to bottom.
Cindy_FerlittoIf you really want to grow the sport, why doesn't NAFA dedicate some people, dedicate some money for marketing and for assisting new clubs to get started?
NNFlyingsquadOK... fine two teams.... what I really care about is making sure NAFA remains strong and I would like to hear specific suggestions... like for instance as a board member I will_________
Dana.NicholsI think there are many concrete ways of growing flyball within a region. I've talked about some of my ideas in previous chats. It also depends on each individual area. RDs are an invaluable resource for helping new clubs and pairing people where there are needs. I would like to see NAFA foster those relationships, but primarily, as I said before, this really has to be at the grassroots level. It won't help for NAFA to expend tons of money on advertising if there are no local resources for folks to go to.
Glenn.HamiltonPhoenix is a long way from many places but having established the basis for such an event, it opens the door for similar events elsewhere. In the past, NAFA growth has blipped positively immediately following media presentation of flyball at events like the Great Outdoor Games and Incredible Dog Challenges. This turns on the public but ultimately it is the offerings of the local clubs that make it happen. Training classes, house leagues, tournaments all depend on a motivated club membership. See Dana's notes earlier. How to motivate? In the past, NAFA has made presentations to the Trainer's associations to promote our sport to them. A expanded return to that policy has been discussed and under development.
Cindy_FerlittoLocal is great, but why does it have to be local. Just having at least one dedicated person who people can go to at any time, would be huge. I think it might be worth it to NAFA to have a salaried person just for that
Zachary_ChernikWe can not stop people from trying U-FLI. What we can do is make NAFA the best it can be. We will not please's like the way football was....American League and National League. The difference here is one is Not-for-profit and the other is For-profit....there can be no merger.
dgsmithOur next Questions come from Cindy in two parts- she asks "1) I would like to know how each of the candidates feel regarding the present measuring system. Is it adequate or do they feel that changes need to be made. And if so, what changes would they like to see. 2) I also would like to know how each feels regarding lowering the jump heights for all dogs across the board, not just the largest and the smallest"
Dana.NicholsFirst, I don't see a viable alternative right now to our current measuring system. NAFA has implemented more judges training regarding measuring in its new program and had a more concentrated emphasis on measuring even with its old program. NAFA's measuring stance & measuring device are used by many other dog sport organizations. Although some areas have seen people trying to abuse the measuring rules, I'm in favor of our current method of addressing those abuses on a case by case basis when there are complaints. NAFA has acted in cases where measuring abuses were reported. I wouldn't want us to scrap an entire system because a few people try to bend the rules - they'll undoubtedly try to bend any alternate system as well. Second, I don't personally see a need to lower the jump heights for all dogs at this time. But that is the type of question that should probably be submitted for a vote to the delegates (if presented appropriately). That's the beauty of NAFA's delegate system with regard to these type of racing rules questions - it isn't just the BoD member's view that count, it's the delegates.
Zachary_ChernikMy feeling is that measuring needs to change. I've seen too many questionable heights recorded. The rules have changed in Oct 2004 so existing HCs are in question before and after Oct. 2004. There is a lot of stress for the judges, the handlers, people with video camcorders rushing to tape a certain club's dog. This has to stop! We need to find a passive way that works and removes the stress from everyone! This is a fun game. As for lowering heights, we need to involve experts from our Universities to help in researching the pros and cons of jumping. As for cheapen its benchmarks....doesn't it cheapen it if a team is cheating with the current system!
Glenn.Hamilton1)I believe that the current measuring system is well defined, understood and is being much maligned by those trying make advantage of the difference between the ease of use system that U-FLI has adopted and the NAFA system that measures length of leg utility. The NAFA type of system is in use by many Kennel Clubs throughout the world and has stood the test of time. I don't know of any organizations measuring a specific bone as their sole basis for determining a dog's height other than U-FLI. 2)I would not like to see the NAFA brand cheapen its past benchmarks by changing the formula for jump height calculations.
Cindy_FerlittoUnder the current method of measuring, a dog can measure differently on any given day, depending on level of excitement, fear, etc. It is not the most accurate. What test of time? There is more controversy surrounding measuring now than ever before. Lowering heights to enable more dogs to run safely, would not be cheapening the sport in my eyes. Also, what additional training has been supplied to the judges? None that I have seen
Glenn.HamiltonTest of time? 25 years in NAFA flyball. Agility for 20 years minimum. CKC, Kc, AKC for eons. Think about it. A new idea isn't better because it is new. It must have some relevance to what it is replacing as a test.
Cindy_FerlittoThe way the measurement is used is NOT the same. The requirements for the dogs are NOT the same. How long can NAFA ignore this controversy?
Glenn.HamiltonCindy: The method of measurement IS the same - to determine the accurate height of the dog.
dgsmithOur next question comes from beck who asks " I have a question, as a kid in flyball, I am curious why kids are not more involved. At some point in time, the adults will be too old to play and the kids have to take over, what will each of the people do who want to be in office to pull in more kids"
Zachary_ChernikWe have started working with one of our members on our own club. He is 14 and we are trying to get his school and his Boy Scouts of America group involved.
beckBoy Scouts how?
Zachary_ChernikWe are working with them to help at a tournament. We have many dogs that kids can run on our team. We have a tournament site that has camping right next to the building. The master of the BSA of that group is currently working out the details with another member of our team.
Dana.NicholsI think it has been helpful that NAFA now recognizes Junior Handlers with a specially designed pin. As a kid, I grew up doing horse sports. Their youth programs are much more developed than in dog sports. However, 4-H has started expanding their dog programs in many parts of the country. In Colorado, one of our flyballers on the western slope, Marianne Fifield is starting a statewide agility program for 4-hers. I actually think that flyball would be a natural for many youth programs (including 4-H) since mixed breeds can compete. Some of the Colorado clubs have done demos with local Boy Scout & youth programs at humane societies.
Glenn.HamiltonIn answer to Beck, it is to encourage your youngsters to play. All of my kids have played flyball since they were old enough to spell flyball. Clubs in region 2 all encourage their kids to come out. At today's event there were well over a dozen kids competing in one form or another. Strollers with babies, toddlers in ear muffs, grade school kids shagging balls, handlers etc. ... all are encouraged.
beckWhat I mean is I don't really see any kids allowed to do stuff other than shag balls or run certain dogs on teams. What about classes at tournaments to learn how to set up the lights or learn how to do the desk and stuff like that. Running dogs is fun, but I think that if the judges or whoever could teach the kids other stuff we could carry on and help more
Glenn.HamiltonWe have found that Veterans is a great place for the youngsters to learn using experienced dogs. We have had a box judge / handler in our region who was awesome as a line or box judge. His eye was not to be questioned. My daughter has worked a table since she was 7. We let the kids shadow the grown ups so that they can learn how the event works.
beckIs it common to have kids do that stuff? I have never seen it and have been afraid to ask if I can learn
Glenn.HamiltonIt is in our region Beck. I have found that when you are talking flyball around the house 24/7, the knowledge is picked up through osmosis. The questions from the back seat of the van can really surprise you on your way to an event! Don't ignore the hidden talents.
Dana.NicholsBox & line judges under 18 have to be approved by the RD, but like Glenn said, if you shadow some grown ups first to learn the rules, I'm sure you'd do great!
Glenn.HamiltonWhen judging, the youngsters need to be approved but they can soon reward that trust. Nonetheless, at all times, they must be protected from over zealous adults looking to question their decisions.
dgsmithFor our next question, Chris asks "I think everybody agrees that NAFA needs to grow our sport and utilizing a grassroots effort from local enthusiasts has registered the most successful return. What specific roles do you envision the Rd's playing in NAFA's program for growth? How does the BoD get Rd's more involved in NAFA's "brand"?"
Dana.NicholsI think an RD's role depends somewhat on what kind of region they are in. If they are in a region where flyball is huge with tournaments nearly every weekend, it's probably a much different job than being an RD in a region where flyball is in its infancy. But, at a basic level, most of the RDs I've seen have been really approachable by everyone - from the most experienced person to the spectator wanting to find out more information. It doesn't mean that the RD is the person who has to educate everyone, but they are an invaluable resource for knowing who to send someone to, knowing which clubs offer classes or are looking for height dogs, etc. I see RDs as NAFA's representatives on the front line. Judges are often too busy judging to even see these issues. RDs are like the ultimate NAFA PR person.
Glenn.HamiltonThe RD's fall under the leadership of the Executive Director and not the Board. Personally, though, I believe that RD's can help clubs by offering advice on scheduling, event management (how to improve the work flow of a event), format choices and direct liaising with NAFA.
Zachary_ChernikWorking with coordination of the ED, I think the RD's need to have whatever resources that the ED and the RD working with the clubs in that region decide will work best to promote NAFA.
dgsmithAs a reminder we have the final installment of the candidate chats coming up this Thursday once again at 7pm CST. As of this evening, just over 24% of the mailed ballots have been returned electronically - I'm sure others have been mailed in. Still plenty of folks out there who can exercise their right to vote and plenty of time to think about the choices and cast that ballot.
Glenn.HamiltonThanks once again for taking the time to make us all more accountable to you. We will all benefit from the experience. Cheers!
Zachary_ChernikThanks again for round three. I hope that we are addressing your questions and concerns regarding the future of NAFA. Again....i can be reached by phone at 847-951-5809 or e-mail at
Dana.NicholsThanks again for another very interesting chat. I really enjoy meeting folks from other parts of the country. It's also been great to hear concerns and ideas on many different topics. I look forward to talking to you all again soon.
dgsmithWith that we'll close this third session of the candidate chats at about 2 1/2 hours. G'Nite all.

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