Road Trip Dad - Announcing the WILC

Dan Witmer | September 21, 2015
Literally. I mean it – literally. That was my first job as a volunteer yesterday at the World Indoor Lacrosse Championships at the beautiful and brand new Village Pavilion for the 9:30 AM match between Switzerland and Australia. With the countdown-to-game-time clock showing less than 10 minutes, I was asked if I’d announce the game.

“Is there a script?” I asked. Nope. “OK,” I said. “I’ll give it a try.”

First obstacle was the starting lineups. Now, fortunately, this was Australia and Switzerland; I saw names like Matthias Annaheim and Rolf Hirt for Switzerland, and Tristan Rai and Tim Ratje for Australia. I’ll admit that I would have had strong reservations if it had been Serbia vs. Finland (for example, Kimi Ako and Altti Hyytiainen play for Finland, and Fjodor Jemcov and Uros Matijasevic play for Serbia).

I could do this. But first, let me tell you about the past week…

I had confirmed my availability and given my lacrosse credentials back in the second week of August, when I got home from Lake Placid. I spoke with Larissa Schultz in person and then registered on-line. I even had a choice of what kind of work I wanted to do. Penalty box staff caught my attention, so I figured I’d sign up for that. Because of my soccer schedule, I only signed up for two days – Sunday, September 20, and Sunday, September 27.

A few days later, when I got my email confirmation, I had lost my September 27 shift. I realized that there are only two games on that last date, the medal games at the Carrier Dome, so I figured others were getting priority. No problem, I said to myself; I’ll sign up for Saturday, September 26. Another email confirmation showed both dates, 9/20 and 9/26, from 8:30 AM-2:30 PM (two games), but now I was bounced from the Arena to the Pavilion. No big deal; I wanted to see the new facility anyway…

Then, this past Wednesday night, there was an orientation session for all volunteers at 6:30 at the Onondaga Arena. I checked in, picked up my nice WILC2015 volunteer shirt, and then waited for the presentation to begin. Around 7:00 PM, Larissa took the stage and went through the basics, including a lot of pretty impressive numbers:

13 - the number of nations competing this year
556 - the number of athletes participating
46 - the number of games played over a period of 10 days
4 - the number of game sites (Onondaga Arena, Village Pavilion, Onondaga County War Memorial, and the Carrier Dome)
1300 - the number of volunteer slots that needed to be filled
197 - the number of volunteers that had registered prior to Wednesday’s meeting

(my math tells me that that’s almost SEVEN shifts per volunteer, which seems like a pretty large number… they did announce that they’re looking for more help, especially today, tomorrow, and Friday)

Anyway, the meeting lasted about a half hour, and then those of us who had been assigned to GAME OPERATIONS were supposed to have some additional training. After about a half hour of waiting around again, the GAME OPS portion of the orientation began. We went through roles and responsibilities, job descriptions, etc. Then we were shown a new schedule, and told that the Shiftboard emails weren’t accurate. I looked at the new schedules and didn’t see my name anywhere. Others found the same; we were told to show up for our shifts anyway, and that we would probably just be assigned to help with stats (they told us they were hoping for as many as six stat people for every game). The meeting ended about 9:00 PM, and I drove home.

On Thursday morning I received an email confirming my two shifts – both as penalty box staff – so I figured I’d probably end up keeping stats…

I left Oswego at 7:30 yesterday morning for the 50-minute drive to Nedrow. I tried to stop in at the Volunteer tent at the Onondaga Arena to double check my assignment, but the parking attendants said I had to park across the street and then I didn’t see anyone at the tent anyway, so I just drove to the truly gorgeous Village Pavilion. Of course, I was oblivious to the parking signs and tried to drive across a ball field before I was told to turn back – how embarrassing! Sorry!!!

My second (or third?) attempt to find a good parking spot was much more successful – all I had to do was follow the signs, flags, and other markings, and I walked into the arena with 55 minutes showing on the countdown clock. The first person I spoke to was a fellow volunteer, and she told me to look for people wearing gray GAME OPS polo shirts…

After a few minutes, I saw the GAME OPS guy in charge (Brad, I think), and he looked over his list and said my name wasn’t on it. The penalty boxes were all set, and they already had all the stat people they needed. I asked if I should check in back at the Arena, but he said I should stick around and see if they needed me.

And that’s what led up to him coming up to me with 10 minutes left before the game, asking me to announce the game. The national anthems were with the person who was scheduled to announce, so the two teams sang their own anthems after I announced their lineups. The game started without too much stress (for me), as all I had to do was announce goals, assists, time-outs, and penalties.

The two women in the scorebox with me were very experienced, friendly, and helpful. Renee Smoke and Shirley Hill showed me all the ropes, and together we made a pretty good team. Renee kept the official score sheet, while Shirley worked the score board. If we missed the goal scorer or whoever had the assist, spotters located up on the scaffolding above us were always there to fill in the blanks.

Australia did its best to keep me busy, putting up 21 goals on the Swiss team. The two names I liked the best were Australia’s Daniel Mentiplay (“He is meant-to-play, his father was meant-to-play, and his son will be meant-to-play”) and Switzerland’s Mario Von Jackowski – it’s just fun to say (I think he had four or five penalties, so I had to say it more than most of the others).

Kent Lyons, whose place I had taken with the microphone, showed up during the game and thanked me for filling in for him. He let me finish the game and it was decided that I would work in the home team’s penalty box for my second game.

Between games I introduced myself to an Australian coach to ask if I could speak to the player from the Woodville Warriors, my son Brian’s club team in Adelaide. Well, it turned out that the coach was also from Adelaide, and that he knew Brian, too. He then introduced me to #2, Jesse Whinnen, who played with Brian on the Warriors this past spring and summer (or fall and winter, as Australia is six months opposite us here in CNY).

I also spoke briefly with referee Marty Joyner, who said he was from Northern Virginia, so I asked him if he knew Jeff Lewandowski (originally from Auburn, NY), who was an assistant coach for me at Oswego State around 2003 or so but has been teaching and coaching and raising a family in Fairfax County for the past ten years or so. Marty said he knew Jeff well, and texted my photo and cell number to him. Within minutes, my cell phone was ringing, and I caught up with Jeff for a minute or so.

Has anyone ever noticed how everyone knows everyone in this game?

The 12:30 game at the Pavilion saw Israel match up against Ireland, and I got another front row seat to get as close to the action as possible. I think Israel had four penalties in the first quarter, and they probably had about ten for the game, so again, I was fairly busy opening and closing the penalty box door. Israel pulled away with a 12-6 victory, and before I knew it, it was past 2:30… time to head home.

I don’t know if I’ll get any more Shiftboard email updates this week, but I’m planning to be back at the Pavilion on Saturday to do whatever I’m needed to do. I’ll let you know how that all unfolds in next week’s Road Trip Dad. Do yourself a favor if your schedule allows, and check out the week’s games – all games at the Pavilion are free!

Enjoy then… and please drive carefully!

- Dan Witmer