Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Crokinole Professionals

In early May I received an interesting message via Twitter:

I quickly learned that Alina Simone worked for the US-based BBC radio, shortly after learning that the BBC actually worked outside of the UK. After a flurry of email exchanges trying to find a mutually available time, including a quick clarification of time zones, the interview was set.

I was pretty excited about the whole deal and thought it could be a great thing for crokinole to get this sort of publicity. Shortly before the interview I had to ask myself, “Am I really about to talk to someone in a different country about crokinole?”

The interview was fun and I hoped I had given Alina some helpful information for her piece. I was looking forward to hearing the final version, but thinking it wouldn’t be released until late June I put it in the back of my mind.

That was a good idea as my first two weeks of June included 4 midterms and 5 assignments. That included one midterm on the day of the World Crokinole Championship, better known as the first Saturday of June. It was bound to be a busy couple of weeks, and the stress was something I wasn’t looking forward to, especially surrounding the WCC.

For the sake of school work, there were several late nights in that first week of June, and none of those late nights involved practicing crokinole. By Thursday, the assignments were out of the way, and only midterms were left for Friday and Saturday. 

The first thing I did after waking up was pull the crokinole board on to my bed. The rest of the day was supposed to be spent studying, but actually involved many frequent “breaks” to take a few practice shots. Friday was much of the same, there was school work to focus on, but I would have much rather been playing crokinole.

The crokinole tournament on Saturday really went by all too quickly. I was really happy with how my results turned out (both in the exam room and on the crokinole boards). I shot 968 discs of competitive action over the span of 13 hours, with a few hour break in the middle to write an Operations exam. My only regret was not being able to speak to more people that day.

In perfect timing the BBC Crokinole piece came out the night before the tournament. It was an interesting piece, and even more interesting to see what audio clips make it from the interview to the final version. With regard to the piece, there’s a couple of things I’d like to talk about:

1. Crokinole in Decline
That line probably sticks out more than any other, and unfortunately carries with it a lot of truth.
Photo Credit: PRI's The World

2. I really want to meet Scott Philipps and his roommate.
It has been great to meet the Knipsbrat group from Connecticut, and it’s always exciting to learn of some crokinole enthusiasts from different parts of the world.
It’s also nice to see that people are actually watching those videos that get posted online, and that people are still interested in the game despite it not changing since it’s invention in the 1800’s.

3. “If only Scott was up in Canada, he could compete with rising stars like Nathan Walsh, who was only 12 when he started competing professionally.”
I smiled when I heard the “rising star” compliment, then laughed at the notion of “professional”. The top prize is $1000 and the biggest obstacle top crokinole
 players have is finding time to practice due to other parts of life that even we would admit to being more important. Now there are those of us who take to the game competitively, but the World Crokinole Championships isn’t just competition, it’s a gathering of folks dedicated to crokinole, determined to see its continued life. 

While the competition is fun and it is always a great feeling to do well at the WCC, I want to talk to as many people as I can. I want to share ideas and stories about the game and make sure they come back so I can see them again next year. It’s hard to balance that with focussing on competition, and this year, chances are if I didn’t sit down to play against you, I didn’t get a chance to talk to you.

Which I guess leads more to the idea against crokinole professionals. Even for a student who can put a lot of time into practice, when things get busy, crokinole takes a backseat. There are those of us who take it seriously, but even for those who take it to the highest degree, crokinole is a small part of life. An enjoyable part, and one I would like to do a little bit more, but still just one simple part.

That being said, school is almost done for the summer term, so work on crokinole videos will begin in a few weeks. Meanwhile, the 7th season of the National Crokinole Association begins in New York with the Turtle Island Crokinole Tournament on August 9th.