Day 1: drive down: Watching corn, corn, potatoes and more corn. Reviewing DCR, handbook and tournament procedures on the way, quizzing each other. Making contact with fellow candidates on FB, as one volunteered to create a group, which was very helpful for info exchange and dinner arrangements.
Day 2: Familiarized ourselves with the venue and how things work and said hello to those we already knew as well as meeting new friends (everyone was welcoming and supportive). Observed some high level matches and National level officials to catch up on latest techniques, and attended the initial meeting where all Mentors/Coaches and Candidates introduced themselves shortly.
Day 3: We were split into a team of 3 to be observed by 2 Mentors for round of 3 matches: R1, R2, Score. After the 3 matches, we met up and debriefed, where R1 led the discussion on each match and then Mentors followed up with their own observations. (Making quick notes after each match is very helpful). Score sheets were then reviewed by the Head Score Mentor and graded.
We were fortunate to get 2 matches in the evening without being rated to practice what we learned.
Day 4: Mentally and physically difficult day as we joined in new teams of 3 with new partners for morning session and new partners for afternoon session: R1, R2 and Score repeated and followed by debrief and Mentor input. Debriefs could take between 1 and 2 hours after each group. A strong prematch was key, although often there was very little time to meet up.
Day 5: Early morning session again with 3 new partners, trying to process and apply all learned and pointed out at previous days. This time Mentors were walking around the courts with Candidates and observed overall, without debrief with Mentors. At 2PM, schedule for individual meetings was posted for all to be told the result of the last 4 days. Patch ceremony was conducted later on, where those fortunate received their patch and photo with representatives from their region, further followed up with an overview meeting of our new responsibilities as JN official and a “bronze-whistle” award was awarded to the most rounded official. Good byes and phone numbers exchanged with your new fellow partners.
Day 5.5: We headed straight back towards Minnesota and arrived the next morning at 4AM, this time paying less attention to the corn fields, but more so sharing our experiences with some level of relief.