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Not Ready for Your Tournament? Don’t Quit Now!

By: Dan Henderson, DI Maryland Regional Director

You may be thinking, “Ugh. There’s no way my team will be ready for the tournament!” Well… you couldn’t be more wrong.

I became a Team Manager in 1997. At the time, I was teaching at Cascade Elementary in Maryland and our school was doing Odyssey of the Mind. The principal was looking for someone to manage a team. When I asked a colleague of mine, she said I would be perfect to manage the team. I was a second-year teacher with A LOT of ENERGY. So, I said I would manage the team.

My team was torn between the Technical Challenge and the Structural Challenge. I knew nothing about either Challenge and didn’t know how to manage a team that wanted to do either. The team finally decided to do the Technical Challenge, which was called Pageant Wagon.

About two weeks prior to the tournament, the team had a great pageant wagon, but had not started on another major requirement—the tow vehicle. I was ready to call it quits. I called our Regional Director (the role I have now). I told her that we weren’t going to be able to make the Regional Tournament. She told me that I “had to bring the team to the tournament.” I thought she meant I signed my life away and was legally bound to bring the team. What she really meant was the team had worked extremely hard for months and it would be a shame to not let them present their solution.

We went to the tournament and won first place. We advanced to the Affiliate Tournament and came in seventh out of 21 teams. Needless to say, the co-manager and I were so excited to get started the next year.

If I had quit, I would not be where I am today. In addition to serving as Regional Director, I have participated in DI as a Challenge Writer for 13 Fine Arts Challenges, served as an Affiliate Challenge Master, and have worn many other DI hats.

The point of the story is that it doesn’t matter what your team has developed by tournament day. Bring them anyway! They will have the opportunity to see what other teams have developed and understand the creative learning process that is so invaluable. Also, there’s nothing like the energy that flows through the building during a Destination Imagination Tournament.

I wish all of DI’s Team Managers the best of luck this season!