Pro School Epilogue 2-8-15

After a few days, it’s back to work and reality. I did not look for any games this weekend, but one of my associations has a tournament next weekend, so hopefully I can pick up a few games. I just wanted to wrap up a few thoughts about pro school, as this will be the final blog entry.

The overall experience with TUS was nothing short of fantastic. It really was a life changing experience for me in so many ways. Not in a dramatic way, but more of achieving an accomplishment, something that you may have never thought you’d do. There were a lot of little realizations about myself, the ability to stick it out, the ability to write this blog, and the realization that hard work and a positive attitude can have an impact on other lives. It was definitely difficult and not for the faint of heart, the long days and physical and mental demands were a challenge. But that is what I had hoped for. When I went to Wendelstedt’s 2 week course in 2013, I was disappointed for a couple or reasons. One, I thought to myself, “I made the effort to come all the way out here, why didn’t I just stay and complete the 5 week course?” It felt like unfinished business to me, and that is a big reason why I returned to pro school. Second, while the field drills at Harry’s were excellent, the overall professionalism and organization, particularly the classroom work, was disappointing. Everything besides the field drills seemed to be off the cuff and with little advance planning, or not much thought or effort put into it. They never seemed to analyze their methodologies and look for ways to improve upon that. It seemed like they just wanted to rest on their laurels of being the best, and that they didn’t need to change, self analyze, or improve.

I expected that professional umpire school should be like a PhD program of umpire training. I can tell you that TUS was just that and more. Every aspect of what they did was carefully planned, structured, and well carried out. From the meals, lodging, classroom work, field work, tests and everything else, no stone was left unturned. The organization and attention to detail was unsurpassed, and they even made some slight changes every so often in order to try things out, or change some things that weren’t working that well. It was evident that they met probably daily to discuss how things were going. You need self analyzation to improve any organization, and TUS understands this concept. The instructors all had a common goal of improving the students, no matter the skill level or the individual ability to implement certain things. They worked with students body types and individual characteristics to make you look and perform the best to your abilities. They treated me no different that the 22 year old looking for a job. And while I connected better with a few of the instructors, they were all helpful and professional. We’ve all been to clinics where some of the instructors don’t mesh well with students, or seem to want to be somewhere else. Not the case here. Everyone of them worked hard each and everyday to help us and they all were committed to the school’s mission. You just won’t find better instruction anywhere, period. That statement is not intended to demean other clinics, because there are fine schools, clinics, and camps everywhere, but for the length of time and instruction, it’s hard for anyone else to come close. I have to say, TUS was pretty darn impressive.

Now I know what you may be thinking, there must be some things that you may have not liked. It couldn’t have been all peaches and cream, and of course it wasn’t. Obviously in a situation like this, there are some things that I struggled with and didn’t like. But those things are more of an individual dislike as opposed to the school procedures and policies. My minor critiques are more personal dislikes than a reflection of the school. Understand that a school has to do certain things and it’s their prerogative and it’s up to us to conform, or make suggestions as I did. We all filled out a satisfaction survey and I believe they wanted honest feedback to help improve the program. So the following is really only to help someone make an educated decision about attending school, and I also want to provide an honest assessment of my whole experience. However, as you will read, they really are minor. They wouldn’t let you wear sunglasses on the field, and I struggled with that, more so if you were playing as an outfielder. In the bright sun, with a worn ball, it was hard to pick up sometimes. There were also very few breaks during class and on the field. During each 4 hour class session, you were only given a total of about 9 to 12 minutes of break time, broken up into 2 or 5 minute intervals. 2 minutes is just not enough time for a restroom break, get a drink, and refocus. Only one time do I remember getting 3 five minute breaks. On the field there were hardly any breaks given, either. While water was always available, I’m concerned that students were not properly hydrating. During each 5 hour field session, you were either doing your reps, fielding, or running. Sometimes the students would take time out from running and just stand outside the running lane to rest. No matter what, you were on your feet for 5 hours straight, and it would have been helpful to sit down for a spell and rest your feet and legs, and we only got to do this a handful of times. There was hardly a student without aches and pains, a few with significant injuries that limited their ability to participate, and the medical director was very busy. Sometimes I think he was the most popular staff member there.

So the question that I have been most asked, “Was it worth it?” The answer: Absolutely 100%, and TUS was unequivocalby the right choice for me! Now if you are thinking of going, you must do some homework, and ask yourself some tough questions if this is the right choice for you. The days are long, typically 13 hours from when I woke up to when I was finished with dinner. You must be  physically and mentally prepared for the challenges and rigors of school. You also must have the understanding that if you are already a pretty good umpire, you will not leave there with a dramatic change in your game. You will definitely improve, they give you the tools and knowledge to elevate your skills, but it is up to you to go back home and put that training to work. It takes a long time to develop a good umpire, it won’t happen over night.  You have to decide for yourself if pro school is going to give you what you want. You can still be a good umpire without pro school, and conversely, pro school will not always improve someone. The decision to attend or not should be carefully thought out. It is a considerable expense and time commitment, so make sure you weigh all the factors, not just for yourself, but for your family and future.

With that being said, it was great experience for me, and I want to thank all of my friends and family for following along. I hope it was enjoyable and provided you with some insight to professional umpire school. I especially want to thank my wife and kids for their selfless support in my endeavor. I couldn’t have done it without you. Thanks to Warren at U-E for his RSS feed. It was nice to see that automatically posted to the site each night. Thank you for all the kind words and support from my U-E brothers and sisters. Thanks to everyone, staff and students, at TUS for a great experience, and keep up the good work. Thanks to crew 10 for being so awesome. I’ll always be your “Super Chief!” I’ll never forget you guys. And a special thanks to Mike Felt for being a great instructor and friend to me while at TUS. I sincerely appreciated the opportunity to share my journey. Hope to see everyone on a field someday!

Day Of Reckoning 2-4-15

Wednesday was our final day at TUS, and the students would finally find out their fate. We had breakfast as usual in the cafeteria from 7-8am. The mood was jovial and somewhat relieved as we were finally done and most were going home today. Our flight was leaving at 5:30pm, and I was anxious to get home. I have missed my wife and kids something fierce, and although I don’t really like to fly, I couldn’t wait to get on that plane. After breakfast we all assembled in the classroom for our individual meetings. Most students were dressed up in hopes of getting the call to the evaluation course. One of the instructors explained to the class the process that we would be starting in a few minutes. He explained that each student would be brought in to one of the 3 or 4 individual rooms to find out their fate. In the evaluation room, you would find out whether you were offered placement in the evaluation course, placed on the reserve list, or that they did not have anything for you. In the meeting you would not find out your ranking or ability level, but rather you would receive a report card in the mail. After your brief meeting, students were instructed to exit the building through a separate door away from the classroom. Students were told that they could congregate outside the building, but to stay away from students still waiting to learn their fate. For those moving on to the evaluation course, a meeting was scheduled for 9:30am. The evaluation course runs from the 6th through the 13th, so students wanting to stay on campus were told to make the necessary arrangements with the front desk. Accommodations for the evaluation course is paid for, but students are responsible for lodging costs for the next two nights. We were told that the meetings were in random order, so don’t read into who goes first or last.

As the first couple of student names were called, the tone of the room turned quiet and somber. I suppose reality was on the horizon and some students lives were about to be changed, possibly forever. We were all sitting at the round tables left over from the previous nights banquet, and there was idle nervous and quiet chat going on. I made some small talk at my table and tried to keep it light as I felt the anxiety level rise. A few more students went, and then it was my turn. I don’t know what got into me, but I wanted to lighten the mood. As I got up, I looked to the class and said, “Sorry guys, but I’m going to be taking one of your jobs.”  They all erupted in laughter. I then told them in all seriousness that I enjoyed my time with them and I hoped for the best for everyone. I left the room with a round of applause and I hope I lightened the mood. I’m sure it was perhaps one of the most stressful times in some of the students young lives. In my room was three instructors, and of course I already knew my fate. They told me that from my original application paperwork, it was already known that I didn’t want to be considered for a job in professional baseball. (The sign up application asks you if you are looking for a job or not) They all thanked me for my hard work and that they appreciated that I chose TUS for my professional training. I thanked them as well and told them I had a wonderful experience and I appreciated all they had done for me. After we exchanged handshakes and goodbyes, I went outside looking for some of my fellow classmates to find out what happened.

There were only a few students congregating when I was finished with my meeting. I was mostly waiting for Bill and the others in my crew to find out how they had faired. As the students trickled out, there were no real surprises. By the end of the course, you could tell who would most likely go. I was most interested in my crew members results, and although not all went, I’m happy to report that three of crew 10 were selected to the evaluation course and one went on the reserve list. I’m sad for the three that didn’t make it, but I am thrilled that Ben, Aaron, and Dustin did. They worked hard and deserved the call. I hope they do well in the evaluation course and their “Super Chief John” will be rooting them on. I’ll keep in touch with them and see how they do. I stayed around until most of the students came out. Some were happy and some were disappointed, but most took it well. There were a few tears and a couple of students were visibly upset, but that is to be expected under the circumstances. After saying our goodbyes to some of the other students, Bill and I packed up the rental car and headed for Orlando. We gave another student a ride as he did not make it either. I was hoping he would not join us for the trip, but that’s the way it goes.

Our flight went well and we landed in San Diego at 7:30pm. It had been a long day but there was nothing better than to see my wife again when she picked us up. After dropping off Bill at his house, we headed home for a reunion with the boys. It was great to see them and be back after being gone for so long. Like Dorothy said, “There’s no place like home!”

Banquet Night 2-3-15

Ok, so I lied. I will have a couple of more posts before I wrap up the blog, only because I have too much material to put into one post. I’m actually home now, (more on that later) so I’m writing this from sunny San Diego. I just wanted to share some thoughts and experiences about the banquet. Although I thought the event would not bring me much to report on, I was quite wrong, hence the additional posts. After finishing up our final field reps on Tuesday morning, we had the afternoon off to rest up and get ready for the student banquet. The awarding of our diplomas and a keynote speaker was on the agenda. The event was held in the classroom and we all arrived at around 7:00pm. Most were dressed up, but a few were in casual clothes. The instructor all wore suits with a bow tie as the fashion accessory. There was food and a cash bar which was much needed after 4 weeks! The room was set up reception style with round tables, and other than the instructors tables, the seating was not assigned. MLB umpire Jeff Nelson was the keynote speaker and spoke for about 45 minutes. Earlier that week in class, we wrote down potential questions for Jeff and at the banquet Dusty Dellinger picked some of those questions to ask Jeff. They even had a couple of videos showing some of Jeff’s work, including a great bang-bang play at plate with two runners trying to score, one right after the other. Jeff called this one his best play so far in the bigs, and if you find the video on YouTube, you will know why. But what was real interesting was to see how human the MLB guys really are. He was very candid about how sometimes they just don’t get the right angle to see a call, and in describing the above play, he just said he reacted and called what he saw, not being sure if the second runner was actually tagged. Jeff was very humble and a great speaker, and we all appreciated him taking the time out to be a guest at the banquet.

Unbeknownst to me, there were six awards handed out that night as well, and I’m going to break from protocol and mention the names of the award winners. Two awards for top academic scores for first year students went to Brian Walsh and Harrison Silverman. I think they averaged somewhere around a 95 or 96 average on their test scores. They are both great students and umpires. Four more awards were for individual achievements on the field at TUS and off the field. The Hustle Award went to French-Canadian student Mike Boulianne. Mike worked his tail off and always hustled and had a smile on his face. He actually lives about an hour from where my Mom grew up, so we had a nice connection. His dream is to be the first French-Canadian umpire in the bigs, and let me tell you, he is good enough to do just that. The Lifetime Achievement Award went to John Dowdy for his 20+ years of volunteer service to Little League, and for his selection for the 2015 LL World Series. A great man  and very deserving. The Courage Award went to Japanese umpire Shun Okumura, a sixty-something year old umpire whom we affectionately called Grandpa. Shun did not speak much English, but he was a student favorite with his calm demeanor and gentle smile. Shun actually had the last rep of the school with the entire class watching. Darren, our lead instructor, learned some swear words in Japanese from another student and on Shun’s last rep, came out as a “manager” and I don’t know exactly what he said, but Shun tossed him in a second! The entire student body erupted in cheers and applause for Shun. It was a great moment and a wonderful farewell for Shun who worked hard all month. The Positive Attitude Award was a humbling surprise for yours truly. Never did I ever expect to be honored for my work here. It was a wonderful honor to be recognized by the instructors. One of my favorite instructors even came up to me to thank me for my hard work, and told me that when he is umpiring in those dog days of July and August in AA, he is going to remember the effort I put in and remind himself if John can grind it out, so can he. He doesn’t know it, but it was hard not to get choked up. All the instructors had kind words for me at one time or another, but none higher than what Mike Felt told me.

Mike Felt is the Chief of Instruction at TUS and a MiLB evaluator. I believe he is in his fifties and has been in umpiring over 30 years. I had a great connection with him and his advice and input to me was invaluable. I just can’t describe how helpful he was to me. He is a great man and well respected by everybody. I’m hesitant to relate this story as I don’t want to come across as always tooting my own horn. For those that know me, that’s not what I’m about. But this blog was written in part for me to remember my experiences, a personal journal if you will, and this story I want to remember. Mike Felt and Jeff Nelson are very close. Mike has been an instructor and mentor to Jeff, and Mike holds Jeff in the highest regards as an umpire and a person. At the end of the evening, Mike comes up to me from across the room with Jeff Nelson in tow. Mike says to me that he wants to embarrass both Jeff and I for a moment. Mike is not one to mince words or BS someone. Good or bad, he’ll tell you the truth, and he is not one to give idle praise. Mike told the two of us that my work ethic, passion, and my will to study and learn the craft reminded him of Jeff Nelson. Wow! I was speechless. Needless to say, between the award and the comments from Mike, I couldn’t sleep a wink that night. And although I was not the best umpire there, I guess the old guy did all right.

I think I will have two more blog posts in the next day or so, and as soon as I download some pictures to my desktop, I’ll post a few on Umpire Empire.

Day Twenty Eight 2-3-15

Well, it’s finally over. We had our last field reps this morning and it’s in the hands of the evaluators. No more early morning classroom sessions, no more field instruction, no more cage work, no more discussion sessions in the dining hall. We just have our banquet tonight and then our individual interviews Wednesday morning. Today began as usual in the classroom at 8am, and after a few announcements, Kevin Winn who is involved with a couple of independent leagues, gave a little presentation. His leagues are the Can-Am and the American Association. I had not heard of those leagues, but it is an opportunity for some graduates that are not moving on to get some experience. It’s probably helpful for those who were close to go and work some high level games for a year or two, and then try again for a job in MiLB. There was also a presentation from one of the instructors on Perfect Game. That’s another opportunity and I might throw my hat in the ring as some of their events are in Southern California. After that, we hit the fields at 8:45am for our last field reps. We only had a morning session today, so each student got only got 2 turns each on the plate and bases. Time was running out to showcase your talents to sway the evaluators. By this time, I know some of the students were already picked to move on, and barring any huge catastrophes, I’m sure today wasn’t going to change that for the students that have had a repeated strong showing. It was the ones on the bubble that had to show their mettle today. The mood was good and upbeat today, and most students were calm and not really wound up tight. Everyone went out today and did their best and let the chips fall where they may. The handful of students I talked to felt like they gave it their all and that was that. I saw a lot of positivity in the students, even from those that knew they aren’t going to be moving on. Credit that to the staff who kept telling students to do their best and reminding us that not everyone would get a job. They also wanted us to trust in their judgment and that not everyone sees what they see when evaluating students. But most importantly, and I think a great message, was they told us to be honest with ourselves when determining how well we thought we did. They said some students will think they did better than they actually did, and others are actually better than what they believe. If you give yourself an honest assessment of your time here at school, you won’t be too shocked or surprised tomorrow.  Regardless of what happens, they stressed to us that no matter what level we work at, we are much better umpires because of the school and our determination to improve our craft.

Overall the field reps went well, I did a couple of things wrong in my reps, but overall, I’m pretty happy with my time here. I think today I had a little bit of fatigue set in and I wasn’t as sharp as yesterday. Regardless of where the evaluators rank me, I worked hard, learned a lot, got along with the instruction staff and students, and took all their advice and critiques to heart. Kudos to The Umpire School for assembling such a great group of instructors. I always felt that each one had our best interests at heart. They treated us all the same no matter our age or skill level. I’m very impressed at the quality of instruction here.

We have the afternoon off today to get ourselves packed up and also to get rested up for the banquet. Bill and I will be picking up our rental car this afternoon for the drive up to the Orlando airport. Other than that, I’m going to grab some much needed sit down time and reflect a bit on my experience here. As I mentioned before, this will be my last post from TUS until I get home and finish up with final thoughts by this weekend. I sincerely hope you enjoyed the blog as you traveled with me through my time here at professional umpire school.

Day Twenty Seven 2-2-15

We opened up in the classroom this morning and went over the final exam. I pulled out a 95%, but I am kicking myself because I missed a couple of easy ones that I shouldn’t have. Bill missed only two questions to my three, so I had to pay him a dollar. I’m still up two dollars overall, so I guess I came out slightly ahead. I finished the course with a 93% overall score for all the tests. Reasonably happy about that, and I probably shouldn’t complain as I didn’t study as hard as I should have. We hit the fields at 8:30am, and with the exception of an hour for lunch, that’s where we stayed until 6pm. Today the instructors were pretty much just evaluating us with minimal instruction, and they really said nothing at all to us the whole afternoon session. They set up some tables and just took notes on us. Each of us got a series of 4-5 reps both on the plate and bases, and I believe we did that 4 times each, so it was a lot of work. In between your reps, you were either fielding or running and that made for a long day. The mood of the students was more serious today, I think everyone knows it’s crunch time and there is not very much time to showcase your talents. I thought everyone on our field was very focused and we saw a lot good reps by most of the students. The instructors even commented at the end of the day that it looked like their decisions about who moves on is now more difficult. I had some good reps today and I was very pleased with my performance. I think it is finally settling in for me. Today was our last full day on the field, and tomorrow we are only spending the morning on field reps, and after that, it’s in the hands of the evaluation staff. It’s no secret that not all the students will move on, but I hope everyone gave it their all. Even though I won’t be moving on, I’m nervous about Wednesday’s announcements. I wonder what the day will be like. I’m sure there will be great joy for some and disappointment for others. I’m just anxious about how people will be taking the news. There are a lot of great guys here and of course you feel a connection with almost all of them.  I just wish there were jobs for all of them, but that is not the case, and life doesn’t always go the way you want. Some things are in your control, and others are not.

We’ll see what the next couple of days will bring. After our final field reps tomorrow, we will have the afternoon off and then the banquet in the evening.  On Wednesday, we’ll have our individual meetings to get our final evaluations, and then hop on a plane and head home. Tomorrow will be my last post here at school. I will write an epilogue when I return home and wrap it up with that. I should have those final thoughts finished by the weekend. Thanks again for following along.

Day Twenty Six 2-1-15

It’s our last off day here and I thought I’d take some time to discuss some of the principles of game management and ejections. As we all know, ejections are part of the game, and I’m sure for most fans that don’t understand umpiring, they are a part of the entertainment value of a game. Much like crashes at a Nascar event, ejections are part of the allure of the game. One only has to look on YouTube and be able to see hundreds, if not thousands of ejection videos at all levels of baseball. But what most fans don’t understand is the methodology taught behind the ejection process. While most of the instruction here is focused on rules and mechanics, we are taught some game management and ejection tips and techniques. Most of what is taught here is geared at the professional level, but can be applied to other levels as well. They teach the basic ignore, acknowledge, warn, eject guidelines. And of course, these are only guidelines, as every situation is unique. One of the interesting concepts of ejections is the magic word “You.” We’ve all heard and probably been taught at some point that if the player, coach, or manager gets personal and uses the “you” word, then he is gone. I’ve been taught by some that if an umpire ever hears the “you” word, that the manager has made it personal and he must go. But I’ve always contended that it’s the context of the statement, and not all statements are personal attacks because “you” was used in the sentence. There need to be distinctions made when a manager says “you blew the call”, or “you made a terrible call.” The subject of the previous statements are not the umpire, but rather the call itself. It is perfectly acceptable for a manager to not like a call and as long as he doesn’t cross the line, he is within his right to question a call. But when he says things like “you’re horseshit”, or “you’re terrible”, then the complaint is not abut the call, but rather your competence as an umpire. The latter is grounds for an ejection, and I’m not saying the former is not, but most often depending on the tone, it is not always. I think teaching that the “you” word is an auto eject does a disservice to umpires. So I felt somewhat vindicated when we were taught that exact same concept that I had believed in and had many a discussion with fellow umpires about. They said basically the same thing, don’t eject just because the “you” word has been used. Honestly, its hard to not use “you” in a sentence when arguing with someone. Often managers will say things like “you were not in the right spot”, or “how did you not see that tag?” Would you eject for those statements if said in a reasonable calm voice, one without rage or histrionics? You shouldn’t, but yet “you” was used.

While we can debate the use of verbiage in what determines an ejection, I think game management plays a bigger role in ejections that most people realize. In my experience, umpires that stay on top of their game, tend to have not only fewer ejections, but fewer overall problems. Umpires should not only study the rules and mechanics, but continue to strive for excellence. But assertiveness and people management are very important as well. Knowing how to talk to people and recognizing differing personalities you may encounter on the field, and how to deal with those personalities, can play a big part in whether you can diffuse or exacerbate an problem. Umpires must realize that they have the trump card, but that trump card is often misunderstood. The power is not that you can eject at any point if you so desire, but rather the power is in the other person knowing that you have a gun in a knife fight. The umpire is the one in control, he needs to dictate the direction of the argument or discussion, not to stoop to a lower level and engage an irate manager. An umpire should be professional and should not feel like he can do whatever he wants to because he holds the ejection card. Ejections are a very powerful tool and should not be used in place of professionalism, hard work, and integrity. While we all make mistakes, myself included, we can all agree that a mistake does not give someone the right to abuse you on the field. But you can often limit on field problems by using proper game management techniques. Of course, it often takes years to develop the skills necessary to master those techniques. Which begs a larger question,one that I have discussed with my umpire buddies over many a beer. What are some of the qualities that you would look for if you were recruiting someone for umpiring that had no experience? Say you had 20 or 30 people to choose from that had no experience and you wanted to pick 8-10 to train as potential umpires. And you could not evaluate them first on a field, only through a one on one interview. What do you think would be some of the qualities and personality traits that would be important in an umpire? I of course don’t have all the answers, but it is interesting to think of those particular qualities that may be necessary in someone that wants to umpire. Is there a correlation between certain personality traits and the makings of a good umpire? It’s an interesting discussion and a good one to have in a post game breakdown over food and adult beverages.

It’s the first of February and the start a new month here in Vero Beach. At brunch this morning, some of us were in disbelief that we were almost done. While the days felt long, and when I first got here, today seemed a long way away. We all agreed that the time has flown by. Have a safe Super Bowl Sunday and I will post again tomorrow.

Day Twenty Five 1-31-15

We had our final exam this morning and there were no real surprises. It was a 50 question cumulative test and as expected, the questions were variations of the situations and rules that appeared on previous exams. I felt good about all the questions, but we will have to wait until Monday to get the results. We also got back our ejection reports, but they were not graded, just checked and comments added. The final exam marked the last time we will do any classroom work. Monday and Tuesday, with the exception of getting our final exam scores, we will be entirely on the field.

After the final, we headed to the fields at 10am to work on some drills and I felt sharp and did well. We did that for a couple of hours and then broke for lunch. After lunch, we returned to the fields for more situationals, and that took up most of the day. I was excited to get into my situational plate reps, but I probably should have stayed in my room. It was late in the afternoon when it was our crews turn and after a long week, suffice it to say, I could have done better. Of course I knew where to go, but I was just a step behind, tired, and over thinking again. I have to admit, this was the first time I was really mad at myself for not doing well. I know the material, know what to do and where to go, but I just didn’t have it for this rep. Kudos to the evaluators for recognizing my disgust and helping me put a smile back on my face. It was good they recognized I wasn’t happy with what happened and understood what I was feeling. I think they appreciate guys working hard and they understand that we are going to make mistakes. Sometimes they need to get on people, and other times they have compassion, and I think recognizing that is an important quality when instructing. The good thing is that they helped me regain my focus and I had a good situational base rep. You always hate to end your day on a sour note, so finishing strong is important. Although I’m still angry over my plate rep, it feels better going into the off day ending on a good note.

Tomorrow is our last day off here and we welcome the rest. It’s also the first day of February and I can’t believe that we have been here almost a month. John Dowdy has rented an apartment down by the beach while he is here and Bill and I will go over there for a barbeque and watch the Super Bowl. It will be strange watching the game on east coast time instead of west coast. Hopefully it will be a good game and we won’t be back too late, 6am will come mighty early on Monday. Not much else to report today, everything was pretty much routine. I know some of the students are starting to get a little anxious about Wednesdays announcements. We all realize that there is not much time to make an impression. One of the things they told us today after our field reps was to not worry about how many jobs there might be and where you might fit in the pecking order, so to speak. What they want students to do is think that there is only one job, and for you to work hard and be that number one. I thought that was good advice, not settling for getting in thinking you might just squeak in, or being in the middle of the pack of students they accept to the evaluation course. While everyone knows that there are only a finite number of openings and not everyone will get in, I don’t think anyone who wants a job has given up. Everyone continues to work hard and that has a lot to do with the message of positivity and teamwork that continues to resonate here. I hope the best for everyone.