Q&A with Candidates 2023 – 1 of 2

Question 1: Do you have any expertise in finance, technology or any other field(s) that might help your service on the Board?

Cindy Henderson: I am the Chief Commercial Officer running the sales and marketing teams for a clinical research organization.  In this role I have create pricing strategies, budgets for customer contracts and manage the internal budgets for the P&L having to report to executives and our board of directors on a regular basis.  I have extensive experience using excel .  Serving as the current Treasurer of NAFA has also provided me great insight to the finances of the organization.

Dana Nichols:I don’t have any expertise in finance or technology, but I did gain some experience regarding NAFA’s specific finances and technology issues by serving on the NAFA Board for two prior terms.  We would review the financial documents (balance sheets, quarterly & yearly profit and loss statements) at each meeting and compare to previous years.  During my terms we updated the current EJS systems, redesigned the database, and transitioned to the current online election system.  I found our current election provider and worked with them to adapt their system to our unique voting system.

My legal background includes drafting rules, analyzing statutes, and working on committees.  One of the things I love most is working on rules.  I love coming up with just the right language to try to solve an issue without creating lots of other unintended consequences.  That kind of puzzle is right up my alley.  I was chair of the rules committee during my previous terms on the board.  We also worked to train judges and regional directors on rule changes.  I truly believe things should be as fair as possible.  Communication and training go a long way towards fairness for everyone.

Emily Neal: I have worked in non-profit IT and accounts payable/receivable for the last 8 years. I have a master’s degree in public administration with focus on non-profit budgeting and governance.

Jonathan Bescher: I have been involved with the EJS, along with helping out Dave Thomas on the new version of the EJS.  I have been the EJS coordinator for CanAm for many years, and have to reprogram multiple parts every year.  Along with helping out Dave with EJS, I have also been a guinea pig for his heat trackers and APES system.

Being involved in swimming, I have brought in other ideas from another organization on different things that they do.

Paula Johnson: My background is in pubic relations and marketing as well as public speaking. I also have over 20 years experience in managing large teams of people as well as project management. I believe that my skill set in this area would be of great benefit to both the board and NAFA as an organization. Growth of our sport is a priority for me and I feel there are opportunities to market our sport to a large general population through various mediums, including social media.

Jackie Alcott: I have graphic design and photoshop skills, not as an occupation but at the amateur/personal small-business level. I have made logos for bands, t-shirts for friends, and other decals for dog sport equipment.

My previous teaching career was in the special education realm, which was team based. As the head of that team, I developed the leadership skills to coordinate, delegate, etc. and am more than comfortable heading a group or committee. 

Lastly, I am currently retired from teaching and am a stay at home dog mom, leaving me ample time to work on tasks to help NAFA work on maintaining a great organization.

What is your opinion about NAFA events that are partnered with the AKC and ESPN (e.g. the “made for TV” Invitational and the CanAm classes)?

Jonathan Bescher: I think they are great.  I would not offer so much time to help them out.  When the first Invitational was offered this past May, I jumped at the opportunity to help, along with judging the event.  I showed up early to make sure things were setup.  When asked to be on the selection committee for the 2023 Invitational, I immediately said ‘Yes’.  I think what AKC/ESPN have done for the sport may not be seen in the immediate future, but as these events keep being shown, more and more dog pet people will get interested.

As for the CanAm classes, I think it is great.  It allows the best teams in NAFA to showcase their stuff in front of everyone.  I realize that not all the fastest teams are able to make it every year, but they have the opportunity to go.

When you look at how many different sponsors they have gotten since the first CanAm shown, then they wanted the invitational to happen with not a lot of time, shows how many people are watching the events.

Paula Johnson: It is fantastic to see our sport highlighted on a national stage. I do however think that there are ways to build on this opportunity. For example, we need to make sure that we are showcasing not only the fastest teams, but teams that are comprised of dogs that might not be the fastest but are seen more in the general populous. People need to be able to see themselves in the lanes with the type and/or breed of dog they have at home. There are lots of these types of dogs out there in our clubs. Finding ways to ensure that these are also part of what is shown during these broadcasts is important in my opinion. Also, we need to look at how we can advertise how people can get involved in the sport at a grassroots level during these broadcasts. Small interviews with individuals about how they got into the sport for example is one possibility. Highlighting junior handlers, making them a special part of the event is another idea.

Jackie Alcott: I feel NAFA partnering with AKC and ESPN gives our sport more positive exposure and more possibilities for growth. After watching the first invitational that took place in Concord, NC I really enjoyed how they segmented the different parts to really teach people in more detail how the game of flyball is played. I also noticed quite a bit of improvement in ESPN’s production quality with each successive event. I think this shows that they are buying into the sport. Fostering that relationship further should benefit all parties.

Cindy Henderson: I love the partnership with the AKC and ESPN.  This is bringing tremendous exposure to our sport.  I think that this is giving NAFA sponsorship opportunities which provide funds allowing the organization to provide premier events to the competitors while managing expenses as well as being able to invest in future technologies.  I hope to continue working with NAFA, AKC and ESPN on ways to expand the events across North America, showing exciting high quality racing while also highlighting the many breeds that participate in this sport.  I am hopeful we can find a way to showcase more multibreed teams.

Emily Neal: I think partnered events are a wonderful way to spread the word about the sport! I know that I have had several new flyball students who wanted to try it out because they saw it on TV.

I would like to have a more equitable way to choose the “made for TV” invitational. Every year there are Regular and Multibreed regional winners, and I think hosting an AKC/ESPN tournament with those teams could be a great way to get participation from across North America and also eliminate any hints of favoritism. It would also allow people to see all different breeds and speeds of dogs playing, not just the fastest and the dogs bred for flyball. People are more likely to want to start flyball with their pets if they see dog that look like theirs on TV.

Dana Nichols: I believe these types of events are wonderful for promoting our sport.  AKC and ESPN have handled production very professionally.  I was present for the 2022 CanAm production.  I took photographs during finals, so I got an up-close look.  The video and lighting equipment involved was incredible.  There is no way we could replicate such a professional set up.  And their production turnaround time was incredibly quick.  The program aired just a few weeks after the event.  ESPN knows sports and AKC knows dogs.  I think it is a perfect match for us.

The best thing about the partnership is that we can get flyball out into the public.  Hopefully this will generate even more interest in the sport.  I had non-dog friends (I do have a few) contact me and excitedly say they had just seen flyball on TV.  This type of exposure is a great way to get new people involved.

What are the greatest challenges in your Region for playing NAFA Flyball?

Emily Neal: Region 15’s biggest challenge in my eyes is venue space, cost, and equipment. Many Region 15 tournaments are hosted on turf, which is not preferred by many clubs and some don’t even run on it. This limits the clubs who will play on any given tournament weekend, which limits entries and financial viability of tournaments.

Even when we can find venues to have a matted flyball tournament, costs of the rental and/or costs of matting can cause a team to decide not to host. In my 9 years in Region 15, I can think of over a half dozen venues and/or clubs that don’t host anymore.

I believe these factors limit participation. We don’t see clubs from other regions coming to our tournaments, which is very different than our neighbor to the south Region 9. Most R9 tournaments have clubs from other regions, like R15 coming. Very rarely do we see outside of region teams come to R15. While this may not be a “challenge”, per se, it is something I would like to see change. Flyball is a communal sport, that is why we play and love it. Seeing new faces at tournaments is always exciting. I would love to learn what works for other regions to try to apply it to my home region, as well as work with other regions who may be having the same problems to find solutions.

Cindy Henderson: I am from Region 13 (NY and New England states).  I believe one of the greatest challenges we face in our region is how to grow the sport to allow for more club and teams to be playing flyball in the region therefore making hosting tournaments an affordable venture for clubs.  The scarcity of affordable venues for tournaments is a real issue and if we are not able to get enough entries for a tournament then the host clubs risk losing money which puts these tournaments at risk of happening at all.  The region is doing our best to support each to make the tournaments viable however growing the sport with more clubs and teams will be vital to the success going forward.  Getting new people into the sport and helping them come together to form new clubs by providing mentorship and assistance in training and during tournaments are things that several clubs are trying to do in the region. 

Jonathan Bescher: The biggest challenge has been coming out of COVID and limited tournaments.  I am lucky to live in a region where multiple regions can come to, and there are tournaments about every month.  We rarely had limited tournaments, until coming out of COVID.  There were teams/clubs that were left out because of numbers.  Now that those tournaments are starting to become unlimited again, and 2 ring tournaments, those problems are starting to go away.  We also have teams that are entering multibreed teams.

I guess the next challenge is needing some smaller clubs to fill out the schedule.  We have some pretty large clubs, and sometimes having to wait for them because of close races between their teams makes the racing day go slower.  Another thing would be the racing format.  You have the point people, and the I want to race people.  Trying to find a schedule that will get enough heats in to make the point people happy, and not so many races to make the I just want to race people happy is sometimes a challenge.  Luckily, everyone seems to understand and the tournament hosts do their best to accommodate both.

Jackie Alcott: One challenge I notice in the past few years with starting a new club and trying to grow is limited tournaments. Our region is fairly large and can have one or sometimes two tournaments in a month. However, I would say that recently over 75 percent of them are limited draws. These limited draws  resulted in times when my club was unable to play. I understand that larger clubs are affected as well but in different ways. I would love to maybe see clubs pair up and co-host in order to help make more tournaments unlimited.

Dana Nichols: In our region, Region 19 (Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming), the biggest challenge is finding affordable and available venues to host tournaments.  Unlike many regions, we are spread out over a big geographic area.  Tournaments in other regions are 8-16 hours from most of the teams in metro Denver.   This makes our region a bit more isolated than most.  We have several teams willing to host local tournaments.  Colorado’s unpredictable weather makes outdoor tournaments challenging.  Most of our teams prefer to compete indoors on mats.  For many years, we had a local indoor training facility that was big enough to host tournaments.  It was fully matted, centrally located, included all equipment (including full time matting), and was reasonably priced.  The owner lost the facility during COVID and the new facility she was able to rent was not large enough for tournaments.  After COVID, as we started trying to host tournaments again, we ran into facility fees that were much higher than we were used to.  Additionally, clubs now needed mats and equipment to be able to host.  I was able to buy equipment, including mats & an equipment trailer, from a team that dissolved several years ago.  I was able to get the equipment updated and make it available to rent for NAFA tournaments at a nominal cost.  I’ve even offered to haul the trailer.  I wish that had solved everything, but we are still on the hunt for more facility options. 

Paula Johnson: Our region (2) has seen a significant decline in both tournament entries as well as clubs hosting NAFA tournaments. Several clubs have either folded entirely following the pandemic, or now have much smaller numbers and instead of entering 2 or 3 teams are barely able to put together one. There are various reasons that have lead to the current state and no easy solutions. I think it is important to have town halls within our regions on a regular basis, so that people can come together and hear one another’s concerns and, more importantly, ideas for solutions. Open conversation is always better, and often leads to positive change. It is hard to direct inquiries about Flyball when there is limited places for them to learn the sport and to find a team willing to take them on and mentor them. I know our club gets multiple inquiries a month. Having a “try flyball” day is one possibility to bring people out. However, there needs to be a willingness to take on new “green to the sport” people.

Getting to Know the Candidates 2023 – Dana Nichols

My background is relatively broad, both in general and with dogs. I was born in Memphis, Tennessee, but my father was Air Force, so we grew up everywhere – Greece, Kansas City, Georgia, Hawaii, the Philippines, and finally Colorado. My undergraduate degree is in biology from Colorado State University and I have a law degree from the University of Colorado. I worked as a Colorado public defender doing indigent criminal defense for about 10 years. I took a three-year break during my public defender years to do civil litigation – primarily construction defect litigation and medical malpractice defense. I was appointed as a county court judge in 2007 and am still on the bench.

I rode horses growing up, competing in Pony Club, 4-H, Arabian shows, and intercollegiate competitions. When I got to law school, I no longer had access to horses and got my first dog in 1991. We started obedience out of necessity, but quickly started competitions. My first dogs were Labrador Retrievers. Over the years I did retriever hunting tests (1 Master Hunter, 2 Senior Hunters, and a bunch of JH titles), obedience, agility, rally, and tracking. I was also an AKC retriever hunt test judge.

In 2002, I found flyball. I joined the first club in Colorado, RUFF, and was secretary for our first Colorado flyball tournament in 2003. I became a flyball judge in 2005 and retired from judging in 2015. I took up photography and started shooting as Altitude Dog Photos, LLC in 2016. I primarily shoot flyball and was an official photographer for CanAm in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2022. I currently own Altitude Flyball Club in Colorado. We actively compete in our region, host, and travel out of state for tournaments. Since 2020, I have been the Regional Director for Region 19 (Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming). I also compete in dock diving and am training in herding & obedience. My current dogs are Border Collies, an Australian Shepherd, and several height dog mixes.

Finally, I have some direct experience on the NAFA board. I served two terms 2007 – 2012. I was secretary all but one year. I also served as chair of the Judges Committee and Rules Committee. During my terms I helped produce the first measuring training video, produced the rulebook most of those years, transitioned NAFA to the current online election format, and was a part of the first CanAm Classic.

Sandia EnchantMutts – Region 19 (Tijeras, New Mexico)

NEW webpage: https://sandiaenchantmutts.wixsite.com/sandia-enchantmutts

Contact email: EnchantMutts@outlook.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/enchant.mutts.7

Sandia EnchantMutts is a flyball club that has been around for a while but inactive over the last few years.  We’re re-forming from almost the ground up. We are currently recruiting new members, so please contact us and see if this is the club for you and your dog! We’ll likely do other things together, as we grow, but right now our focus is flyball.

Our club really believes in positive training, inclusivity, teamwork and doing everything we can to help our dogs succeed in the ring.

Current brag: Our Kelpie, Cayenne, recently received her FMX. That’s not easy to do in the SW part of the US.

No one is required to compete–though we would love to have you join us. Coming out and spending a couple of hours with us, training your dog and helping us train ours is lots of fun, too.

Getting to Know the Candidates 2023: Cindy Henderson

Cindy Henderson has been playing flyball since 1999 as the captain of the Weston Whirlwinds who then merged with the Patriot Flyball team. Cindy is a Supervising Judge and has been judging for almost 20 years and was honored to be selected as a CanAm Head Judge four times and the CanAm Championship Judge twice and was named Judge of the Year in 2018.

Cindy served as the Regional Director for Region 13 for over 10 years, became a member of the NAFA Board of Directors in 2020 and has served on the Communication Committee, Judges Committee, Finance Committee and is currently the Treasurer. She is dedicated to helping grow the sport of flyball through initiatives such as the partnership with AKC/ESPN, local demonstrations and education of individuals on the sport, and increased marketing efforts.

Flyball is a sport for everyone, and every dog and Cindy is passionate about making it available to all breeds and a sport for teams at all levels to have fun with their dogs and friends. As flyball moves into the future Cindy would like to see NAFA continue to look for ways to improve and advance the sport forward for everyone. Critical to moving the sport forward will be advances in technology, being fiscally responsible, and finding ways to bring new teams and individuals to the sport of flyball.

Cindy currently has 3 dogs, an 8 year old and a 3 year old Border Collie both of whom are currently playing flyball and retired from the sport a 14 year old North American Shephard.

Getting to Know the Candidates 2023: Emily Neal

Hello everyone! My name is Emily Neal and I’m running for the Board of Directors. I got started in flyball with my mix breed Blanche in 2011. You may remember me as “the one with the greyhound”, as I ran my greyhound Mordecai for several years as well. I have played all over the East Coast and Midwest and made invaluable friends who are now more like family. My husband Bryan Roper is also involved in flyball and you may know him as a judge. 

Personally, I have an undergraduate degree in legal studies and master’s degrees in urban planning and public administration. I have extensive work experience in non-profits and deep knowledge of non-profit leadership and administration. I’ve worked in communal services, animal rescue, and currently in historic preservation. 

I started playing flyball in Region 9, but Region 15 has been my home region since 2013. I feel fortunate that I am able to straddle 2 regions, as it allows me to get to know a wide variety of clubs and hear many different thoughts and feelings about flyball and its future. I teach flyball classes in Richmond, VA and am a passionate advocate for the sport — everyone who has ever met me now knows about flyball! My mix Blanche recently retired, and I am working hard to get my rescue beagle Tannis up and running. 

I look forward to serving the flyball community on the Board and am excited to answer your questions for you to get to know me better! 

Getting to Know the Candidates 2023: Jackie Alcott

My name is Jackie Alcott, and I currently live with my husband and our pack of pups just outside of Charlotte, NC. Originally from “The First State,” Delaware, I’ve found a home in Region 9 where I first discovered and fell in love with Flyball.

My first real attempt at getting into Flyball was just over a decade ago. We had adopted a shelter dog who was sweet but fearful. VERY fearful. I was searching for ways to gain her trust and to build her confidence in the world around her. We decided to give Flyball a shot. We attended a few introductory classes with Turbo Paws and something clicked. I saw that sweet but fearful shelter dog turn into a confident competitor. Flash forward ten years and Nan is now an Iron Dog. Needless to say, we were hooked on Flyball.

What I learned over those first few years, and what I feel is the true “spirit” of Flyball, is that this sport is for everyone. Human and Canine, all are welcome, and all can benefit in so many ways.

Eventually, my competitive nature led me to co-found my own Club, Bitches Be Crazy. For the past several years we have been growing and improving as a club. My experiences with owning a club and captaining multiple teams has helped me to further learn the ins and outs of the Flyball world, and to appreciate the importance of organizations like NAFA.

Outside of Flyball, my background is in Special Education. I hold a Masters Degree in Special Education and Exceptional Children, with a strong focus on Applied Behavioral Analysis. I spent several years teaching students on the Autism Spectrum at the Delaware Autism Program. I led a multidisciplinary team of professionals, creating and implementing individualized education plans for our students and executing those throughout the school year. While my experience with applied behavioral analysis and teaching has translated very well to the world of dog-training and dog-sports, I’m hoping that my leadership experience can translate just as well.

I’m a forward thinking individual who believes in positive change. I’m passionate about Flyball, and hope the sport continues to grow and evolve for the better. I hope to be part of that continued growth and evolution.

Getting to Know the Candidates 2023: Jon Bescher

My name is Jonathan Bescher and I live in North Carolina with my wife and daughter. I have been involved with Flyball since 2002. I became an approved judge in 2009, and a supervising judge in 2017. In 2020, I was elected to the Board of Directors, and I am finishing up my first term. I my first term as a board member, I was nominated to be the Chair of the Judges committee. I have also been a member of the Rules committee.

In 2017 I won Judge of the Year, and also won the Josh Beissel award. I have judged in many different regions, along with being a Head Judge at CanAm in 2012 and 2015. Since 2017 I have been the judging coordinator at CanAm. Since 2014 I have taken on the task of being the CanAm Gift Basket Coordinator. I have also judged at the first AKC Flyball Dog Challenge held in Concord, NC. I was on the selection committee for the 2020 FCI World Championships, and am now on the selection committee for the 2023 AKC Flyball Dog Challenge.

My wife and daughter both participate in Flyball, and we will travel to as many tournaments as we can. We have 3 dogs that currently play. My wife runs 2 of them with my daughter running our oldest Border Collie.

Outside of Flyball, I own my own software business, specializing in Point of Sale software and services. I also am an Assistant Coach for one of our local USA Swimming clubs. This past year I was awarded from NC the Phillips 66 Volunteer of the Year award. I have been on the board of directors for my swim team for 3 years as the Vice President.

I am seeking a 2nd term on the board because I fell that I can keep contributing to the board, especially through the judges and rules committee. I would like to keep progressing the training and the relationships between the judges and the RD’s. I feel that I listen to the flyball community and that I am available willing to answer any questions that they may come up with or help in anyway I can.

Getting to Know the Candidates 2023: Paula Johnson

I am excited to introduce myself as a nominee for the NAFA Board of Directors director position for 2023. For those who don’t know me I am part of team Zoom! in Region 2 and a NAFA judge.

I have been involved in dogs and dog sports from a very young age, starting with dobermans and rough and smooth collies. I currently share my life with 5 dogs including a whippet, saluki, 2 miniature bull terriers and an adorable 10lb pound puppy and of course my wife Kim (captain of team Zoom!).

I have trained and competed in many different sports from obedience, rally and agility to tracking and nose work, but Flyball came into my life just over 12 years ago. It has been a blessing to find such an amazing community in dog sports.

I am recently retired from a career in public relations and marketing as the Associate Registrar, Student Recruitment at my local university, McMaster. I believe that the skills I bring to the table include leadership, change management, marketing and project development. Having served on many committees as well as being Chair of our provincial body, I am familiar with working with and leading teams of people. I have also been the President of my local dog training club for 2 full terms.

I believe strongly in giving back to a sport that has given me so much. That is the reason I decided to become a judge and why I am running for the Board. I recognize that NAFA doesn’t run on its own and takes a great deal of effort from some very dedicated volunteers. I think I bring the perspective of clubs that maybe do not aspire to be the best or the fastest, but that want to have fun with their dogs and their teammates. At the same time, I think the job of any member of the board is to represent all clubs and to learn to listen and understand their needs and balance sometimes competing ideas.

As we all come out of this pandemic (fingers crossed), we are in need of growth and rebuilding of our sport. I personally think it is an exciting time with lots of opportunities to be innovative and continue the good work that is already underway by NAFA. We can always do better.

I hope I get a chance to answer your questions and to represent you on the board.

Meet Your 2022 NAFA CanAm Judges

One of the many enjoyable aspects of CanAm is getting the opportunity to race under judges from other regions that you may not otherwise see. Each brings their individual background, experiences and style to the flyball ring.

Let’s get to know them a little better.

2022 NAFA CanAm Championship Judge
Peter Wesdyk

Region 8
Breakaway Flyball
Years judging: 17
Years playing flyball: 28

“I became a judge because I wanted to do everything I could to foster and improve the sport of flyball.”

Peter currently has four dogs: Buffy (Shepherd mix) who is “just” a farm dog, Jinx (Border Collie) who is retired from flyball, Mindy (mix) who currently races, and Pi (mix) who is in training.

Away from flyball, he enjoys playing with home automation, growing his vegetable garden, playing video games, and camping.

Did you know? “I am a super geek by nature. I set up home automation, write code to make it all work and track all of the stats off my personal weather station.”

Maija Doggett
Region 18
Alaska Dogs Gone Wild
Years judging: 5
Years playing flyball: 18

“My region only had one resident judge and he never got to run dogs because he was always judging. Adding myself as a judge has given him the ability to play the game in addition to judging it!”

Maija currently has four dogs, all rescues: Diva, a Siberian Husky who has been Region 8 MVP and is Maija’s second rescued Siberian to play flyball; Busy, a Portuguese Podengo Pequeno who is ADGW’s Multibreed height dog; Buddy, a deaf Sled Dog who has earned 1,374 precious points; and Prima, a Siberian puppy recently adopted from a local shelter who is in training to perpetuate Maija’s Siberian flyball fantasy.

When not playing flyball, Maija enjoys supporting the fight against cancer for humans—and dogs.

Did you know? “I married my husband so I could have Dog in my name! Also, I love the music of Flaco Jimenez!”

Paul Ferlitto
Region 14
The Gamblers
Years judging: 21
Years playing flyball: 22

“I became a judge because I love the sport and wanted to help promote flyball.”

Paul currently has two dogs, both rescues: one mixed breed and one Border Collie.

In addition to flyball, Paul enjoys golf.

Did you know? “My wife and I have traveled with and raced 13 dogs. I have judged in at least twelve states, and my wife was Region 14 Regional Director.”

Photo by Dave Strauss

Mary McElligott
Region 2
(Plays mostly in Region 2, lives in Region 13)
Spring Loaded
Years judging: 3
Years playing flyball: 15

“Tim and I both decided to become NAFA judges in order to give back to a sport and organization that we love. Having a built-in relief judge comes in handy!”

Photo by Dave Strauss

Mary currently has four dogs: Tek, 10-year-old Border Collie, retired flyball dog; Disco, 10-year-old Miniature Aussie, retired flyball dog; Tessie, 8-year-old Border Collie, current flyball dog; and Bliss, 4-year-old Border Whippet, current flyball dog.

Before an injury sidelined her, Mary was a runner and competed in two Ragnar Relay races (200-mile team road race). Now, when time permits, she enjoys yoga.

Did you know? “I’m the mother of two incredible humans: a 28-year-old daughter who is an attorney, and a 25-year-old son who is a schoolteacher. I’m an Enrolled Agent and have been a tax accountant for the last 25 years.”

Tom Lamont
Patriot Flyball
Region 13
Years judging: 6
Years playing flyball: 12

“I became a judge because I like the excitement and the challenge. Also, because I was at a tournament in Dover, New Hampshire where Cindy Henderson was the only judge, and she was unable to get a break or run her dog because there was no backup judge, so I wanted to prevent that from happening again.”

Tom currently has three dogs, all of whom have played flyball: Jessie is 14 and retired; Dillon is 11 and still running; and Cedar is 6 and full of energy.

Besides flyball, Tom enjoys golfing, hiking, biking and kayaking on Cape Cod and in New Hampshire.

Did you know? “I am a retired police officer and a Marine. I have two sons and nine grandchildren. I have been happily married for 49 years.”

Stephanie Treviño
Hairier Jump Jets
Region 9
Years judging: 8 years
Years playing flyball: 13

Stephanie currently has three dogs: a Sheltie, a Border Collie, and a Mini American Shepherd.

Outside of flyball, Stephanie supports her two kids who are busy doing theater and dance. She’s looking forward to finding another hobby in 12 years.

Did you know? “I’m from Washington State—and I have snowboarded since I was seven but haven’t in 14 years since moving to Virginia.”

Fighting For Freedom Flyball Club – Region 16 (Redwood, CA)


We are a small, competitive flyball club in the San Francisco Bay Area dedicated to modern, safe flyball dog training and enhancing each canine/handler team’s potential. We love our sport dogs, we love engagement training, and we love fast flyball competitions!

Our members are active in dog sports and compete in multiple activities, including Agility, Dock Diving, Barn Hunt, Bikejoring, and Canicross. We are committed to safe training and work all our dogs through a clear, concise flyball foundations program, ensuring top performance and consistent flyball runs.

Our club loves racing and running fast lineups in west coast tournaments throughout CA, AZ, NV and CO. We love competing in Division 1 and hold numerous records in multiple regions.

What to Expect at Your First CanAm

By Mackenzie Maidl

Since I attended my first CanAm in 2017, it has become my favorite “family” reunion and I look forward to it every year. I remember initially walking into the building and being completely overwhelmed. I had no idea what to expect. It was late Thursday night, and we were some of the last people setting up. It was dark and quiet, and the building felt so big. For anyone planning their first CanAm experience, here are a few things I wish I had known before I arrived.

Be prepared to experience all four seasons in one day! We have faced everything from snow flurries to 90°F/32°C temps. Regularly checking the forecast leading up to the weekend—and then double checking—has saved me many times from over- (and under-) packing. Don’t forget both fans and coats for the dogs, as mornings can start cold and really warm up as racing gets going during the day.

You will be able to get into the building on Thursday to set up your crating area. Your space will be pre-marked, but make sure your captain has confirmed where your club will be located. It is a big building, and you could be wandering for a bit if you aren’t sure which end you are crating in. Don’t be afraid to spruce up your area for this special event! VIP lounges, couches on wheels, and refrigerators have all made appearances at CanAm in the past.

If your club is anything like mine, the meal plan is just as important as the racing plan. Racing lasts all day and there is not a break for lunch. You are able to bring in your own food, just don’t forget the extension cord, power
strip, and duct tape to plug in the crockpots and coffee makers. There is a concession stand in the building if you don’t feel like pre-planning all your meals. You will also want to make sure you bring some extra money to grab
some ice cream from Hook’s, which is maybe a little too conveniently located directly across the street.

Emily-Rose outside Hook’s

Depending on how many teams your club has entered you may have more free time between racing than others. I personally like to spend this time checking out the many vendors. I like to stock up on new collars, leashes, crate pads and tugs for the year. A walk around the building to check out the fun and unique crating areas is also one of my favorite ways to kill some downtime, in addition to watching racing.

Be prepared for it to be an all-day event and don’t rush out after racing! Friday and Saturday everyone comes together for awards. I highly recommend bringing a chair and a drink over to celebrate your and your fellow competitors’ success for the day. Awards are a great opportunity to get to know other clubs you may not get to see any other time during the year. After awards there will be mat time to work those green dogs and baby dogs you brought along. If at any point during the day you do need to leave and want to come back for awards or mat time, be prepared to pay to reenter the fairgrounds.

Gathering for awards

The biggest surprise to me was that you don’t know the Sunday racing schedule until late Saturday night/early Sunday morning. The Sunday seed times are based on your best time from Saturday and NAFA works hard to put together a competitive schedule for teams of all speeds and skill levels. The fastest eight Regular and fastest four Multibreed teams are invited to the CanAm Class. Those invitations are received at Saturday night awards.

Racing will be stopped throughout the day on Sunday for the CanAm Class elimination races which are fast and intense. It’s win-or-go-home racing and you won’t want to miss it! All the Classic Class Regular and Multibreed
divisions race on Sunday in a round-robin format for their chance to race on the big stage in the Division Championship races. And there are still Open division races to watch and participate in.

Championship Ring at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Invitational races will be filmed and broadcast on ESPN2.

The Sunday finale is so exciting! Once all the Classic Class round-robin racing is complete, the final races to determine the Regular and Multibreed CanAm Champions take place. Everyone gathers around to cheer on the
teams that have worked and trained so hard for that moment. It is truly some of the most fun racing you will experience. After that come the Championship races for each Classic Class Regular and Multibreed division.
With the cancellation in 2020 and travel restrictions/limited turnout last year, I am hopeful we will see more new faces than normal at CanAm in 2022.

Nose to Nose – Region 3 (Mankato, MN)

We are a group of friends who love playing with our dogs. We are always looking for new friends to join our team!

Contact us on our FB page:

Our club believes in positive, motivational training, including treats, toys, and most of all, PRAISE. The best part of our flyball club is the bond that is created between owner and their dog(s), as well as the friendships that are part of our club.


Some of our brags:

Dobby is the fourth top-scoring Min Pin in NAFA history and received region 3 MVP in 2017.

Diesel is the seventh top-scoring Weimaraner in NAFA history.

Josie is our highest point earner – 44,262 and is a Flyball Grand Champion.

We have several dogs who have earned their Iron Dog title!

Q&A With Candidates 2022 – 2 of 2

Question 1: NAFA has attempted to become more transparent in recent years. Where has NAFA succeeded and where do you feel that there is still room for improvement?E

Emily-Rose Allred: I think Nafa has been very clear in how they have handled flyball during this pandemic and have made responsible choices for their competitors. I think they could have been more clear with WHY they have gone ahead and chosen laser measuring as well as showing the reasons why carpal measuring did not work. I think many people do not understand why it was chosen, which comes down to a lack of communication.

Russell Evans: Easily accessible Board meeting agendas and minutes are examples of transparency.

Kathy Haney: The Board has been very good lately at posting dates and times for Board meetings, asking for input on important items and being available to all members of NAFA. We have done this through the NAFA website, Facebook page and meetings with judges and RDs. I believe we can be even more transparent by updating all of our social media platforms and possibly by Board members reaching out individually to as many NAFA participants in areas near and far to them. Information on reaching Board members is available on the website, but maybe part of the updated platforms could include better profiles and more information on reaching out to the Board Members.

Meagan Langs: NAFA has made a lot of recent changes and they have communicated those changes to the people quicker than in years past which I believe has been a great thing and a huge positive for our sport. For example, NAFA has made changes widening the boxes and jumps which were discussed and implemented very quickly compared to changes in the past. I would like to see NAFA be more innovative and less reactionary to changes in our sport. To do this, we will have to be even quicker with our willingness to try new ideas and communicate responses to the flyball community. If we come up with new ideas and implement them before other flyball associations then this will change the perception that is held by some that we are slow and unwilling to innovate. We can also do this by making our website easier to update.

Question 2: What board committee would you see yourself as most qualified for and why?

Russell Evans: Disciplinary. I’ve learned that compassion and objectivity are needed in equal measure to effectively evaluate a disciplinary problem, and have strived to develop these qualities.

Kathy Haney: I really enjoyed being the Chairman of the Election Committee last year and, if I am elected to the Board again, I would like to resume that role or at least be able to help by being on the committee. It can be a complicated process and I believe it helps to have done it before. I am currently on the Rules Committee and would like to continue on there as well, possibly adding the Disciplinary Committee which would be a good fit with the Rules Committee.

Meagan Langs: I believe my experience as a teacher, paralegal and Regional Director would help qualify me for any of the committees and I would be happy to sit in on any of the committees. I have skills working with Drafting/Writing, Organization, Multitasking, Training/Educating, Researching, Communication, Microsoft Office, Adobe, Foxit Phantom PDF, QuickBooks, WordPress, DropBox, Social Media sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Yelp and Google.

I would like to help with communications, marketing and an “idea committee”. I know there isn’t a current “idea” committee but wouldn’t it be great to have a committee that brainstormed new ideas and worked with the other committees when needed?

I would like the purpose of each committee communicated in more detail to the flyball community. Information about how often they meet and what types are things the committees are working on each month should be presented in some way. These details help people understand the work that goes on behind the scenes and also lets people know things are happening even if the board meeting notes haven’t been posted. Additionally, it would help me (and others) fully understand what a specific committee does.

Emily-Rose Allred: I think I would do a great job on the marketing committee, I’m personable and have a great love of flyball that oozes out of me. I’d love to help bring more people to this sport.

Question 3: As a board member, how would you address and prioritize updating NAFA’s aging technology?

Kathy Haney: I have to admit, I am certainly no technology whiz, but I do see the need to continue to update our technology as often and as quickly as possible. The best I can offer is to support the efforts being made to have new starting systems and to get them made and out to the tournaments in a timely manner.

Meagan Langs: I believe updating NAFA’s technology should be our number one priority. Updating our technology could help us to stand out among other flyball associations and make us a leader in innovation.

Ideas: It would be great to have smaller updated lights/timers that also recorded the dogs individual runs and team times. I believe NAFA spends a lot of money on shipping the large lights from one state to the other and updating these systems could help to make the load smaller and hopefully make the shipping costs less. How many light systems could we have purchased if we didn’t have high shipping costs for the current EJS lights? Has this been researched? How many light sets do we need as we sit here today? If the lights were smaller would we have more teams willing to “hand carry” the lights from tournament to tournament?

The NAFA website needs to be updated. Updating our website will help in communications and make sure that news is being communicated quickly to all members and will help grow our sport.

Emily-Rose Allred: As a board member, how would you address and prioritize updating NAFA’s aging technology? I know our lighting system needs renovations but honestly I think our website is in dire need of an upgrade. Of all of competitors we have to have a graphic designer and coders that could help freshen up our site and make it more user friendly.

Russell Evans: Lighter, easier-to-ship timing systems. Current EJS is very heavy and awkward. A simple, low-cost “start dog” trainer (to reduce early starts). Find ways to move towards paperless tournaments.

Q&A with Candidates 2022 – 1 of 2

Question 1: How do you see yourself managing your work/life balance along with the time commitment of board members?

Kathy Haney: I have been managing that for the last 3 years during which I have been a Board member.  I am currently semi-retired from the business my husband and I have run for the past 30+ years.  Spending a lot of time babysitting young grandchildren, but can use my flyball board time to relax from that, lol.

Russell Evans: My family life and my work have always been my priorities. Finding the required time to satisfactorily support being a board member will be a challenge, but a welcome challenge. Flyball has been an important part of my family since 2003 and we’ve always managed by working together. Communication and understanding expectations are vital in this regard.

Emily-Rose Allred:  I am very lucky to have a job that allows me to take care of many personal matters while at work. I’m in a position where my job is not time intensive nor particularly emotionally needy. I have a lot of energy and time to give to another outlet. 

Meagan Langs: I know that board members are expected to attend and participate in board meetings and various committees.  I also know they are expected to help with the hosting of CanAm every year.  If elected I will be able to actively attend and participate in board meetings, and at CanAm.  I also promise to not take on more than I can handle during my term. On a personal note, my “kids” are my dogs & cat.   My husband works from home and takes care of our fur kids when I am away traveling for flyball etc. I have the support of my family to live out my flyball dreams.

Question 2: Being on the board sometimes requires compromise or even sometimes things not going your way. Even if the vote or item doesn’t go your way, are you willing to support the stance of the majority?

Meagan Langs: I understand majority rules.  I also understand that I need to be supportive of the process.  One of the things that makes NAFA so amazing is that we do have a say on things.  Voting is awesome and I am thankful for the opportunity to do so even if I don’t always agree with the end result.  I also know that just because something goes one way for a time it doesn’t mean than things can’t change down the road.  I have found that many things in life and in flyball come full circle.  So, if things don’t go my way at a certain time, it doesn’t mean it won’t change if I stay positive and play the long game.   I am not going to quit NAFA, the board, or flyball because I don’t like a particular vote or decision, and neither should anyone else.

Emily-Rose Allred: I have worked almost a decade in and with animal rescue. I spent a lot of time compartmentalizing and having to work through decisions I didnt agree with, as well as having my mind changed over time with stances I didnt think I would ever come around to. Having an open mind is crucial in situations like this.

Russell Evans: I would always support the majority decision. That is the only way a board can function in support of NAFA members.

Kathy Haney: Absolutely.  I have done it in the past, on the NAFA Board, while running our flyball club and in my professional life.  None of those are dictatorships and you always have to realize that there is a reason and need for having more than one opinion.  Board decisions are made by the majority after research and discussion.  In order for this to work all members need to stand by the final decision, whatever side of that decision they are on.

Question 3: What are your thoughts on flyball equipment specifications (e.g., boxes and jumps)?

Emily-Rose Allred: Flyball is evolving and changing. It only makes sense that the equipment should be changing. I have really liked what ive seen since the box  size change and as a club have discussed the larger jumps. While I know there will be a cost factor which would be difficult for many clubs I do think that larger jumps are the way that the sport is trending. I think we need to make sure we are evaluating safety in the sport as dogs are only getting consistently faster. 

Kathy Haney: I believe there is always room for improvement and that the sport of Flyball needs to keep evolving.  I am in favor of any changes that improve and/or make our sport safer and more efficient.

Meagan Langs:  I think we need to be open to exploring new and safer equipment and options for our dogs and people.   As a team captain I fully understand what it takes to buy equipment, haul equipment and replace equipment.  I also know that it will cost money, it will be more to carry, and it will be expensive.  Do I want to have to buy the equipment, build the equipment, or haul bigger heavier equipment?  No, I don’t.  However, my inconvenience is not more important than dog safety.  I have run on wider jumps as recently as last month at a flyball tournament.   I can promise you it was safer for the dogs.  Our dogs ran on the wider jumps one week and then attended another tournament on the usual smaller width jumps the following week.  Afterwards we discussed did we see any issue with the big jumps?  Did our dogs perform differently from one week to the next? Everyone I have talked to has only had positive things to say about the wider jumps.  Additionally, our dogs didn’t have any issues adjusting from the big jumps back down to the smaller width jumps the following week, the dogs seemed to adjust accordingly.  I believe the dogs will and could run faster on the wider jumps if given the opportunity to use them long term.  If you truly don’t believe wider jumps are safer take some time to review videos of dogs crashing over the jumps.  I am sure some instances you would still have injured dogs but if it decreases the amount of injury by even a few dogs isn’t it worth it?  As we all know sometimes crashes happen and there is literally nothing you as a handler, or a team member could have done to prevent it.   Anything we can proactively do to make the sport safer for the dogs is something we should seriously consider.   

Russell Evans: I like the idea of wider jumps and would like to see this become part of the racing standard. Like you, I’ve seen collisions from time to time and all reasonable steps must be taken to avoid them.

Regarding flyball boxes, Section 1.1 (e) (v) of the NAFA Official Rules of Racing, “Judges have the discretion to declare a box unsafe and therefore not usable” is a very important point. Boxes in poor repair should be excluded when a judge makes such a determination.

Question 4: Do you have any skills that could help the board (marketing, programming, accounting, etc.)?

Russell Evans: I’m formally trained in project management and have extensive experience with planning and writing.

Kathy Haney: Nothing specific, but I am willing to help out in whatever is needed and will put in every effort to build up our sport, making NAFA a welcoming, fun organization for people and their dogs

Meagan Langs: I am good at getting people excited about flyball, flyball tournaments, flyball practice, etc.  Regardless if I am captain or a team member I have been the “team communicator” for years. I think it is important to communicate with people in a positive way.  Find out what they are thinking, explain why certain things were decided, and let them know you hear them, even if what they are saying doesn’t fit with the plan right now.    

Emily-Rose Allred: I’m pretty infectious on social media. I think the board has done an amazing job the past few years getting flyball out there and can only hope to help grow the sport. I think continuing an online presence and making flyball accessible is so important. Racing is only fun if we have clubs to race! 

Getting to Know the Candidates 2022: Meagan Langs

My name is Meagan Langs and I have been playing our great sport for the past 15 years. In flyball I have participated as regional director, co-captain, and most importantly, a team member.  In my professional life I am a paralegal with extensive experience in assisting with drafting correspondence and various legal documents along with cross-functional expertise in social media, sales, management, training, and education. Prior to working in the legal field, I worked as a teacher for twelve years.  I strive to find ways to help increase productivity and efficiency with positivity.    

I live in Mesa, Arizona with my 4 dogs, 1 cat, and my husband Chris.  We have had a wide range of flyball dogs:  a rescue height dog, pure breeds and a purposely bred flyball mix.  My background helps me see the different perspectives people have within our sport.   I believe it is important to see the individual pieces that make up the big picture when making decisions as our sport moves forward and becomes more mainstream in the world of dog sports.     

Getting to Know the Candidates 2022: Kathy Haney

Hello all,

I would like to introduce myself once again to all of the NAFA community.  My first term on the NAFA  Board of Directors is coming to an end and I would appreciate the opportunity to continue working for this great organization.

Way back in 2001 I was watching a new station called Animal Planet and they just happened to be highlighting a dog sport called Flyball.  I had a ball crazy Lab/Boxer mix at the time and thought, “Oh wow, they invented a game just for my dog!”  It just so happened that there was a flyball team near me which was starting a new class.  We signed up and the rest is history.  I started my own club, Surf City Flyball, in 2008 and we have been running in Regions 6 and 16 ever since.  Our team consists of some very fast dogs and some not so fast dogs.  We love them all the same.  I started with a large “pet” dog and every dog I have gotten since then has been bought or adopted with Flyball in mind.  My latest dog happens to be a height dog and I think that having her has given me a much better perspective on the unique need to keep the height dog aspect of flyball intact.  Making sure the measuring process is easy and fair for everyone is very important to me.  I feel that I can bring some of our all inclusive viewpoints onto the Board so that we are sure to keep and attract participants with dogs of all shapes and sizes who want to have fun, but are not diehard competitors (at least not in the beginning).

 I have served as the Chairman of the Election Committee last year and have been on the Rules Committee as well.  I strive to be accessible to any and all members who have any questions or concerns and am always to willing to listen to what you have to say.  I appreciate that you trusted me the last time I ran for the Board and hope that you will give me your support this time.  Thank you,

Kathy Haney

Getting to Know the Candidates 2022: Russell Evans


Personal: Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, currently lives in Wheat Ridge, Colorado (Region 19). Married to Susi Evans (Launch Flyball) since 1983. One daughter, Jessica.

Work: Presently working for the State of Colorado as a System Administrator in the Office of the State Controller. I spent 22 years as a Windows software engineer for various ERP vendors and, before that, 12 years as a Security Specialist in the USAF. Attended University of Maryland, European Campus, focusing on Mathematics and Computer Science (major).

Flyball: First involvement with Flyball was as a box loader in 2004 and worked my way up to running dogs. I am very much involved with my wife in training all our dogs as well as club dogs. I run with Launch Flyball and love competing with my whippet Quid. We host 2 tournaments a year. I’d like to make a difference and have input in growing the sport and making it as safe and fun as possible for dogs and handlers.

Interests: Travel, writing, flyball.
Thank you
Russell Evans

Getting to Know the Candidates 2022: Emily-Rose Allred

My name is Emily-Rose Allred and I am running for the NAFA Board of Directors.  

I started playing Flyball in 2012 with my shelter mix Nova. She needed an energy outlet and loved a tennis ball. I googled “Dog sports” and found flyball. From my very first practice I was all in. I have never been a family person, but have been so blessed to have found my family within the flyball community. 

In 2018 I founded That’s So Fetch Flyball Club in Region 9. We started with 4 core members and have quickly grown to 12 active teammates with many wonderful dogs. In my day to day life, I am an administrative assistant for an outdoor lighting company and can be found pretty much 24/7 on the internet talking about flyball. 
I share my life with 7 dogs (and a husband) all of which have played flyball or are in training. From a French Bulldog to a sports mix, I am equal opportunity in my home and in my club for all people and dogs. 

I chose to run for the NAFA board because of my passion for the sport.  I would like to help promote our sport and help current competitors have the best time possible. My goals would be finding ways to open dialog between competitors, as well as make resources for captains who need help and feedback.  I know personally navigating as a Captain, I have needed support from many other Captains in my Region and wish there had been easier access to information or mentorship.  Most importantly, I would like to serve on the NAFA board because I would love to give back to the community that has given me so much. 

Sharing the Sport of Flyball

REMEMBER YOUR first flyball dog?

By Jayne McQuillen and Dede Crough

This year at CanAm XII, NAFA teamed up with AKC.TV and ESPN to showcase flyball to a broader audience. The CanAm Championship races will be broadcast on ESPN2 on Sunday, October 17th and TSN2 on Monday, October 18th (check your local listings). Such fantastic exposure–combined with more people looking for ways to have fun with their dogs– means we’re likely to get a lot of inquiries about how to get started in flyball. Here are some great ways you and your club can play a part:

Get them hooked!

  • Invite interested people to visit a tournament and experience the excitement of racing in person!
  • Invite new people to watch a practice or, even better, try out some simple things like recalls with their dog.

Classes or workshops

  • If you are open to new members and/or teaching classes, get your club featured here on the NAFAblog. Contact us at cc@flyball.org.
  • A “try before you buy” workshop is a great way for both the instructor and the dog owner to determine if flyball class is the right choice for a dog. You could make the fee for the workshop very reasonable and apply it to the cost of the first session of classes for anyone who registers before the next beginner session starts.

Help connect people

  • If you aren’t currently taking new club members or offering classes, reach out to other area clubs, your regional director, and training facilities so you know where to refer anyone who contacts you for info.
  • If you offer classes but your club isn’t taking new members right now, find out which nearby clubs are taking new members so new dog/handler teams have somewhere to go once they get closer to being competition ready.

Teaching flyball to new people can be challenging; it takes time and patience. Although there is more upfront effort required to train both inexperienced handlers and green dogs, there are big payoffs in welcoming new people. When I look at Skidmarkz, almost every handler started with no experience, but a lot of desire to learn. They have all grown into amazing handlers and team members who each bring unique skills to our club. I know Skidmarkz is stronger for helping people get into the sport.

My first dog was a challenge to train. Zoe wasn’t fast, and she didn’t take to the sport easily. But it was that dog, and the training support we received from other flyballers, that hooked us on the sport. Think back to the dog that got you into flyball. Maybe you are lucky enough to still have that special dog in your life. It’s highly likely someone took the time to show you how to train that dog.

People ask, How did Skidmarkz become such a big club? How did you manage to bring 19 people and 42 dogs to CanAm? It didn’t happen all at once; all these orange people have slowly trickled into the club over the years. We’ve always welcomed those who wanted to learn and do more with their dogs. We took in some unlikely dogs with fantastic owners. We were willing to take anyone who truly embraced the sport and our club has flourished as a result. Great potential teammates are out there wanting to do more with their dogs, wanting to learn this sport. Make sure you don’t miss out on an opportunity to help them be successful and to help your own club out in the process! The sport needs you. Go Flyball!

Lots of orange at CanAm XII!

Masked Flyball – Tips & Tricks

By Jayne McQuillen

Many of us have been anxiously awaiting the return of flyball competitions! The first NAFA tournaments are just weeks away, so it’s the perfect time to look at some practical considerations for this new age of masked flyball. While the CDC is the best source for mask-wearing recommendations, below are some extra considerations, especially for flyball participants.

Practicing in the mask you plan on wearing at a tournament can help you identify potential issues. Keep in mind that, while any mask may be tolerable for a short-duration practice, it might become intolerable when worn for a whole day of racing.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Does the mask move a lot on your face when you yell?
  • Does the fabric suck into your mouth when you take a deep breath?
  • Does it move off your nose or mouth when you do regular flyball tasks like box loading, shagging balls, or holding your dog?
  • Does it muffle your voice so much no one can hear you?
  • Will the ear straps irritate you after wearing the mask all day?
  • If you wear glasses, will your glasses steam up and render you unable to see the lights for that perfect start or pass?

At first, our club entertained the idea of club logo masks, but not every mask fits every face comfortably. Make sure the mask fits your face well; even if that causes you to stare wistfully at the club logo ones and wonder why you have such a weird-shaped face!

So…you’ve found it: the BEST mask to fit your face at flyball. Now consider getting spares of your favorite mask! No one likes a damp, moist mask stuck to their face all day. Need I say more? If you are crating outside, or the tournament is not climate controlled, you might get really steamy under that mask.

Other things to consider:

  • A mask lanyard is a great way to avoid losing your favorite mask during the racing day;
  • Ear saver devices can drastically increase your comfort & mask fit when playing flyball;
  • You can be a hero by sharing clean, spare masks with your fellow flyballers: maybe pick up a box of 50 disposable masks and hand them out like candy!

The best source for info on mask-wearing is the CDC’s guidelines; however, do give some serious thought to the special considerations masks in a tournament setting will mean. I wear masks at work and out in public, but the masks I use for those do not withstand the rigors of an active sport like flyball.

Meet NAFA’s Awards/Scoring Coordinator – a Healthcare Professional on the Frontlines of the Pandemic

Get to Know NAFA People – Andrea (Annie) Taylor

NAFA is grateful to Annie for her years of dedication, keeping scoring and awards distribution running smoothly! She lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with her dogs Tattle, Siren, and Charlie. As well as the work she does for NAFA, Annie has been a full-time Respiratory Therapist for over twenty years. Annie often works long hospital hours (often 60 hours a week) and is on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you, Annie, for all you do!

The second in a series designed to let readers know some of the people behind the scenes at NAFA

By Dede Crough

If you have ever received a NAFA title certificate, pin, or plaque, you can thank Annie Taylor. As Awards and Scoring Coordinator, Annie is responsible for sending out all the recognition swag from NAFA four times a year.

A member of Hawkeye Hustlers in Iowa, Annie started playing flyball in 1999.

“I made a new friend that had a border collie,” she recalls. “She was looking for something to do with her dog, and I tagged along to a practice. I was hooked instantly, and I played with teammates’ dogs for over a year before I got a dog of my own.”

In 2005, Annie took over as Awards and Scoring Coordinator after a teammate retired from the position.

“Prior to the end of the quarter, I take an inventory of all the pins, paper, and postage supplies. When each quarter ends, there is a grace period that occurs while we wait for all the results to be submitted and scored, with a little extra time for corrections.”

Certificates are mailed to team captains; pins are mailed to Regional Directors. The certificate and pin reports are pulled from the database, sorted by team, and printed. They are then hand sorted. Certificates with names that are too long or have any errors are corrected and reprinted. Certificates and pins are then inserted in envelopes by club or region, weighed, postage is added, and any customs forms necessary applied.

Plaques go through the same beginning steps. Then every attempt is made to contact clubs to confirm plaque spelling, as you may have noticed if you read the NAFANews email group or follow the NAFA Facebook page. If there is no response to those requests, one attempt will be made to contact team captains individually. “It is not possible to email each person individually,” says Annie. “That would involve far too many emails and hours!”

Participants often want to switch from their dog’s registered to call name (or vice versa), need to make changes to last names, or want to update the handler name to another family or team member. Once confirmed and created, plaques are shipped directly from the manufacturer to the Regional Directors.

We asked Annie:

What’s your favorite part of the job?

I love connecting with competitors all over North America. Everyone is so happy to receive their awards. I greatly enjoy hearing the stories of success that everyone shares and their love for their dogs.

What’s the most challenging aspect?

Trying to balance all the time required for an awards run with my real life! I currently have three dogs that compete in flyball, two jobs besides my NAFA duties, and I am in the middle of my certification and training process to become a Sound Healing practitioner.

What do you wish people knew or understood about what you do?

I wish that everyone understood that it’s a time-consuming process. I don’t think people realize the hundreds of hours that it takes to complete a run, and the thousands of emails I receive. Occasionally something gets lost in translation or missed. Most people are very understanding, but some are not. Everyone that works for NAFA takes time away from their lives to do so. I think that sometimes people forget that this is not our only job.

Please be patient with all of us. If I don’t return an email from you on that day, I’m likely working a long stretch of overtime and sleeping! But if you don’t see your tournament results posted in a timely manner (3-5 days), please email again. Sometimes they get lost or buried in all my correspondence.

I always love seeing the creative names people have for their dogs, but I marvel at the fact that people don’t understand that what they type into the CRN form is what comes out on the certificate! If something isn’t correct with your dog’s name, it’s probably because you entered it that way. Of course, there are a few rare exceptions with database issues, but most of the errors are human.

Is there anything else you wish to say to the NAFA community?

I really enjoy getting to know so many amazing people! I love hearing your stories of loss and victory. Please keep sharing them. We all love our dogs so much!

Q&A with Candidates 2021 – 2 of 2

Question 1 – Which Committee(s) do you think would be a good fit for you and why?

Lynda Mantler: I am eager to work diligently where needed should I be a successful board candidate. Areas I feel I would be able to contribute best are: 

Marketing Committee – Continue with the Junior Participant pin and CanAm shirt competitions.  Incent Junior Participants by bringing in extra recognition for them; bring a wider array of NAFA branded products available to competitors and judges.  Smaller items could be offered for purchase as tournament prizes. 

Judges Committee – Regular dialogue with judges as they are often first to see issues that need to be addressed.  Ensure we properly equip our judges with meaningful training and trust them to do the job.  Provide a prompt response when NAFA is made aware of issues brought forward by judges, competitors and RDs. 

Technology committee – There are some people out there in the flyball community who have great ideas and are working on ways to improve technology such as the way stats are recorded at tournaments.  Let’s get them talking with the technology committee.  

Election Committee – Continue to explore ways to engage our constituents in the process.  Encourage interested competitors to run for election.  Ideally, NAFA would have representation from many geographic areas. 

Executive Committee – I am currently serving as secretary and would love to continue in that capacity.  Having the minutes available to be read as soon as possible is an important part of communication with the flyball community. 

Emma Mak:  First, I would like to continue on the Rules Committee, as I’ve been a member since 2017 and chair of that committee since 2018, so I bring experience, as well as my in-depth knowledge of the NAFA database and things like regional, NAFA and ROCC calculations to the table. There will be rule changes coming based on the new measuring system rollout, and as a co-chair of the Special Measuring Committee (tasked with coming up with recommendations for the rollout for the board), I’m well positioned to steer the Rules Committee as we make the necessary adjustments to the rules.

Last year I chaired the newly formed NAFAblog Committee, and would like to continue working on that as the articles produced are a means of engaging the flyball community, as well as a way of attracting new flyballers by featuring clubs that are looking for new members and/or offering lessons.

I would also like to continue as a member of the Technology Committee, as I’m NAFA’s statistician and have the most in-depth knowledge of the database. The committee will continue to focus on further development of new EJS components, as well as longterm plans for moving the sport forward with tournaments becoming paperless. In the shortterm, I’ve been using a great online scoring program developed by a competitor at my club’s tournaments, and hope to see if NAFA can make this available. I would also like to see the website be updated to use WordPress so as to become more easily updateable and compatible with mobile devices.

Jayne McQuillen:  I think I would be a good fit for the Rules, Marketing, Disciplinary, Technology Committees.  I am already on the Communications & NAFA Blog Committees.  I am a good fit for the Rules Committee because as a Regional Director, I have to be very familiar with the Rulebook.  Competitors routinely asked about rules, rule changes, and interpretations of the rules.  I have discussed many rule related issues with judges, the Executive Director, and sent items to the BOD for further clarification.  I also drafted the RD Handbook which required sifting through the Rulebook to narrow down which rules specifically apply to the RD.  I think I would be a good fit with the Disciplinary Committee because I do know the rules and have dealt with issues further forward!  While I am thrilled with the new EJS system in development, I think there is more technology that NAFA can continue to make improvements.  Technology also involves websites, databases and any emerging avenue we can utilize to make competing or hosting a tournament easier.  Tying technology into Marketing & Communications efforts is a good way to make sure NAFA doesn’t miss out on new ways to keep the sport modern and relevant.on the ground as an RD.  I have a strong interest in marketing the sport of flyball.  To me, marketing is not just making people aware of flyball and aware of NAFA.  We need a more concentrated effort to not just make people aware of the sport, but to help clubs turn them into competitors.  We also need more support to help with club development in areas where there are no existing clubs.   Last, I love technology and I would love to help push the sport

Alex Le: I can add value to any committee but would love to be a part of the Technology Committee.  Given my background with the firms here in silicon valley, I can help drive some strong relationships to help with building a better website or even partnering with vendors to help streamline costs for streaming during our CanAm tournament.  I know alot of work goes into building our new lights and would love to help out where I can.

Question 2: What things have you done to help Flyball in general and NAFA specifically in the past?

Alex Le: I have loved flyball ever since I discovered it with my first labrador retriever.  He was never the fastest but he enjoyed his time playing and I enjoyed meeting so many incredible people all over the US, Canada and now throughout the larger flyball community accross the world.  I’ve been a huge advocate for the sport and driving new members by teaching beginner flyball classes and encouraging new participants to try the sport whenever they see us practicing or working foundational skills.  I am currently a member of the Communications committee and would love to be more involved to help provide additional transparency or in whatever capacity is needed to help NAFA grow.

Jayne McQuillen: As a 20+ year competitor and team owner, a lot of what I have done is on the ground level.  First and foremost, I have offered the opportunity to learn the sport to people in my local area. Being willing to teach classes, to train new dogs off the street and get people excited about the sport is really important!  As the team owner I’ve overseen Skidmarkz growth from 8 people in 2002 to 20 people today, most of whom were brand new to the sport of flyball.  My husband and I have built own flyball training building, which we rent out to other local clubs and individuals.  That enables more people to practice without investing in lots of equipment.  We also have hosted fun matches as an opportunity for local clubs to get tournament like experience.  As a Regional Director, I’ve also helped put on an Open House, in the largest Metro area of Iowa.  This helped the first Des Moines Area flyball club get great exposure to interested people and there are now 2 clubs in that area!  I try to provide connections for mentorship, training and equipment resources to help those teams starting out.  On a regular basis I am contacted about clubs in our region and send interested people to the nearest clubs.  I try to maintain an accurate contact list and know which clubs are teaching classes and/or accepting new members.  I work to maintain an active, informative and fun regional Facebook page that keeps competitors up to date. Recently I started a Facebook group for flyball just in the St Louis, MO area.  There has been a continual stream of interest in flyball in that area, but no active clubs.  My hope is to organize a similar Open House style event in that area, when it’s safe to do so.  Hopefully, this will jumpstart club development in what was a hotbed of flyball years ago.  I have tried to increase NAFA’s profile by participating in the Purina Pro Plan Incredible Dog Challenge and I followed up by contacting local news outlets to promote the airing of that show, as well as the sport of flyball in my area.  I’ve also a volunteer with the Communications Committee and the Special Measuring Committee.  

Emma Mak:  I feel very strongly about NAFA flyball. Before my last three years on the board, I was a non-board committee member on the Rules Committee, Technology Committee and Election Committee for several years. I’m also a Co-Regional Director for Region 2, working mainly on the non-event duties, such as approving sanctioning and schedules. I think one of the best ways to contribute to NAFA is to host tournaments! I’ve been a Tournament Director and/or Tournament Secretary for my club for a few years hosting popular, themed events in our region.

Lynda Mantler:  I have helped organize and participated in many public flyball demonstrations such as fairs, Canada Day celebrations, Giants lacrosse games and even for a church group! I also was one of the organizers and trainers for introductory flyball lessons for many different sessions over the years. We handed out flyers that were produced by our club and also the NAFA brochures. And of course, I talk about flyball to anyone I meet who does not know about it!

I have a strong work ethic.  Over the years I have done a lot of volunteering to help clubs at tournaments.  I love to work as line judge, on the timing table or wherever I am needed.   I have served as tournament director and tournament secretary and had a few opportunities to sub in for our Regional Director.  All great learning experiences!

For NAFA, I have served on the Board of Directors for the past four years and have had excellent attendance at meetings.  I have worked on:

  • Disciplinary Committee and have been working on an ad hoc committee regarding procedures for Unsportsmanlike Charges.
  • Judges Committee – working on the committee to oversee education requirements, development of new judges and advancement of judges.
  • Executive Committee – In my role as secretary, I have worked at getting the board of directors meeting minutes out in a timely fashion. Having the minutes available for participants to read is part of the efforts to help communication. 
  •  Special Measuring Committee – the committee goals are: 
  • Make Measuring Easier for Competitors, Judges and RDs
  • Make Measuring Consistent
  • Ensure fair checks and balances in the overall process
  • Chair of the Marketing Committee.  Working on the ongoing yearly projects and looking to expand on that as noted above. 
  • I have brought forward ideas from competitors and some of them have been approved by the board and implemented. 

Working at CanAm to support the event.  My job the past few years was organizing volunteers to ensure we had people to work on the timing tables, line and box judge positions for up to 7 rings.  On race days, it means getting everyone to their position on time and organizing breaks and lunches for everyone so racing can run smoothly.  I spent a lot of time doing all of these jobs as required.  It meant long days of being on the go (38,000 steps one day), but it was a challenge and a great feeling to accomplish this. 

Question 3: Open – Anything you would like to add as a closing statement for your Board of Directors candidacy?

Lynda Mantler: Why vote for me:  Passion for the cause:  FLYBALL!

I will support the flyball community and express my opinion at meetings

I will diligently prepare ahead for each meeting.  I will make the time to do this.

Eager to serve on committees.

I will bring your ideas and concerns forward to the board

I enjoy serving organizations that I am involved with.  I have prior board experience having served on nonprofit flyball and community club boards and various industry boards.  I have served as secretary and treasurer and director at large. 

Some people excel at flyball skills training.  That is not my forte, however, I feel I have much to contribute to the board of directors. 

I realize that the status quo is not good enough in organizations.  If we stay the way we are, we are actually falling behind other organizations that are making advancements and taking some of our members.  We need to continue to evolve and improve.  There is competition out there which definitely makes us better.  We need people who are open minded and willing to make changes that will make our sport better.  i.e., new awards, new tournament formats, new technology, exploring ideas from competitors. 

We all need a fresh start every year. It’s important that we go into the New Year with an open mind and a new way of thinking. I am really looking forward to racing again.  It has been a long time since most of us have been able to see our flyball friends and feel the excitement of competition.  I am an optimist and believe we will make flyball work in 2021.  It may not be the way we want it to be at first, but we will get back into the lanes in some fashion and appreciate every bit of it.   

The final date to vote is January 13.  Please be sure to cast your vote and vote for Lynda 😊  I would be honored to serve on your behalf.  

Thank you!

Emma Mak:  I’d just like to say thank you to those that are taking an interest in our responses to these questions and those posed in the live chat. I hope to continue serving on the board during this difficult yet exciting time, as we move towards re-opening and rolling out a new, robust measuring system. Looking forward to seeing you all in the lanes when we can be together again!

Jayne McQuillen:  I thank everyone for taking the time to get to know all of the NAFA Candidates.  I see volunteering on the NAFA BOD as way that I can give back to the sport that has given so much to my family & I.  I have already stepped up and volunteered as an RD, and on several Committees.  Overall, I hope everyone has gotten a sense of how much I value promoting this sport to anyone.  Current flyballers obviously know the sport and love it.  However, I think there is a missing link between people knowing that Flyball exists and people having the opportunity to train & compete in it.  I know many flyballers have had the chance to try out new sports in the last year due to COVID.  The opportunity was there to try those sports out, when it’s safe, Flyball needs to be just as easy to try out.  We all can make sure we grow our own sport by not turning away interested people.  We can increase participation, grow teams, grow clubs and in the end grow tournaments by helping make sure the sport is accessible.  I also invite anyone who has questions for me to email mcjayne@yahoo.com.         

Alex Le:  Thank you so much for taking the time to read and consider all the candiates.  There are some amazing people here that will be able to provide great support for the board and help NAFA grow into a great organization.  I am so excited, as I am sure everyone else is, about getting back into the ring for racing and seeing all my friends again in 2021.  I understand that change is difficult and hard and we’ve all been through alot in 2020.  I hope that everyone takes a look at my strong background in management and my comitment to providing transparency and support to all players.  As a board member, you have my promise to bring you transparency, to ensure that you will be listened to and that your concerns and issues are addressed.  This is the way to help all of us create a great NAFA organization.