'HOT' Lanta is off and running...
It is nice to be back in the South, and at the SGAA. Most of you know that my family and I relocated from St. Augustine, FL up to the Windy City last June. It has been a great move for us, and we have settled in nicely(helped by having pretty much a Florida style Winter) but it has made my annual trip to Snellville a bit strange. For years and more trips than I can count, I have always drove to this event, packed up the trailer, and brought the rode show to SGAA. That included the inflatable knee hockey rink, tents, and a full run of merchandise. This year, I flew into Hartsfield, rented a car, and shipped out only the tourney necessities. That makes it a bit more stressful on my end, having used to just throw everything in the trailer and hit the road, and it also means we are without some of the things that players and families have associated with us over the years. Fear not, my staff, Dave "Dmac" McNeil and Chris "the voice" Treft are here and we have things locked and under control on our first day. Chris is running around with the camera, and we expect to have some highlight videos pumped out later today. Dmac has the registration under total control, and I am hanging with Paul Hughes from Black Biscuit here at our Merch booth. If you have not already, stop by and pick up a pair of our newest sublimated shorts or one of our several jerseys that we have on clearance! And hats off to Paul and Black Biscuit for making the trip down.
Speaking of registration, I would like to send kudos to all of you who are participating this weekend. The registration process has been seamless thus far because of how prepared each team has been. Dave and I were just reminiscing about the days where that was not always the case in ATL. Its great to see each of the organizations have assigned great team managers to take care of the paperwork. This makes our job that much easier so that we can concentrate on running the best possible tournament. Again, I would just like to thank you for that and say that it does not go unnoticed!
As for the event itself, the weekend started off for us playing a round of golf at the annual Tour Lizard Kings golf tournament. What a great day that was! Tim Harrington and his LK crew were gracious hosts and we were glad to be part of event. Speaking to many of the Lizard Kings parents, they are excited and geared up to make the trip to Kalamazoo this summer for our National Championships. However, before that, they will be sending their peewee and bantam teams up to my new hometown for our Chicago qualifier next month for what is shaping up to be a great event!
I also had the opportunity to speak with George Goodwin and his wife Tami this morning. I have known George and Tami for what seems like forever, and they are 2 of my favorite people in the sport. Genuine, good people who have raised 3 boys who not only are great hockey players, but better young men! George has 5 Gladiator teams playing this weekend and is working up a sweat running from rink to rink coaching all his teams. Good thing he has hired good help! He is trying to find a way to get up to Kalamazoo this summer and we hope he finds a way!
Overall the hockey has been pretty solid, with several games having ended in a shootout. With 36 teams participating this weekend, its great to see this kind of parity at a regional qualifier. Not only has the local market loaded the event with teams, but TN has once again sent over a handful of teams for this weekends event, having a 10, 12, 14, and 16u team. We greatly appreciate these teams continued support, and cannot thank the likes of Shane Parker and Randy Perry enough. We are hoping these teams also have Kalamazoo on their radar, as it is not too far of a trip from Nashville!
I have to run and grab a bite to eat before I eat my arm off, but I promise to check back in with "y'all" later...