Longpoint 2013 concluded last Sunday, with all the usual hugging, camaraderie, and celebration that such an event usually does. New friends were made, old friends reconnected, bruises collected, and valor displayed. However, four ladies who attended the event stood out as particularly heroic in the amount of work they put in to make Longpoint succeed, not in least because they did not enjoy a single moment of fencing during the weekend.
Every tournament organizer has been there. People need to be fed, tournament pools need to be seeded, sponsors need to be advertised—the list goes on, and in the throes of a tournament, the chaos can be overwhelming. Invariably, tournament organizers turn to their staff, which usually includes clubmates, but often ends up including family members as well—parents, significant others, or children (if they’re old enough).
First among these ladies of Longpoint is Mandy Michels, sister of tournament organizer Ben Michels. This year was not the first time Mandy has put in long hours of work for Longpoint. A professional photographer, it was her work that made Longpoint 2011 so memorable (just take a look at the photo below).
I saw Mandy slipping in and out of the tournament all weekend, silent as a shadow, camera in hand, capturing images of what I do not doubt was the best Longpoint yet.
Second but by no means less is Emma Graf, girlfriend of tournament organizer Ben Michels. Besides putting in a heroic 12+ hour day manning the points table during tournaments on Friday and Saturday, she also played host to the visiting Swedes and shepherded this hungry fencer off to food on Thursday night, along with several other. She also presented prizes in a pair of stilettos that I applaud anyone for being willing to wear for longer than five minutes, let alone walk around in for a few hours.
Third is Giuditta Dante, wife of tournament organizer Jacob Norwood. Besides caring for her and Jake’s young son during the entire event, she spent several long hours photographing the event, as well as several other things of which this journalist is probably unaware.
And lastly, there is Nell Jarashow, wife of tournament organizer “Evil” Ben Jarashow. When I went to list everything that Nell did during the tournament, I came away asking, what didn’t she do? It was Nell who acted as the logistical touch-point for what seemed the entire tournament staff, Nell who kept everything moving in a (mostly) organized fashion during the livestream, and Nell who quickly changed out of her gown after the livestream and made a midnight run for twenty pizzas to make sure people were fed on Saturday night.
This list of accomplishments is certainly incomplete, as I was not a member of the core Longpoint tournament staff and not privy to everything that happened before and during the tournament—merely a sliver view of the effort and work people like these four ladies selflessly put forth to make HEMA events succeed. Ladies, and to all of the people not listed here who have put forth work at any HEMA tournament out of the goodness of your heart for friends and family members, from the bottom of our hearts, HEMA salutes you.