We planned, we attended, we competed, we ate a LOT of food, and we had a whole lot of fun! The Midwest Regional competition was held on April 4-5, 2003 in Rochelle, IL and drew close to 100 riders and even more spectators from Rochelle, Minneapolis and other surrounding areas. The weekend was exciting from start to finish and it seems that everyone had an absolutely great time. Many people took mucho photographs and I’m sure they will surface as soon as folks have time to arrive home and get them processed.
The weekend began on Friday night with open gyms and ended late night with some fast-paced hockey action. On Saturday, we reconvened for what turned out to be a very long but very rewarding day. We began the morning session with slowboard and obstacle course competition while we turned Max Dingeman loose on constructing the trials course and Cool Carol McLean and Kool Kelsey loose in the gym corralling the kids of all ages for some great fun and games. Thanks to all for their wonderful contributions.
The afternoon was reserved for the Standard Skills and Freestyle competition. Connie Cotter carried out her customary wonderful performance as chief judge (thanks, Connie! We love you!) while a host of volunteer judges devoted themselves to a long afternoon of judging and scoring. Kudos to our judging panel! Twin Cities provided their usual chin-dropping entertainment through expertly performed routines while The Unicycle Uni-versity watched with pride as many of our riders performed in their very first competition including my favorite, our club’s very first pairs freestyle routine performed beautifully by Carly McGee and Kelsey Mellor. I was especially proud of three girls whose families had just recently found out about the event, made quick plans and attended. Melissa from Rockton, IL had never seen another person riding a unicycle until she attended two of our club practices very recently. Melissa competed and ended up winning a first place in the obstacle course. Kimberly from Chicago just learned to ride very recently. She and her family made their way to the event where Kim competed in Standard Skills and also won a first place in slowboards. Kara from Rock Falls, IL rides in a circus in her hometown but wasn’t aware of many of the tricks that can be performed on a unicycle. By the end of the day, she was making leaps and bounds in learning new ways to ride her unicycle. Won’t her circus be surprised!
In the middle of the afternoon, the whole assembly trooped outside for a trials demonstration and extravagnaza by Mr. Max “Equipment Distroyer” Dingeman. There is a great photograph of Max in mid-air that should surface soon. We had a professional action photographer on board the weekend. Mr. Photo was laying underneath an obstacle when Max jumped over him. I haven’t seen the photo yet, can’t wait to see it.
Following the freestyle events, we held our award ceremony and raffle. There is a real intimacy between small hometown folks and their local businesses. During our planning for the weekend, we approached many Rochelle businesses for help and support and were overwhelmingly blessed in abundance with funds, gifts, food and supplies. We raffled off two unicycles graciously donated by Unicycle.com and Hub City Bikes in Rochelle in what turned out to have possibly been the most significant point of the entire weekend…Gilby did not win a unicycle! He did win a sugar and cream dinnerware set. Bon appetite, Gilby.
Of course, every good Regionals event has to have a hockey tourney. Andy Cotter organized the tourney for us and did his usual great job. Sure did appreciate your help, Andy. I didn’t get to see much of the hockey but I understand that there was a thoughtful interchange between Christy Grider and Max Dingeman. Christy, heading the ball is usually reserved for soccer!
Of course at the end of all things good comes the party. After the dust of competition settled, we headed for the Catholic Learning Center building around the corner from the Middle School (everything is close-by in Rochelle) for a grand get together. Our guests enjoyed ping-pong, pool, foosball, table games, Uni-racer Nintendo and some good ol’ kickin’ back and relaxin’. After such a long, long day, I always wonder how the kids have any energy left over. It was a great time to get crazy for a while. On top of all the left over food, we ordered a whole-buncha pizza. It was almost as if we starved the crew for the whole weekend. What a bunch of ravenous wolves!
The Edwards family was blessed to provide housing for Andy Cotter, Irene Genelin, and Neil Younggren. Possibly the best story of the weekend…Andy and Neil slept in Ben’s bunkbeds with Neil opting for the bottom bunk. We warned Neil that our big male Golden Retriever, Riley, usually sleeps in Ben’s bed and not to be surprised if he has a visitor during the night. I asked Neil the next morning if he had company in bed that night and sure enough, he said Riley had come into the room and jumped up onto the foot of the bed. That was okay according to Neil. But pretty soon, Riley was stretched out along the length of the bed, then rolled over onto his back with his paws in the air and pinned Neil against the wall. I guess the moral of the story is…next time, beat Andy up the stairs and be the first to claim the top bunk.
I’m so very grateful to so many people that I couldn’t begin to name them all. Our organizing committee was tops. They worked so hard and long to put on the event and I believe it showed by how smoothly the weekend seemed to flow. Sue Shields and Bob Hanson from Twin Cities worked tirelessly with many of our kids on their skills. Tim Mallory from our club successfully passed Level 5. Brad made great strides and just missed Level 5 while Ben & Jerry are one sliver away from Levels 6 and 7. So many others…many thanks to you all.
Our unicycle community is one of a kind. You folks are the best! When we purchased our very first little yellow Jugglebug uni for Christmas 2000, we had absolutely no idea that the world of unicycling existed. Now I think we’ll find a special place for that little uni as it was the key opening us up to a wide and wonderful world of one-wheeling fun and excitement.
See you all at NAUCC!
Bruce & Mary and boys