Why I Fight; My Advice to Female Fighters

Written by Alysha Metcalf for The View from Valehaven

My Realms career began at UConn fight practice in fall 2006. I arrived at college already having located the Society for the Medieval Arts and Combat on the University of Connecticut Student Activities website. It was the "medieval" part of that club name that grabbed my attention, but it was the combat that kept me coming back every week. The idea that I could hit people with a big stick and not get in trouble was immensely appealing.

When I learned more about the Realms, I faced the same decision we have all made at one point: fighter or caster? For me, the choice was easy. I liked the idea that I could use any weapon I wanted, and that I could have two points of armor. To be honest, I was also intimidated by the idea of learning spells. I didn't believe (and still don't believe to this day) that I could remember how many Raises I had left, or what spells I had in which slot.

Ever since I first made that decision, I have remained a fighter. I love fighting, but I'll admit that I wasn't very serious about it in the beginning. I fought at practices and the sporadic events that I attended. I only signed up for single short and hand and a half tournaments. I had no idea how to call my armor.

Then something changed. I started practicing more, and harder, with the goal of improving and learning new styles. I became more competitive at events and tournaments. At first I just wanted to win, but this feeling evolved into the desire to promote not only myself, but women in general, in the realm of combat. Female fighters seemed to be a minority, and I wanted to change that.

The struggle of female fighters is two-fold; like any fighter, you need to work hard to be good at what you do, but you also need to work hard to be taken seriously as a fighter. A man who chooses to be a fighter is more readily accepted into the fighter culture than a woman is. I think the fact that women are not expected to be fighters has been a big part of what has motivated me to keep fighting.

I have attempted to compile some advice for any woman who is, or is thinking of, following the female fighter path. What I have encountered may not hold true for everyone, but I have applied my experiences to a few points that I hope will resonate with the other women out there. I'm not perfect; I'll be the first to admit it. There is a lot of advice here that I myself need to follow more diligently. But I will be happy if at least one woman can take something away from what I've written here.

‣ Practice.

The only way to get better at fighting is to practice. Improving your combat skills requires time and effort. You will not magically become an expert fighter over night. The top tier fighters you see at events and practices became that good because they have spent countless hours honing their crafts. There are several practices around New England: WPI on Monday nights, Nottingham on Tuesday nights, UConn on Wednesday nights. These are all excellent opportunities to work on a variety of drills and work with a diverse group of fighters. If you can't make it to any of the major practices, grab a friend and spar in your yard or driveway. Seek out chances to practice at events, whether it's sparring off to the side at a tournament event, or lining up against an NPC on a quest. NPCing also provides a great opportunity to practice.

‣ Step outside your comfort zone.

Being a good fighter means being a well-rounded fighter. The key is to be open to learning new styles (even if you think there's no way you can overcome the awkwardness of fighting florentine). I spent almost three years fighting with a hand and a half. I became comfortable, and was afraid to try something new and potentially fail at it. I finally forced myself to put the effort into learning to fight sword and marne. Fighting with a combination taught me a host of new skills, encouraged me to be a more offensive fighter, and even helped improve my hand and a half style. Being competent with multiple styles can only benefit you. A situation might arise on a line, or in a castle, where the team needs another fighter to pick up a pike, or join the shield wall. That ability to adapt successfully to changing combat scenarios and switch weapon styles to suit the situation gives you a huge advantage and makes you an asset to any team.

Even the best fighters have aspects of their craft they need to improve. You should never feel bad or embarrassed if you lack skills in a certain area. Be aware of what you need to improve, and work on it. When it comes to fighting, there is always something new you can learn.

‣ Participate in tournaments.

Think of tournaments as just another opportunity to practice. Sign up for every tournament you are eligible for. Not confident in your sword and shield fighting? Me neither. Sign up anyway and use the opportunity to learn something new. I also understand how difficult it can be to overcome that fear of fighting in front of a crowd of people. Do your best to forget the spectators. The only people who matter are yourself and your opponent. Everything else is just a distraction.

There is also a lack of female participation in many combat tournaments. An important step toward being taken more seriously is to increase the female presence on the tourney field. This goes along with stepping outside of your comfort zone. Even if you don't advance through the first round of a tournament, just the fact that you put yourself out there should boost your confidence. Other women will see you and feel encouraged to sign up for more tournaments as well.

‣ Men will underestimate you. Use that to your advantage.

While this may not be a universal truth, it is something that you will face in one form or another during the course of your fighting career. Men will use their brute force to try and overpower you. Learn to adapt your fighting style to your strengths. You may not have the same arm strength as a male fighter or be able to fight the same way, but you can learn to work with your own body to create a fighting style that works with your natural strengths.

If you step into the tourney ring against a male competitor, he might be thinking to himself that he has an easy win. Let that motivate you. Defeating an opponent who underestimated you is deeply satisfying. Even if you lose the fight, you can show that you aren't afraid to compete. If you're at practice, make it a point to line up against that guy who seems to keep beating you. Learn his style, and learn what you can do to beat him.

‣ Don't be intimidated.

Easier said than done, right? We've all been in that situation. You get called for a tournament. So does Rohde, or Jaha, or Shandar, or any one of those people that causes that gut-dropping feeling of dread. You feel like the pressure is on; everyone is watching and you know you're going to lose. Never go into a fight with that defeated mindset. Even if you are facing a more skilled opponent, that negative attitude will defeat you before you even take a swing.

In general, female fighters are not as naturally aggressive as male fighters. Forcing yourself to be aggressive is possibly one of the most difficult aspects of fighting you will have to learn. Aggression is certainly one of my main obstacles. It takes a lot of practice and pushing yourself to move your feet, to commit to closing on your opponent, to learn to double-tap. If you are woman who is naturally aggressive, learn to focus that energy into controlled and effective combat.

‣ Ask for help.

If you see someone at a fight practice or at an event and think to yourself "you know, I would really love to learn a few tips from that person," don't be afraid to approach them and ask if they could take some time to practice with you. Most fighters in the game would be happy to help you. Female fighters especially will open to sharing their knowledge with you. Although approaching someone can be scary, I promise you won't regret the decision. Working with different people is extremely valuable. You will gain different perspectives and learn a variety of techniques that you can take and apply to your own fighting style. You will also find that you have an easier time training with some people rather than others, whether it's their teaching style that works for you, or your styles mesh in an effective way. Even just discussing combat with other fighters can open you up to new ideas or ways of approaching fighting that you may not have thought of.

‣ Don't give up.

There will be times where you will get discouraged. Every fighter has moments of self-doubt, and questions if all the hard work is really worth it. Understand that becoming a good fighter is an arduous process that requires time, dedication, and a genuine will to learn. If you truly want to improve and want to compete at the level with the best fighters in the game, then you need to put a lot of energy into the process. In those moments where you feel ready to give up, remember that every amazing fighter had to start from scratch. If you are struggling to decide if you really want to continue down the fighter path, think that your hard work and presence on the battlefield could be an inspiration to another woman out there.

‣ Remember: the goal isn't to be a good female fighter; the goal is to be a good fighter.

Being a good female fighter is only half the battle. If you only compete against other women, you can't truly integrate yourself into the Realms fighter culture. There is no doubt that I have experienced fierce competition within the One-Woman Tournament, and I am proud to compete against my fellow female fighters. But I know that if I want to be one of the best, I need to compete against the best, and that includes men. Putting yourself up against male competitors can be intimidating, certainly, but the more you do it, and the more you practice, the more confident you will become that you can compete against anyone.

Why I'm a Realms Event Holder

Written by Alysha Metcalf for The View from Valehaven
Originally ran anonymously as part of a week-long series of articles by female members of the community

I was asked to write an article describing why I choose to be an Event Holder. I knew early on in my Realms career that EHing was, eventually, something I wanted to do. I had (and still have) a lot of respect for EHs; these are people who dedicate a tremendous amount of time and energy to creating the venues that enable our game, and our community, to exist. I wanted to be a part of that. When I decided to take the plunge, it was because it seemed like the next logical step in my Realms career. I had already been on staff for, or involved in the planning process of, multiple events. I had NPCed even more events than that. But I wanted to take everything I had learned and challenge myself to actually throw an event.

I tested the waters by throwing a tournament as my first event. It went smoothly overall, and I learned numerous lessons that would serve me well for throwing future tournaments. Fortunately, I also had an excellent support system to lean on for help. As nerve wracking as the prospect of being a first-time EH was, I can't imagine what the experience would have been like without the assistance of some veteran EHs. Having a solid team is essential to throwing a successful event.

While I liked throwing a tournament, I don't think I fully appreciated the event-holding experience until I was an EH for a weekend-long questing event. Talk about pre-event jitters; I've never been as terrified as when PCs started showing up on that first Friday night. The idea for the event was a result of one of those "wouldn't it be fun to...?" conversations that you never really believe will come to fruition. The fact that it did is still a point of pride for me. It also represents one of my favorite aspects of event-holding: taking an idea and making it reality.

I truly do enjoy all facets of the event planning process: from the initial ideas and brainstorming, to designing encounters, to creating props and costumes, to that last-minute prepping in the wee hours of the morning the night before the event. But the real enjoyment starts with that exhilarating moment when the event goes live. Watching all those hours of plotting and planning unfold, often in different and better ways than I could have anticipated, is beyond satisfying. Seeing players grab onto and get invested in your plot is especially thrilling, even when they do they unexpected. Creating memorable moments for players is another wonderful aspect of event-holding. While the logistical process of executing an event successfully is rewarding in and of itself, receiving positive feedback from players provides validation that all the effort was also worth something to the community. If I can enrich even one player's Realms experience, then I feel like I've done something good.

When I'm knee-deep in event prep (literally, wading through props in my living room) it can be easy to forget that I choose to be an EH. I sometimes question what I was thinking, getting myself into such a massive undertaking. The weeks leading up to an event especially feel like having a second full-time job. But it always ends up being worth the effort. The added stress, the late nights, the fleeting moments of doubt-none of these things compare to the immense gratification of seeing my ideas, my plans, and my passion fully realized, and feeling that I have made a positive impact on the Realms community.

Why We Ran Anonymous Articles This Week

Written by Jennifer DeNardis-Rosa for The View from Valehaven
Written at the end of that week, summing up the week's worth of anonymous articles

The article series this week was meant to showcase the many different reasons why individuals chose to become involved in the various facets that the game has to offer. Although these articles were written by specific individuals, they were purposefully written with a broader, more general scope, in the hopes of making each article accessible to our community. As you went through the narratives this week, were you able to identify with some of these writers? Did you see yourself, or aspects of yourself, in any of these pages? Or have you been hovering on the edge of getting involved in any of these things? If so, maybe reading these accounts will help give you that extra push you need, or provide the helpful little spark. One of the purposes of this series was to help make getting involved in the wider aspects of the game more relatable to other players.

You may also have noticed that each article was published anonymously. This was done on purpose as well. Now I want to ask a question - as you were reading, were you trying to guess the identity of the writer since there was no name on top? Or did you read each one with a voice already in your head? Let's take this a step farther - was that voice male or female? Or did it differ depending on what the topic of the article was, or who you are? Or did the articles just read in a neutral way, with no distinction between the different voices?

To that end, the View staff would like to officially recognize and thank each of our "anonymous" contributors this week. Each of these articles was, in fact, written by a woman in our community; the goal of each article was to show why each woman choses to do what she does, how she feels it benefits the community, and the satisfaction she gets, both personal and community-wise, from doing so. This series was collaborated and published in honor of the Huntress Guild and as a way to recognize women in our game in the week leading up to the annual Huntress Guild tournament, the Tournaments of Artemis.

Why I'm a Realms Event Holder, written by Alysha "Kyntela" Metcalf
Why I Staff Events, written by Becky "Kovacs" Baron
Why I Feast-o-crat, written by Rhiannon "Starmaw" Chiacchiario
Why I am a Questing/ Role-playing Caster, written by Leanne "Faelinn" Micciche
Why I'm a Combat Healer, written by Rori "Rhiannon" Boyce

The main purpose of running these articles anonymously at first was to help illustrate the idea that each person in this community has the ability to make meaningful contributions to the game - and many players do - and that these contributions are made regardless of whether the player is male or female. All players have the capacity to have an impact on the game and our contributions can take many different forms, as shown by the articles above. So to ask the question again - who did you see in these stories as you were reading through them? If you tried to guess the identity or the gender of the writer, were you correct? Hopefully you can see that those things don't matter as much - male or female, everyone in this community has a lot to give.

The other purpose of this article series was to reinforce the fact that there are many strong women in our community that can, and do, put in just as much effort and work just as hard as any other to help make our game succeed, and that there is no shortage of female role-models within our game. These are examples of women choosing and excelling at different facets of the game, and these ladies serve as both an example and a reminder of what is possible for all women in the community.

This series also serves to showcase the important and varied role that the Huntress Guild plays in terms of women in the Realms. Combat is another aspect of the Realms, but even those that are leaders and major contributors in other aspects of our game can find combat to be difficult or challenging. To that end, the Huntress Guild is an important resource that helps to train and support women in combat. It should also be pointed out that there are many veteran players, both male and female, who are willing to help teach and train newer (and older!) players as well. But just as there is more to the game than fighting, there is also more to the Huntress Guild than just promoting females in combat. The Huntress Guild aims for the support and promotion of females in all aspects of the game, and this includes staffing, spell-casting, feast-o-crating, event-holding, NPC'ing, and beyond. Every woman is a Huntress, and through our support of each other, we make each other and the Guils stronger. As illustrated by the talented ladies above, one does not have to be a strong fighter to be considered a leader, a contributor, or a strong woman in this game.

An important note - while this editorial primarily deals with the role of women, this of course is not limited just to females. These same opportunities for contributing and getting involved are open to men as well. As was previously stated above, each person in the community has the ability to give of themselves to improve and enrich the game - but everyone must start somewhere. You just need to take the first step!

Putting it into Practice

Written by Jason Rosa for The View from Valehaven

The spring eventing season is creeping up. Soon the snows will thaw and people will begin to wake up from the long hibernation of the doldrums of winter. And with the warmer weather comes the revitalization of the fight practices that occur weekly around New England. Though many persist throughout the winter in some fashion, the longer daylight hours and nicer temperatures certainly inspire more people to venture out for an evening of exercise and enjoyment. What better time is there, then, to make a weekly fight practice a normal part of your schedule?

There are many members of this community that have not made attending a weekly fight practice a part of their routine. Of course, there are a myriad of reasons we all have in our lives that prevent us from attending a practice, even if we would otherwise choose to. Family, work, school... all of these must remain paramount. But to those of you who have the opportunity, and I know there are more than a few, and who have not yet decided that you need to make a regular fight practice (or two, or three) a part of your week; I offer the following arguments to compel you to do so.

Skill: This first one is obvious; but it needs to be said and there is more to it then you might think. If you go to practice, you will become better at fighting. Obvious, right? But, there are those who possess a mental disconnect between that cause and effect and I have never quite understood why. I have watched dozens upon dozens of freshman come into SMAC at UCONN, and the most rapid growth always occurs in those who hit practice consistently. Yes, there are plateaus that everyone hits in their growth. There are times when improvement comes more slowly and there are times where people need to push themselves harder to advance. Practice, however, always produces results. The greatest fighters in the game still go to practice weekly; that is not a coincidence, it is pure causation.

Notoriety: Becoming a better fighter is a rewarding experience on its own, but it is also a means to an end... to many ends. Yes, notoriety is the most obvious reward; the ability to win tournaments or the respect that comes with putting in a good showing and making it through a round or two. But that is only the tip of the iceberg. Becoming a more competent fighter gives you access to an array of skills and experience that will make you a more well rounded member of the community on a number of levels. In this community, people have a solid conception of who the best fighters are, even a solid conception of who the fighters are that can simply be considered competent. The names of the best fighters in this game are still remembered years after they have retired or passed their prime.

NPCing: We are often called upon to NPC, and almost without fail, the most common type of NPC needed at questing events are grunts; monsters that are there to challenge the players in combat. Attending fight practice not only allows you to be more difficult to beat as a combat NPC but it gives you the experience fighting alongside others and in tactical scenarios that can help make the overall event more engaging and challenging. Being a solid combat NPC is a fantastic way to be a core contributor to any person's events. Becoming a notably good combat NPC opens up the ability to play larger and more impressive combat roles. Either way, it is an avenue, perhaps even the best avenue, to become a valuable asset to the community.

Event Staffing: Being a part of an event's staff, be it the eventholder, the magic marshal, or a head NPC, becomes easier when you have combat experience. The dynamics of fighting, of understanding the flow of combat and the overall war of attrition, becomes more obvious the more experience that you have with it. Certainly there are a wealth of experienced Realmsies who have been throwing and attending events for years and have this innate understanding. Ascertaining what challenge level is appropriate for the event scenario, choosing whether to up or down power the monsters, deciding whether or not to input a spell reset or healing boost; these are calls that you can make with more precision when you have put the time in to understand combat on a deeper level. Fight practice is an avenue to help you gain that understanding. Events that are thrown without an understanding of combat suffer for it. We have all been to events that have felt slow and unengaging. Having consistent, well planned combat encounters at your event goes a long way towards preventing that.

Generaling and Leadership: Much as above, leadership on the field cannot exist unless those leaders understand the ebb and flow of large-scale combat (large on our scale, anyway). An experienced general knows when the moment is right to push through an enemy line, understands how much attrition has occurred over the course of the battle, sees the opportunities in a strategy that others may miss. They know how to arrange the skill levels and weapon combinations in their line to best counter what they see on the other side. Most fight practices feature line battles and other forms of group combat. The more you participate in them, the greater your understanding of them will grow. Those who have been participating in that kind of group combat for a long time will tell you that this 'battlefield awareness' is one of the hardest skills to obtain, but perhaps the most valuable.

All of the above reasons have focused on the opportunities you could personally gain by being a better fighter, but the advantages to hitting a regular fight practice go well beyond what you can accomplish as an individual. Attending fight practices is an important part of the overall success of a group or nation

Fighting as a Group: There is an inherent and obvious difference watching a group that is used to fighting alongside others, and watching those who have not had that kind of practice. In a group battle, whether it be a five-man or a fifty-person line battle, there is precious little time to communicate with one another after the lay-on is called. Understanding how to react amidst the unpredictability of that battle cannot be trusted to speech. Instead, each individual on your team must have an innate awareness of one another and what each is capable of accomplishing. Forming quick, decisive, two-on-one scenarios. Taking advantage of blind-spots or distractions to enemy combatants. These cannot be fully planned before the battle is engaged, because each fight has a life that is uniquely its own. Only experience fighting alongside others will give you the personal capacity to be an asset to your group in battle. Even if your group as a whole does not attend the same practice as you do, any experience working with teammates in battle will sharpen those instincts. Those that lack them will always lose to those who do not.

Visibility: There are lots of measures that we consciously or subconsciously use to decide whether or not a nation is strong. We regard it based on the number of people on its roster, the quality of the events that it throws, the notoriety and the success of the individuals that make it up. Certainly one of the obvious metrics that we use is the number of people that it can field, in large group tournaments and even on quests. But well beyond a large group showing at one or two big events during the year, a consistent large presence at a fight practice sends an important message to the Realms about your group. It heralds the fact that you are dedicated to standing alongside one another. It speaks to your groups commitment to improvement. It gives the Realms a change to see a large number of you on a consistent basis and forces everyone to recognize that you occupy a place in the community. Groups that consistently practice together at a public practice are regarded by the Realms as having an undeniable presence.

Camaraderie: This is especially important for groups that have a population which is geographically scattered. Groups stay strong and stay committed to the national ideals based entirely on the personal bonds of friendship that form between the individual members. Close relationships are a necessity in a group that will stand the test of time. For those friendships to remain strong, they require an investment of time. There are lots of ways to accomplish this. Many successful groups have gatherings and parties on a somewhat regular basis, and in doing so they get all of their members face to face and to give them that opportunity to become closer. Fight practice is a wonderful way to accomplish those same goals. It is a weekly opportunity to get your nation together, to build off of one another and help push one another forward, and to continuously cement those vital bonds that keep a group together.

Fighter Culture: Within almost every group, and certainly within the overall community, there is a principle of ‘fighter culture'. This is not, as you might suspect, an institution for those who play fighter characters. Rather, it is the message that a nation sends that the concept of martial skill is important and intrinsically valuable. Some groups have a much stronger fighter culture than others do. That does not make them superior as nations; it is not a competition. Each group in the game is unique and has different ideals. I merely suggest that somewhere listed among those ideals should be things like honor in combat, familiarity with fighting against different combat styles, the ability to work together in large group battles, competence with a variety of weapon types. All things obtained by attending a fight practice regularly. A group that regularly attends a fight practice sends a message to their members that the combat side of the game isn't there to be ignored.

Interacting with the Community: Politics. Love them or hate them, they are a consistent part of the in-character and out-of-character parts of our game. There are thousands of types political interactions, plans, alliances, trades, information exchange... all of them happen over electronic mediums, yes, but not nearly as efficiently or as regularly as they do when people are face to face. Of course they happen every time we all go to an event together, but they also all regularly happen at practices too. Sometimes they occur to the point of distraction; taking people away from the actual combat at practice, but ideally they happen as people gather between fights or find free moments between activities. Conversations even happen while people fight next to one another in line. Being there for practice increases your nation's exposure to these interactions. It allows you to be in on the plans, to be a part of the information trade, to traffic your ideas and to become more well known. The wheels of politics never stop turning, after all, and fight practice is one of the places that they certainly spin faster.

Recruiting: What better forum is there for recruiting new people into the community and recruiting individuals into nations than through a weekly fight practice? Perhaps more than any other area, I can speak to this point with expertise. UCONN practice is currently in its eighth year and each year it has grown larger. Each year we have produced members of the community that carry within them a tremendous amount of potential to leave their mark upon our game. Certainly many have already begun doing so. Unleashing this potential does not happen randomly or due to coincidence. It happens because the people who take the time and effort to be trainers pass along their ideals and their dedication to the community through the people that learn from them. Good players come from good mentors. It is a simple and understandable relationship. Attending practice is one of the best ways to be a part of that teaching tradition. Every practice that is out there has new recruits coming in. They are all eager to learn and find their mentors and role models throughout their weeks of attending a regular practice. Recruiting new members into a nation starts with one of those mentoring relationships. I have watched members of UCONN practice and the Oaken Guard graduate into many different groups and in EVERY single case it is because a member of that group started reaching out through weekly practice.

Endurance of the Community: Every single reason that I listed above is really only one reason in the end. Every reason to go to fight practice, to mentor others, to push forward fighter culture, to increase personal or group visibility... they all amount to the same thing in the end. The viability and the endurance of the Realms community. Our game has evolved into something very special. A set of people who are dedicated to one another and the continuity of our in-game world, but also to the ideals of sportsmanship, honor, and martial skill. Many LARPS are just games that meet on designated weekends for their in-character interactions. But our community goes so much deeper than that. The time we spend with one another at practices, getting to know one another better, testing our skills against each other, teaching those who wish to learn, carrying on conversations with those we wouldn't otherwise get to see regularly... all of these things bind us much closer together than a community that just gets together to role play and fight every other weekend. The tradition of fight practice has stretched across the four decades of this community's existence. It makes up a large part of who we are as a culture of LARPers. We retain that identity as we continue this enduring custom. As some of the oldest practices in our game, like WPI, continue proudly each year. As new practices, like Greenfield, Asnuntuck, and UMASS Lowell spring up to cater to their local populations. As we bring in new blood and use their energy and enthusiasm to spur us onward. Who we are as a community can be largely found in our fight practices.

Come join us this season, won't you?

Perspectives Gained on Mentoring Part 1

Written by Jason Rosa for The View from Valehaven

Take it from the more venerable among us; the older you become, the more you find evidence of how skills learned in the Realms are applicable in everyday life. This happens in a myriad of subtle ways and there is little doubt that you have encountered some of them. Many of us have gained a measure of our self-confidence from what we have achieved in the Realms. Many of us have learned how dedication to a goal can produce tangible results through working hard at fight practices. There are also more grandiose examples of how Realms experience translates to real life experience. The organizational skills gained in event holding can often be repurposed towards administrative tasks in a business environment. Likewise, the management that goes into leadership in a group gives great insight into leadership positions in a professional situation.

It is also the case that many skills gained in the real world are transferable to Realms. If you've worked in an industrial kitchen before, there is a good chance that you will be able to be successful throwing Realms feasts. If you are an accomplished artist then the props that you make for events will certainly be all the more stunning. If you have trained athletically and are in fantastic shape, you will have an inherent advantage in martial combat. And while there are a myriad of other examples of how different skills are transferable into the game, I would like to spend some time talking about how things that I have discovered as part of my profession have helped me to become better mentor to some of the younger people in our community.

For those of you who are not aware, I am an educator. I teach 7th and 8th grade science in a suburban middle school in central Connecticut. Teaching is a career that is all about people. It requires a profound understanding of how people learn and develop their talents, and it requires the people in that profession to be deeply invested in the success of those who depend on them. In this series of articles I have brought together some thoughts; things that I have learned about mentoring others in the real world that are immediately applicable to how we as a community mentor people in the Realms. If you are in a position where younger members of our game depend on you for guidance, be that in a formal or in informal ways, then hopefully you can find some insight in what I have collected. Each installment will focus on a different aspect of what I have learned as a teacher.

You must set high expectations for your students.

Every single student has potential. In some young people, that potential is painstakingly obvious. These are the students who come to class each day well prepared, who are eager to participate in the activities of the day, who study hard because they have internalized the fact that success in school is important to them. In some students, that potential is couched behind many obstacles. Their life at home could contain many distractions or they might personally believe that there is no merit to education. They might simply want to be anywhere else besides in school. But the expectation presented to teachers is that, regardless of the obviousness of that potential, all of our students be given the opportunity to be successful.

Helping all students to rise to their potential is about motivation and inspiration. Students can be motivated by grades or other rewards, but of course not all are. Students can be motivated by consequences or fear of punishment, of course not all are. As their teachers, all that we can really give students are external motivators for their behavior and their academics. True motivation, however, what actually allows people to excel, must be born internally. And while we as educators cannot simply bestow upon others that internal motivation, we can inspire it by keeping our expectations for them high. Setting high expectations for a student's success shows them that you believe in their abilities. If you have a relationship with that student, they respond to that belief by wanting to live up to it.

The strength of expectations is immediately transferable to mentees in the Realms. Imagine the difference between these two similar tasks that you could give to a younger player: "I would like you to participate in more tournaments this year." and "This year you will place within the top ten for Order of the List points.". The first is a lukewarm, poorly defined goal. Giving it to someone shows that you don't personally understand what they are capable of and that you're really not expecting them to impress you with the way they pursue that objective. The latter sends a clear signal that you believe in that person's ability to achieve the stated goal. I conveys a deep level of faith in their skills and the dedication that they can bring to bear to meet that expectation. The only response one can have to that faith is to work hard to justify it. The motivation your mentees have to achieve their tasks is born of the trust you place in them to do so.

Not every person will always succeed at every goal you give them. In fact, if you are setting goals for people correctly, then some of them, sometimes, will be just out of reach. But by setting the expectations high, you are also raising the bar on 'almost' meeting those expectations as well. In the above example, it might be the case that your mentee falls short of the top ten. Maybe they only made it to 14th place. Maybe they were only able to get a handful of points overall. But meeting the goal was not the most important aspect of giving it. The effort in approaching a goal is also what allows people to grow. If in attempting to meet your expectation, your mentee tripled their attendance at fight practices and moved on past the first round of the majority of tournaments they fought in, then they have made significant progress. But that progress would not have happened if their only goal was to "fight in more tournaments". The progress occurred because their goal required of them the effort to improve.

The world of education is one of assessments and grades. It is a system we have all endured and that we are all familiar with. Grades within the "A" range are considered "excellent". Grades within the "C" range are considered "average". Some brief analysis of that concept begs the question - shouldn't it be perfectly acceptable for our students to always get C's? But the expectation that we put on students is that they should always be working towards getting 100%. We don't ask them to study only 75% of the material, after all. When you set the expectations for the people who are learning from you, therefore, do not shoot low. Don't tell them that a "C" is good enough for you; that it should be good enough for them. Don't tell them that they are simply an "average" person in your mind. Set goals for them that they can achieve only with the full measure of their effort. Then you will see that effort come to the fore. Expecting anything less from them would be selling them short.

Perspectives Gained on Mentoring Part 2

Written by Jason Rosa for The View from Valehaven

In this continuing series of articles, it is my goal to communicate things that I have learned about mentoring others throughout my years as both a member of the community, and in my professional role as an educator. In each article I will discuss a different maxim of teaching; things that educators must apply to their craft if they are to be successful, and explain how I have interpreted each of them to help me be a better mentor within the Realms.

Each student learns in a different way.

In education, each and every September, you begin the school year with over a hundred brand new faces in front of you, for some teachers, many more. The reality of education is that you must teach these kids as a group; when you have a classroom of twenty-five to thirty students, all you can really do is present the same information to all of those young people at once. But no classroom contains thirty kids who are all identical learners. Each of them has a different background. Parents with different perspectives on the importance of doing well in school, a different set of teachers that brought them up through the different grades, a different array of interests that prompted them to focus on some things and eschew others. We are tasked, as educators, to get to know these students as individuals and teach them as individuals, even as we must address them as a group.

Such a demand can be very difficult, but it does happen, in some way or another, throughout the fullness of the school year. Over the weeks and months you begin to understand each of your students as a unique learner. You get to know their history, their personality, and what enthusiasm or baggage they bring through your door every day. This allows you to begin to engage them as individuals, even within the larger context of the whole classroom. Until you reach that level of understanding with a student, teaching them can be a very difficult task. Yes, they might be able to get passing grades and do well on tests if they are taking notes and studying, but you only truly become their teacher once you have a personal relationship with them which allows them to trust you. They need to trust that you have their wellbeing at heart. They need to trust that the reason you are there is to help them grow and become better people. They need to trust in your belief that the knowledge that you want then to gain has value.

The mentees that you have within the Realms community are the same. Each of them is a different person. Each of them has a different background that made them the person who they are out of game, and has had different experiences that have shaped who they are as a member of the community. If you are tasking yourself with the responsibility of helping them to grow, you need to understand that background and how it influenced them.

One of the largest mistakes that a mentor can make is to generalize from themselves when trying to understand their mentee. Even if you see a lot of yourself in the person that you are attempting to teach, it is important to remember that there are huge gaps between the experiences you had and learned from and those that brought your mentee to your side. These differences, sometimes subtle, often vast, are one of the most important things a mentor should learn before deciding how to best teach a person who is putting their faith in them. In the beginning of your relationship, talk more about what makes you different than what makes you the same. Your goal is not to make your mentee more like you, rather your goal should be to make them a greater version of themselves.

If they are becoming your squire or your apprentice then what is motivating them to take that step? What is their personal understanding of what it means to hold those titles and be working towards others? What do they most want to learn and what parts of the community to they want to grow into? Who have their role models been up to this point and what perspectives on the game did they receive from them? What have their greatest disappointments been and how have they suffered through them? These are but a few of the things a mentor needs to know to more effectively understand who their mentee is and how best to teach them.

Part of learning about who your mentee is involves failing together. In schools, students do not always succeed at each assignment they are given, and it is through evaluating their missteps that educators discover who they are as individual learners, and how to teach them better. This will be true of your mentoring relationship in Realms as well. You will assign tasks to your mentee which are rooted in your own personal experiences and perspectives, but those tasks may not always be aligned with who your mentee is and how they will best learn. Because of this you will see times, especially in more complex projects, where your mentee will stall, not follow through, or even fail to live up to your expectations.

In some cases this may mean that you and your mentee are not a good match for one another, but that is the exception rather than the rule. Unfortunately I have seen too many situations where the relationship between two people would completely dissolve on the back of one or two assigned tasks that did not go as the mentor expected. But being a successful teacher takes more fortitude than that. Instead of writing off your mentee as a failure, instead you must evaluate why they did not live up to your expectations. Were you asking them to employ a skillset they did not yet fully understand? Were your assumptions incorrect about the amount of time it would take to accomplish something? Was the content of the task simply something that they found uninteresting and uninspiring?

Don't be afraid to let some little things go. If a task wasn't done exactly the way you expected but it was clear your mentee put in effort and learned through doing so, that can be enough. If your mentee found some other way to achieve similar ends to the ones that you intended, you don't need to feel slighted that they did things in their own way. But in those situations where they fell far short of what you asked them to do, the duty of a mentor, through a conversation with their mentee, is to find out why. Sometimes a task or goal needs to be restructured or redefined. Sometimes it may require more teaching or more time working together towards its completion. Sometimes, the task simply may not be right for that mentee and the best mentors can then take a step back, not draw offense from the situation, and look for a more effective way of teaching their mentee what they need to learn.

As an educator, comprehending the learning styles of so many new students every year can be daunting. And certainly not every teacher succeeds in doing so every single year. In our community, however, it is more common to have a handful of mentees rather than a hundred. It means that learning how to teach them best is a much less overwhelming prospect, and one we must dedicate ourselves to if we are going to make a commitment to help them to succeed.

Perspectives Gained on Mentoring Part 3

Written by Jason Rosa for The View from Valehaven

In this continuing series of articles, it is my goal to communicate things that I have learned about mentoring others throughout my years as both a member of the community, and in my professional role as an educator. In each article I will discuss a different maxim of teaching; things that educators must apply to their craft if they are to be successful, and explain how I have interpreted each of them to help me be a better mentor within the Realms.

Teaching involves more than just imparting knowledge.

Every teacher from kindergarten through college has a curriculum that they have to follow throughout the fullness of the year. That curriculum is generally composed of a set of standards or goals that they are expected to help their student's reach in the time that they share a learning environment together, and it is difficult to debate that meeting those goals is a teacher's primary responsibility -- it is certainly the one we are measured most rigorously on.

Our curriculum, however, is not the only thing we are responsible for teaching. Students go to school to learn how to calculate answers to problems and how to analyze great literature, but they also go to school to be part of an environment that will help guide them toward becoming adults. To that end, teachers are expected to be the models of that adult behavior for their students. To speak eloquently and with purpose, to treat others with politeness and respect, to follow through on responsibilities and live up to promises. In an ideal educational environment, a student can learn academics while also learning what it means to have maturity as a learner and as a person.

There are striking similarities to those goals and the goals that we have for our mentees in the Realms. Ostensibly, we mentor someone in order to pass our knowledge onto them. We can teach them how to become better combatants, how to plan and execute an event, how to best make use of the magic system, how to construct armor or props... the list goes on and on. And while teaching knowledge to our mentees is certainly a large, maybe the largest, part of our time with them, it is not the only goal, and maybe it is not even the most important one.

If we make the decision to mentor someone in the Realms it is not only because we want to pass along our knowledge or our skills. At the very foundation, the reason we mentor others is because we believe in the intrinsic value that we can have as mentors and the potential that value has to help other people grow. Yes, that growth is somewhat inspired by gaining new knowledge, but the greater amount of it is learned the same way students learn those things from teachers; by spending time in the same environment together, putting trust in one another, and working together towards common goals.

It is not enough to assume that our mentees will grow through giving them tasks and responsibilities. I have seen mentoring relationships that have wholly consisted of giving a mentee some small amount of instruction and then sending them off to succeed or fail based on their dedication to their goal. Certainly there is some merit to tasks given in that way and a well balanced mentorship certainly can have some assignments that are structured as such, but alone they do not encompass everything that a mentorship can accomplish.

A much more effective way to structure a task, instead of as an independent assignment, is to set a goal for you and your mentee to achieve together. Something as simple as building a prop to as complex as running an event can be approached as a team project, dependant on both of you working in tandem to be successful.

Creating tasks based on this model comes with a myriad of advantages. You gain the opportunity to impart your knowledge, not in one lump sum, but throughout the entire project, reinforcing and emphasizing the most important and most relevant aspects of it as you work through the task together. You generate the opportunity to further your own knowledge and abilities as you perfect your craft, and you allow your mentee to be a part of that journey, adding to your knowledge as well as their own. Most importantly of all, you establish a series of continuous moments where your mentee has the opportunity to spend time with you, learn more about you and your unique perspective through your conversations, become more familiar with your outlook on the community and the game, and become successively inspired to put forth the level of dedication and passion that they can see in you.

Teachers cannot sit idle and expect their students to learn. A teacher, by and far, works a lot harder than the students that they instruct. The length of the school day is only the very beginning of the hours that an educator must put in to ensure that their students have the best chance of being successful. By that same token, as a mentor, you cannot expect to be idle and have your mentee benefit from your experience or your knowledge. If you are sitting back and handing out assignments, then what investment do you really have in the relationship or in the person who you are instructing? How can you be sure they are growing through their time with you? How much are you really a part of the growth they can achieve or the path that will get them there?

Rather, you should expect to work harder than your mentee during the course of your mentorship together. You should expect to lead by example when you show them how much dedication you direct towards reaching your goals. You should give them the opportunity to discover that your experience and your wisdom and your skills came to you through hard work and countless hours, and that they should be prepared to pay the same toll if they wish to grow in the same way. You should demonstrate to them, as often as possible, that success and notariety in this community go hand in hand with the effort that is levied towards it. The most potent method of instructing your mentee is teaching them by your example, and it is your responsability, during that mentorship, to make that example shine.

There are many rewards that come along with being a teacher, but among the greatest of them happens when a student finds you months or years after your time with them has ended, and expresses to you, directly or indirectly, that the time they spent with you was meaningful to them. Almost universally, their experience and their gratitude is not predicated on the specifics of the knowledge they learned in your classroom. Much more likely it is because they found your classroom to be a joyful place, that they found inspiration through your passion for what you taught them, that they, in part, we're able to chart the course of their lives because of the influence you had on them.

That depth of influence is the ultimate goal of our mentorships in the Realms. When your mentee has completed their time with you, it is certainly important that they have gained specific skills and accomplished learning objectives. Greater by far, however is that they have broadened their perspective on the community, that they have affirmed their dedication to growing as individuals and pushing the Realms forward in the process. That they have become inspired to pass that perspective and dedication and knowledge and passion on to the generation after them. And that in the process, that they have forged with you a friendship that will endure long, long after the mentorship has ended.

And all of that begins with the time you spend together. Finding the learning styles of so many new students every year can be daunting. And certainly not every teacher succeeds in doing so every single year. In our community, however, it is more common to have a handful of mentees rather than a hundred. It means that learning how to teach them best is a much less overwhelming prospect, and one we must dedicate ourselves to if we are going to make a commitment to help them to succeed.

On Squireship and Knighthood

Written by Jason Rosa for The View from Valehaven

I've been asked to express my views on squireship and knighthood. I feel like this is a topic that I've written about at length, though primarily in the larger context of mentoring, and in those articles I have attempted to be general enough that they can apply to whatever mentoring relationship applies to my readers. In this case, I'll take the opportunity to speak more to knighthood, specifically, and explain as best as I can what I believe to be important about the knights and squires of Rhiassa and the experience that I've had and tried to create as a member of that order.

I have to talk first about what is involved in choosing a squire, and to that end I must start by being redundant. It's a sentiment that I have detailed many times before but it merits repeating. The philosophy behind the Knights of Rhiassa is one of service. Individual knights are asked to always work towards the betterment of the community, usually in modest ways such as NPCing or otherwise staffing events, but also to model that behavior for the other members of Rhiassa. The philosophy of the entire nation is built off of the same mission of service. Again, service to all members of the community in a myriad of ways but specifically in working together to make our events as best as possible for the sake of those who attend them. Because of this synergy in the goals of the knightly order and the goals of the nation, choosing squires and developing those squires is inherent in who we are as a group.

In a lot of ways, that makes my mission as a Knight Commander an easy one. Of the people who make up our "regular" members, I can observe who is most pushing themselves to contribute to our national goals and identify them as people ready to be squired. In a lot of ways, this also makes my job harder. Virtually every member of the group contributes to the best of their ability as often as they can. In that sense, singling out any one person can be a great challenge. To further refine our criteria, then, we have to look at those people who are ready to take their first steps "outside" of the group. While a rank-and-file member of Rhiassa is asked to contribute all they can to what we do internally, to be a squire to the knightly order requires going beyond Rhiassa and attempting to be an asset to the entire Realms.

To the knights who are now in a position where they are attempting to choose a squire, then, I offer the following advice. Much in the same way that the members of Rhiassa are brought into a group that supports the philosophy of the knightly order, when selecting a squire it is imperative to choose an individual who has a philosophy similar to yours. There are facets of this community and this game that you, as a knight, feel to be of vital importance. They are the aspects that have defined your path up to this point and therefore will permeate whatever relationship you have with the individual that you teach. Therefore, from the outset, find a squire who agrees with you about what they believe to be most important. What you will have created, then, is a partnership that has a foundation based on the same ideals and upon which you can more easily work towards common goals.

So by observing who among my members are ready to push themselves in their contributions and their relationships to the rest of the community, I have chosen my own squires and I have helped my other knights choose theirs. And certainly the choosing of those squires is a very vital first step in creating the partnership that moves them towards knighthood. What comes afterwards are the two to three years where that mentored individual will develop into a knight, and it is not something that happens accidentally or without direction. Rather, I believe that the actions and the attitude of the knight have an immeasurable impact on how their squire will progress, and starting off that relationship correctly forms the foundation of that future success.

In my experience, a squireship is a journey that a knight and a squire take together. As a knight, I would be disingenuous if I considered myself the fount of all knowledge and my squires to exist only to learn at my feet. Instead, I consider myself a learner alongside my squire. Certainly my experience is greater, so in that relationship, at least in the earlier stages of it, it is my job to take the lead. Very early on it is my job to choose projects that I think will best help develop essential skills in the person who I am squiring. Tasks to that end are often related to staffing different kinds of events or working on basic crafting together. These tasks are partially about the learning of different abilities, but just as much they are about building confidence, giving us experience working together, and helping the squired individual see the relationship between the effort that they put in and the success that comes from it.

In an important way, I would describe the first few months of squireship to be about building that relationship, and I would advise my fellow knights to consider it that way as well. It is a time to establish norms, to make your expectations clear, to develop the habit of frequently and meaningfully communicating with one another, to practice working side-by-side on projects, and to give you and your squire the opportunity to become closer friends. More than anything, I think that friendship is the most significant part of the knight and squire partnership. Throughout the course of the time we have had working together, I have become best friends with each of my squires. I have developed a deeper appreciation for who they are as individuals, been amazed by their personal strengths and their dedication towards being even stronger, and celebrated with them through each of their accomplishments. And it has been a joy and a privilege to do so each time.

So, in closing, that is my final advice in choosing a squire and in preparing that relationship to be a successful one. Find a person who you are enthused to work along side. Select someone whose victories you want to exalt in. Pick a mentee who you want to learn from even as they are learning from you. And, most of all, choose an individual who can become your best friend. If you are fortunate enough to do so, the entire experience will be a joy and a privilege and you will have grown from it as much as you have inspired that growth in your squire. I know I have.

On Becoming A Squire

Written by Lani Jones for The View from Valehaven

I was squired at Black and White 2012 to Jason Rosa, Lord Sir Aeston. It was probably one of the best decisions I made in my Realms career, but it was also one fraught with anxiety. The path that I took to become a squire is reflective of the type of person that I am and the character traits that are both my biggest assets and greatest weaknesses all rolled into one.

I was very indecisive about what path I wanted to take in the game. I remember a conversation with Jason when I was in college about where I saw myself in a few years, and he asked me if I would ever want to become a knight, or if my aspirations lay elsewhere. I couldn't answer his question at the time, because I have always been focused on the goal that is right in front of my nose (in this case, making it through college and finding a job). This has allowed me to accomplish many things in my life, but I can also be a bit short-sighted as a result. Knowing Jason as I do now, I can see he was probably laying the framework for a squireship that he knew would come to be in the years to come. I, of course, was oblivious.

As the years went by, I graduated college, and saw that my closest friends were beginning to really step up and serve the community. I watched Alysha toil for many hours on so many projects, and I thought to myself, "I can help too!" But I felt that my services were going unused. I had been somewhat unreliable during college, and had said no to a great many projects, but I was ready and willing to assist, and no one was asking me. I love to give my opinion, even unasked, and I was frustrated by my lack of involvement in the projects that Rhiassa was starting.

I always weigh my decisions very carefully, and I wanted to be sure that becoming a squire was the best path to achieve my new goal of becoming more involved. I discussed my idea with Jeremy and Alysha, and thought long and hard about it. I was nervous that I would fail and be unable to keep up with the level of dedication that I saw squireship to be. I struggled with the idea for several months before I finally decided that I was ready to live up to the ideals and dedication of a knight. That was the tough decision. The easy one was knowing who I would ask, and what order I wanted to be a squire to. There was really no question for me that I would ask to squire to the Knights of Rhiassa, and that the knight I would ask would be Aeston. Rhiassa is a nation founded on giving back to the community, and it is also my home, where my closest friends are. As for choosing Jason, he had always been there for me, and I knew that he would have a lot of teach me, and that he would push me to be the best version of myself. I didn't ask to be a squire until I knew I was ready to be a knight. Jason had been waiting for me to ask for longer than I had known what I wanted, but it was as simple as asking.

Why I Joined Rhiassa

Written by Alex Cannamela for The View from Valehaven

For me, joining Rhiassa was a natural evolution of my Realms career. My Realms career started with UCONN fight practices; a buddy (Ben Hamilton, aka Kyro) had told me about the practices, and they seemed like something I’d enjoy, so I went. After a couple weeks of fight practice, I went to my first event, Black and White, and joined the Oaken Guard, like most of the other SMAC newbies. It was through these fight practices and induction to the Oaken Guard that I was first introduced to Jason Rosa, or as I would come to know him in character, Lord Aeston.

During my time in the Oaken Guard, I learned that there is an expectation to “graduate” into another nation. As such, I spent much of my time trying to get to know groups (emphasis on trying; I am not exactly a social butterfly now, and was far more shy during my first year in Realms). What I found out was that for me personally, the best way to get to know a group was to NPC with them. I NPC’ed with a couple different groups, but in the end, one stood out to me: Rhiassa.

To elaborate, if one event left an impression on me, it was What Lurks Beneath. I will never forget the event. I was first struck with a feeling of awe as I looked upon the dungeon L’s, wondering how someone could have turned the quite plain Hick’s Arena into a full-blown dungeon like that. I was also impressed with the clever way the arena was divided into two, so that when the players were in one section, the other section was being rearranged to form a new room. What I learned at this event was I really liked not just NPC’ing, but taking initiative and going beyond what others expected of me. At the time, I was in the game for about two months; most of the other newbies with my level of experience had left by the end of the event. Among the few of us who remained were Katie Skeggs (aka Charlotte) and Ben Hamilton. All three of us would go on to be Rhiassans, and I do not think that this was mere coincidence. Instead, we all shared that passion of hard work, of seeing the job through, even if others quit or did not think it was worth it. This was my first experience NPC’ing Rhiassa, and it would definitely not be my last. Further NPC’ing with Rhiassa confirmed to me that this was definitely a group that I enjoyed working with.

After about a year or so in the game, I began very heavily thinking of moving on from the Oaken Guard to something else. Coincidentally (or maybe not; I have my suspicions, but do not want to be presumptuous), I began to get invited to out of character parties attended mostly by Rhiassans (and Nighthawk). Long story short, it did not take much consideration for me to settle on Rhiassa. For one, both of my closest friends in the game, Katie Skeggs and Ben Hamilton were strongly considering going there; this certainly did help my decision. What ultimately made me settle on Rhiassa, though, was the approach to the game of the nation. Having spent a year or so in the game, I knew that I wanted to contribute to this community; I knew I liked being on the event throwing/NPC’ing side of events; and I knew that I liked doing work. At the same time, I had seen that Rhiassa was a nation that greatly contributed to the community, and very much valued a strong work ethic. As such, at one of the parties all three of us asked to join Rhiassa. We were told that first we would have to join the Lion’s Militia, and enter a trial period of sort. This was to make sure that Rhiassa was a good fit for us and us a good fit for Rhiassa. At North-South War that year, I was inducted into the Lion’s militia.

After some months NPC’ing at some more events, helping with event prep, and PC’ing with the group, it was decided that I would be made a full member of the nation at Feast of Leviathan that year. That was approximately a year ago now. I am still in Rhiassa, though now I am squired to the Knights of Rhiassa under the tutelage of Sir Kyntela (Alysha Metcalf).

If there is one constant in Rhiassa, and in case I haven’t hinted at it strongly enough in previous paragraphs, it is the willingness to do work to help the community. I don’t think I can emphasize enough the phrase “willingness to do work.” Rhiassans are not just about planning events, coming up with new tournament ideas for Queen of Hearts, or designing new costumes for monsters; Rhiassans also go forth and make their plans reality with their own two hands. To me, being a Rhiassans is about not just dreaming big, but having the work ethic to make those big dreams come to life. Even the squiring process focuses on personal growth through doing meaningful work.

That is not to say that Rhiassa is perfect. When I was a newer member, I felt that I most of the important discussions took place between the knights and squires, and I felt ignored or left out during some of the discussions. I think the logic behind this is that the knights and squires have the required experience to have informed discussions, and newer/less experienced members might just spew every idea that came to mind. At the same time, I do not think it was done with any malice, and may not have even been intentional; these discussions often took place during time crunches. This would also bother me more, save that Rhiassa is definitely a meritocracy; if you have the work ethic the knighthood will notice you.

In addition, some might think we go a bit too far with our ideas, stress ourselves out a bit too much, and don’t relax enough. The truth is the work ethic can take an emotional toll after some time. I ended up feeling a bit burned out after Feast of Leviathan this year, and can’t imagine how the kitchen staff and others who I felt contributed more than I did must have felt. In the end though, being a Rhiassan is about looking at your hard work and that emotional toll that some events can have, and knowing that the joy and improvement you have brought to the community is far more than worth it.

Ultimately, Rhiassans are always striving to outdo ourselves. We go out there, throw the best event we can throw, and before the event is even over, we ask ourselves “How could I make this better?” And maybe one day, the answer will be that we can’t, that the event was totally perfect. But until that day comes, we will always put in the hard work and dedication, even if it makes things just a little bit better.