I love writing this letter each year but I also dread it. It’s the closest thing to a true love/hate relationship I have. On one hand, it’s great. I get to reflect on the last year, give thanks to those who’ve made significant contributions and provide a roadmap of the next 12 months to come. On the other hand, it’s stressful. How do you properly sum up thousands of games and hundred of thousands of interactions?
This dynamic leads to one inexorable feeling: anxiety.
Every year I procrastinate, stall, delay and then wake up one day with supersized energy to put on my big boy pants and write the damn thing. Lock the door, turn on the jams and pound the keys until I’m sufficiently satisfied.
Last year, I couldn’t manage it. I couldn’t overcome the anxiety. I didn’t write the letter. Pandemics, while good for Purell and Air High-fives, are bad for anxiety. Mine was at an all time high last May. We’d shut down everything Beehive in mid-March and I wasn’t sure when/if we’d ever be back.
You know that phrase, “it’s always darkest before the dawn”? Well, that perfectly sums up my experience. I remember it well. It was March 22nd and I was visiting my mom and we were stuck in the doomscroll death spiral. Reading the headlines, the predictions, the forecasts (check this one out by The NY Times!).
And then, like Matt Damon on Mars, I just said fuck this. This is a problem and we’re gonna work the problem. I called Jimmy and made 73 loops pacing her driveway as we formulated a plan. Our revelation was simple: Beehive Sports wasn’t about sports it was about people. It always has been and always will be.
And, that is how Zoom Bingo, Zoom Trivia, Netflix N’ Chill and many other half baked Zoom-____ ideas were born. Hell, I even shaved my head into a Benjamin Button cut at one point just to lighten the mood.
The results, looking back, are astounding (minus the haircut). We raised nearly $15,000 for Fisher Brewing, The Utah Pride Center, Brewvies, The Utah Food Bank, Toys for Tots, Image Reborn Breast Cancer Counseling and The Park Cafe.
HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who participated, donated and entertained. Ryan and Jordan, Jackie, Janni and Fi, Kellie Gerbers, Collin Wallace, Jimmy and the rest. Your support during those first few Zoom’s bouyed my belief in the now obvious “We’re gonna get through this” social Bingo ball tagline.
While I enjoyed my temporary game-show-host-yelling-at-computer-screen-from-my-basement career detour, more work was happening behind the scenes. We were planning our escape from the basement back to the kickball fields.
We make said escape in mid-July. And, to be honest, that first week was strange. We lathered everyone up in hand sanitizer, disinfected flag football belts between games and added about 75 pounds of weight to our kickball base boxes. Big tip of the cap here to the Salt Lake Department of Health. They were easy to work with, super responsive and really did a lot to keep everyone safe as our leagues began again.
This letter would incomplete without a hearty thanks to all our 2020 referees and players. Shit was scary. There were a lot more questions than answers. Call it bravery or ignorance, it’s a fine line anyhow. Either way, you put Beehive on your shoulders and dragged it across the 2020 finish line.
And yes, Saturday afternoon fall kickball, pioneered in the darkest of days of the collective Covid nightmare will live on in 2021.
Winter approached and we made a difficult decision — no sports. It didn’t feel right playing inside while Covid-19 raged on. We’ve always tried to approach league decisions with a certain mentality — what would we do if it was our good friend? And, with that lens putting our friends in harms way was a non-starter.
Last winter, Collin Wallace, our commissioner for the better part of the last 3 years, left Beehive. He and his wife relocated to the east coast to be closer to family. This letter would be incomplete without a BIG thanks to Collin for all his hard work. Under his leadership Beehive grew leaps and bounds whilst the player experience remained top notch — not an easy feat to accomplish.
Last winter, Pete Hemingway also left his seat at the Beehive table as Social Media Czar. He needed a break and who could blame him. He eat, slept and breathed Beehive Instagram for more than 3 years. It might be seven year, I lost count. He did a remarkable job humanizing Beehive on the interwebs. Spotlighting new members, giving dogs of Beehive a platform and rallying people to send in their little league soccer photos so we could all see a time in our lives when we were truly respectable athletes. Thanks for all your hard work, Pete.
At the same time our beloved league photographer and a friend to all human and animal kind, DJ Benway, started a new chapter of his adventure in Richmond, Virginia. DJ took countless photos of Beehivers over the last 4 years. His talent behind the lens is only surpassed by his fun-loving nature. I miss DJ and am forever grateful for his contributions to our community.
So, last November we stepped back to a simpler time. I was Commissioner again (my third stint, you can’t get rid of me!) and Jimmy was, well, Jimmy. There wasn’t much going on. Maybe what a Smoky The Bear feels like when he goes into his cave for a long winter nap. Home, mask, home. You know the routine.
Then, the clouds parted. The vaccine arrived. The weather turned and on the horizon, a tsunami of people appeared. A combination of people being cooped up and so many people moving to Salt Lake City last year converged to nearly drown our little sports league.
Aside: If you’re a life long Utahn or just moved here a handful of years ago, take a moment to appreciate the fact that our little city is a genuine boom town right now. People are moving here in flocks. It’s kind of cool to be living through a proverbial gold rush. The secret of SLC is definitely out.
Anyway, enter Lindsey Enright — the new Commissioner of Beehive Sport and Social Club! Lindsey has played Beehive Sports for nearly 8 years at this point. She’s everything that makes a great commissioner: responsible, proactive and friendly. When Lindsey sees something that needs fixing, she rolls up her sleeves. It’s a trait not many people exhibit. I remember a few years ago, Lindsey was playing in our cornhole league. She kept texting me that we should add a scoring system to the cornhole boards. I was too busy to attend to it at the moment. But when I showed up at Fisher to investigate her idea a couple weeks later, there was already an awesome scoring system on the boards. That is Lindsey Enright in a nutshell.
We are all lucky to have Lindsey holding the reigns. I can’t wait to see where she leads this community! Reach out to her anytime at Lindsey@BeehiveSports.com.
In April, another Beehive stalwart stepped up to help lead our social media efforts — Kate Johnson. You’re may be thinking: Instagram? How hard could it be to post a few photos? Well, it’s not easy and it takes daily diligence. Moreover, in my opinion, it’s incredibly important. If our 100 year mission is to make Salt Lake a friendlier place to live, Instagram is our bullhorn to tell that story. To weave a narrative about the power of friendship and the possibility for sports to transcend wins and losses. 99% of our sports diet is about cutthroat competition. One upping each other and being the “better” player/person. It doesn’t have to be that way. We’re here to make that other 1% as loud as it can be.
I couldn’t be more impressed with Kate’s ability to tell that story. I can’t wait to read the next chapter(s) she writes. Share your 1% Beehive experience with Kate anytime — Kate@BeehiveSports.com
With the wheels greased and spinning, where to from here? Good question!
First off, I’d like to see philanthropic efforts become more integrated into the Beehive Sports experience. I’d love to live in a world where signing up to play in a kickball league comes with an expectation you’ll be donating time and energy to the larger SLC community.
We’re playing around with a few different ideas right now. Monthly oppotunities to serve food at the St. Vincent’s food pantry, work with kids at the local Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater SL and a partnership to match Beehivers with under privileged youth via the Big Brothers and Big Sisters program. If you’d like to help steer this part of the ship, please reach out. We’d love to have your input.
Second, let’s talk referees. They are the lifeblood of Beehive Sports. They are the bravest and most generous people I know. But I’m concerned about them and how they’re being treated. I see too many people verbally abusing them for doing what can only be described as making a judgement call. Yelling things they’d never yell at another stranger.
To a certain extent, it’s a natural extention of the larger sport landscape. Players in professional leagues berate referees without consequence. Instant replay makes us think every call should be “correct.” And, every mistake should be pointed out for the world to see.
It doesn’t have to be like that. We can play and have a good time AND realize that referees are humans and will make mistakes. Those two realities can co-exist. Sure, I get it. It’s a bummer if the call doesn’t go your way when you feel like it should have. But is it really worth yelling and screaming about? Are you really surprised that a social league doesn’t have professionally trained referees? And maybe most revealing, with how you’ve acted/seen others act in the past would you ever have the courage to step up and do the job?
So, there’s a new line in the sand. Disrespect toward referees will not be tolerated. The refund your money>>delete you from the league process is a mere four clicks of the computer mouse. Anyone reported to be verbally abusing their referee will immediately be subject to those four clicks.
Now can you have an adult conversation with the referee at the next stoppage in play about why they made the call they did? Absolutely! That’s how referees improve. They learn from their mistakes just like the rest of us.
In my experience, there’s a right way and wrong way to have that interaction. And it’s not hard to tell them apart from a football field away.
Be nice to your referees! They are donating their time for $15/hour to make sure you can have fun with your friends. They deserve your respect even if you disagree with them at times.
Okay, we’ve come full circle here. Beehive Sports is 10 FUCKING YEARS OLD. Feels like something we should celebrate, right? Maybe have a party? I agree.
We’re going to have that party on Pioneer Day this year. It’s going to be a big party. I wanna have a band. And a beer truck and a giant bouncy house. And maybe an ice luge. Eh, maybe too soon on the ice luge.
Party plans will be revealed very soon, circle July 24th on your calendar ;)
Until then, see you on the fields.