Unfiltered Story #139371

, , | Unfiltered | February 7, 2019

(I’m involved as an official in the local level of an international academic competition; teams of kids compete in a local tournament for the chance to go on to the state tournament and from there to the international tournament. The local level structure is entirely volunteer-run; there are a couple dozen of us who volunteer year-round and organize things, and then each team has to supply two volunteers whom we train to act as judges, monitors, administrative helpers, and so forth for the actual tournament day. Because we need these volunteers to make things work, and they are often the parents of kids competing, I have to be bit careful with their feelings — in a way, they are both staff and customers.

During a team performance, the judges are busy, but administrative helpers are waiting to get result for processing, so I’m chatting with one of them. It so happens that his daughter who is competing goes to the same school as my daughter, who is also competing. The school contains only 5th and 6th grades.)

Me: “Yeah, I’ve got one competing in [specific part of the competition]. She’s on the 6th-grade team for [school].”

Volunteer: “So is mine! She’s [name].”

(My daughter is one of two girls on her team, and the name he just gave me is not the other one. And I was told when they were forming teams earlier in the year that there was just one 6th-grade team.)

Me: *surprised tone* “She’s a 6th-grader? I thought [school] just had one 6th-grade team this year, the one [my daughter’s coach] is coaching, and all the rest were 5th.”

(I am now internally freaking out a bit, because there are levels in the competition that don’t correspond to our school district’s divisions — 5th-grade teams are in the lower level, and 6th-grade teams are in the middle level, and mixed-grade teams have to compete in the level that their oldest participant would have to compete in. A team with mixed 5th- and 6th-grade students that competed in the lower level would have to be disqualified — which would completely suck, but I could not keep silent if made aware of it, because it would be unfair to other teams who belonged in the level.)

Volunteer: “No, she’s on the one my wife is coaching. [Name], in [part of competition].”

Me: “And they’re 6th-graders?”

(I have now flipped through the schedules and verified that this team is indeed competing in the lower level. I’m starting to spin scenarios in my head for how we can fix this without disqualifying them, which will probably involve tracking the team down and getting them to re-do their performance in the judging room for the correct level, shoe-horning them into what should have been a break, and oh man, I hope that they haven’t left the building, and I need to go find the tournament director and get her involved….)

Volunteer: “Oh, wait, maybe she’s a 5th-grader. She’s 10.”

(Of course, having had the issue raised, I couldn’t take his on-second-thought word for it. I had to go track down the team’s paperwork, which includes birthdates and grade levels for each kid on the team. Fortunately, they were all 5th-graders. Whew!)

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