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The Wizards Behind the Curtain of the 2015 USDAA Cynosport World Games

A look at all the people involved in making Cynosport a wonderful event!

By Kama Rueschenberg

Being behind the scenes of Cynosport for the first time is a bit like being Dorothy and landing in Oz. There is so much to take in and those behind it are truly magical in what they can accomplish.

So, in no particular order, here are those who are responsible for creating the grand event that is the USDAA Cynosport® World Games:

Kenneth Tatsch - USDAA President, Ken is dedicated to the improvement of the Cynosport World Games each year. It is his vision that has led the shaping of the event over the years, and his goal is to provide the best competitive experience for handlers while at the same time showcasing dog agility's best to the public. He provides a watchful eye to head-off potential problems that could arise during the event. He, along with Andy Hartman and the rest of the USDAA staff, works year round on the event, planning for not only the next year's Cynosport World Games, but also the years following. Ken also serves as Executive Producer for the live stream on Cynosport.TV, setting parameters and providing guidance to the live stream production team for the finals webcast.

USDAA President Kenneth Tatsch assists with the return of equipment and supplies from Tennessee to the USDAA office. A final task that has to be done is putting items back in storage.

Andy Hartman - Vice President of USDAA, Andy took over management of logistics for the overall event in 2015. The tasks are too extensive to list, but include all things needed for the event and setting the timeline leading up to the event to assure everything is in place and ready to go come show day. He oversees the opening of the facility each day and assures that the course building crew has everything in place when the doors open at 5:00am. He and Ken work together in pre-event planning and have as a goal to integrate the competitors suggestions into future Cynosport events while adhering to the integrity of the event.

Tom Kula - Show Chair of the USDAA Cynosport World Games, Tom is the man in charge of putting together all things related to judging, scheduling, and staffing, while responding to needs arising during the event. His role is to bring the vision and requests from Ken and Andy into an efficient, seamless weekend event that competitors from around the world can enjoy.

Helen McNenly - Event Secretary of the USDAA World Games, Helen is the person on the receiving end of the thousand-plus Cynosport entries and numerous more inquiries. She, along with Tom, works tirelessly toward creating a schedule that allows handlers to compete with as few conflicts as possible, and keep the event moving efficiently. She also coordinates with ring scoring personnel to facilitate the scoring throughout the event.

Tim Verrelli - The Official Scorekeeper of the USDAA Cynosport World Games, Tim is responsible for integrating the scores from five different rings into one final results document. He is the person in charge of making sure scores are entered correctly and reviews any grievances filed regarding potential mistakes in scoring.

Annie DeChance - The Head of Public Relations for USDAA, Annie works year round to engage media with local, regional, and national USDAA competitions. She also helps ease communication between the local clubs and the USDAA office, and continuously brings focus to the ever-growing United States Dog Agility Association.

Mychelle Blake - The News Editor for USDAA's web page, Mychelle solicits, edits, and writes informative new material for the USDAA website, and assists Annie DeChance with the Cynosport website, coordinating news and social media posts for the event and USDAA throughout the year.

Chuck Kirlin - The Announcer & DJ for Cynosport. Chuck is the voice behind the announcements and is responsible for the creative selection of music for the entire event.

Jan-Paul van Es - The Instant Replay Engineer for Cynosport.  Jan-Paul is the person who consulted on the instant replay system that was integrated into Cynosport this year. He travels all the way from Netherlands to set up and operate the incredibly complex system that will now allow judges to review runs from Finals classes in order to ensure accuracy in calls placed (or missed) during those runs.

Leslie Bickel - The Volunteer Coordinator for Cynosport, Leslie works in conjunction with Tom Kula and Helen McNenly to create a volunteer schedule that provides the incredible ring crew at Cynosport. She devotes herself to finding a way for competitors to volunteer without conflicting with their runs as well as finding people who are interested in volunteering that are not competing.

Feathers - The Production Manager for Cynosport. Feathers orchestrates the assembly of the infrastructure of Cynosport, to assure it is set up and functioning smoothly each day of the event. He is a professional production manager brought in to see that the many small pieces that work to create the whole that is Cynosport, comes together as planned. Feathers supervises more than a dozen hired hands to assemble the event in the two days immediately preceding competitor arrival and taking it all down and packing it away in less than a day following the event.

Greg Fontaine - Live Stream Color Commentator, Greg served as analyst and commentator on the live stream of each of the tournament Finals, along with Andy Hartman and nick Sparks as co-hosts. This was his first year, taking over from Julie Daniels, who served this role for the past several years.

Nick Sparks - The Live Stream Interviewer for Nick is the person who is given the task of interviewing the winners of each Finals class in each height as part of the webcast. He is also the person who can be heard filling in for Andy Hartman as a play-by-play commentator on the live stream.

Merlene Stiles - A member of the USDAA Staff, Merlene is responsible for the vendors and their booths, coordinating their arrival and participation in the event, and responding to their needs during the event. When not working with vendors directly, she can be found in the USDAA booth. She also is responsible for coordinating the selection and ordering of polo shirts that are awarded to Semifinalists, Finalists and tournament winners, as well as the event T-shirts.

Heather Smith & Tev Brannan - Members of the USDAA Staff, they work together at the event to provide check-in, awards ceremonies, and hospitality for sponsors, vendors, judges and volunteers. Heather also provides administrative support for Ken, Andy and Tom throughout the year. 

The Judges - Each year an incredible lineup of USDAA judges is selected to design courses and judge at the Cynosport World Games. The judges are responsible for accurately judging hundreds of runs each day, and maintaining a professional, happy atmosphere with competitors. In 2015, each played an added role in supporting the officiating judge by reviewing video in the instant replay booth.

Tim Laubach - Chief Course Builder for the USDAA Cynosport World Games, Tim is an official judge of record for the event, whose role is focused solely on course building. Unique to the event Tim signs off on all course builds, relieving the officiating judges from this responsibility and providing a more cohesive build in each ring. Tim leads a team of non officiating judges, including Carol Voelker, Randy Holford, and Seth Dunn, along with an equipment management group, including Al Lamphere and John Marcus, among others. This unique, high caliber course building crew have total responsibility for getting the courses built each day and approved for running, as well as clearing the rings each night for dragging the arena floor. They often work through the night to be sure the event is ready to go when competitors arrive early each morning.

Bill Smith - Freelance Producer & Director for, heads a full production team for live streaming the tournament Finals, providing graphics, audio and video support and feeding the production to the web. His team also was able to place captured streams on the web for on-demand viewing within two hours of the conclusion of the each live event.

The Volunteers - There are numerous people who step in each year to assist those who are mentioned above.  In fact, so many people (more than 100) support the USDAA Cynosport World Games that it is impossible to list them all, but without them, the event would not be the incredible phenomenon that it is each year.

Thank you to each and every person who is a part of the USDAA Cynosport World Games! A special thank you to all of the volunteers who graciously give their time. The Cynosport World Games is a huge display of teamwork at its finest!


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