I was in Yellowstone National Park around September 2011. I was with a friend from college in front of a campfire miles away from cell phone service. I was choking back tears explaining to him that this thing called Beehive Sports, which I loved, wasn’t going to have enough flag football players to form a league. There were only three teams and the league started the following week. I was afraid that if we didn’t have enough people and we didn’t have a season, people would lose interest and faith and the whole idea of a sport+social club in Salt Lake City would fall on it’s face.
The next day when we drove back into cell range, my phone started buzzing over and over again. One email registration confirmation message after another. Five more teams had signed up since I’d left civilization a few days earlier. I was shocked. I was again choking back tears. The dream was still alive.
Beehive is 8 years old with thousands of people having fun playing 50+ leagues and 12+ sports. HOLY SHIT.
I can’t help but laugh at how much my life has changed in that time. 8 years ago I was a 25 year old loose cannon. I ate dinner at the sponsor bar every night after league play was over. I was the guy on my block who didn’t cut his grass (don’t be this guy). I considered a paint striping machine to be the rightful heir to my most prized possession, a computer monitor. Now, I have two kids and a mortgage and I called an “arborist” this week to come check on the health of a tree in our front yard. Talk about hardcore adulting, amirite?
Well, not everything has changed. Wednesday is still kickball. Sunday is still flag football. Sunnyside is the same. So is Liberty. And, so so many of the friends I made that very first season are still my friends. Many of them have multiple kids too now.
And over the last eight years, so many more people have become absolute cornerstones of the friendliest community in Salt Lake City. I won’t list them all here. I couldn’t. The list would span hundreds of names and I’d leave out a few amazing ones by accident. I’ll simply say this. If you’ve ever been a captain or made a free agent addition feel welcome; if you’ve ever made a lifelong memory on a pub crawl or stepped up to help referee when we needed someone; if you’ve ever sent an email with feedback and suggestions for us or brought drinks to share with your team
…If you’ve ever done any of those things then you are a leader of Beehive Sport & Social Club. The community owes you a debt of gratitude for making it a little bit better. Someone I admire greatly is quoted saying, “culture is nothing more than people acting out “people like us, do things like this.” Beehive’s culture is so strong because there’s such a clear sense of who we are and how people like us ought to treat one another.
From the bottom of my heart — to all of you who have done those things above — thank you for helping create and sustain a culture of fun and friendliness.
When I write these letters, I try to accomplish two things. First, I try and set forth a clear vision of what my priorities for Beehive are in the next 12 months. And second, I try and paint of picture of Beehive that league players might immediately see. A proverbial peak behind the curtain.
Let’s start with the second one.
As I said, Beehive is a culture indebted to thousands but led, day to day, by just a handful of folks. I’d like to share with you what they do and what I think of them.
Referee is a hard job. The only time we want to talk about them is when they’ve fucked something up. I’ve reffed hundreds and hundreds of games. I’ve been told “good job” exactly three times. And I’ve been yelled at/complained about many more times than 3. Stepping up to fill-in on short notice is great but we owe an extra tip of the cap to the people who’ve stepped up to referee week in and week out. So, next time you see James Accettura or Aaron Berg or Mike Erlacher or Tyrel Winder or Colton Robinson or Brian Preece or Cody Goforth or Godwin Smith or Jon McDaniel or Emma Scanlon or Bryant Rosales or Forrest Beck or Kevin Moffit or Dylon Kohler or Dave Morin…give them a hug and say “good job.”
What even is social media in 2019? Is it a way to connect or just a fancy new way to jerk off? I don’t know. What I do know is the smartest thing I’ve done in a long time was asking Pete Hemingway and Kiana Wright to take over the Beehive Instagram and Snapchat channels. They both do a wonderful job echoing “people like us do things like this.” Pete in particular is a gem. The thought and care that he puts into our Instagram page is other-worldly. If you confront him about it, he’ll shrug it off because that’s who he is. Don’t believe it. Pete generosity with regard to Beehive Sports deserves special commendation. He’s a special person doing special things for the community.
Last but certainly not least, our commissioner. Collin Wallace is a name you’ve seen on emails and Facebook posts. He’s a contact in your phone that might have asked you to referee recently. He’s a great athlete and a husband and a dad. And in his role he’s the shepherd to thousands of after work athletes around the valley. But that barely scratches the surface of what he does to make the trains run on time (or Beehive Time I should say). I started to make a list of the things that Collin is responsible for looking after:
When I ran out of room I quit. I’m confident I could’ve filled 3 more pages. Collin has an added dimension of challenge to his job too. His mistakes are more visible than most peoples. We’re not talking Lindsey Lohan-coke-rage-car-crash visible but we’re also not talking accounting-presentation-was-underwhelming either.
Plus, he’s working for his friends. Letting your friends down is 100x harder than letting Sharon in HR down. And trust me, there will always be mistakes. There are too many balls being juggled not to let a few hit the floor from time to time. Find me a sports league without a few gaffes and I’ll slap you in the face for being so gullible as to even start looking. When I held Collin’s position, I made tons of mistakes. I let my friends down. It hurt. I fully expected them to leave Beehive. Most didn’t. For a long time, I wondered “why?” Then I figured it out.
They didn’t show up to play Beehive for the best referees or the equipment or fields. They came for the friendship. Luckily that’s where me then Mitch and now Collin excel. Next time you see Collin, say thanks go give him a high five or a hug or a nod. His work over the last 18 months deserves no less.
Alright, that’s a view of Beehive from behind home plate. Now, let’s talk about what’s coming down the pipeline. Largely, happily and perhaps a bit boringly — a lot more of the same! We’ve got a good thing going. We don’t need to tear down as much as we have the opportunity to tinker. Here are a few things we’re planning to tinker with:
- As more people want to play certain sports, we need to be especially mindful that we don’t expand leagues too quickly. Wednesday soccer this spring was 172% bigger (in terms of people signed up) than it was last spring. That’s great but it also causes logistical issues that we haven’t done a wonderful job handling. We’re focused on making Beehive available to more people but never growing a league more than 25% at a time.
- We’re always thinking about going greener. To that end, we introduced reusable t-shirt bags that have been a big hit. It’s fun to see people sending us photo of them from inside a local grocery store. To save paper, we plan to hand out small whiteboards to the captains of some leagues so they can jot their lineup down without waste. If you have more ideas on how to cut down on our impact, let us know!
- Giving back to local charities has always been a mainstay of Beehive Sports. Money for non-profits mostly. While that’s great, I think we can do better. We are looking to sponsor a youth sports team and donate lots of recess equipment for SL district schools. If you have any other ideas, let us know!
- Setting teams up to have a wonderful experience is one of the most important things we do. To that end, we’re going to provide teams with a “Team Mom” sheet to start the season. This sheet will encourage teams to take turns bringing drinks/orange slices for the rest of the team. It’ll also help disseminate phone numbers so team text message threads ensure better communication. We’ll also be making Week 1 a mustache theme week this summer and giving out mustaches so that everyone can participate. We hope this sets the dial on the season speedometer to…silly.
Hopefully these tweaks lead to an even better Beehive experience in the year to come. Assuredly, you continuing to do what it is that you do best — make friends, have fun and play sports — will guarantee it’s a year to remember!
Thanks for your time and attention. Writing this letter is an activity I look forward to each and every year. If there’s anything I can do for you or Beehive can do for you. Please don’t hesitate to send me a text! 8015200708 :)