As I sat down to write the “Beehive Sports Turns 5 Years Old” letter last year, I forced a smile, on my face and in my letter.
There was, in reality, a lot to smile about. Beehive was doing more and more of what it set out to do — take salt city strangers and turn them into salt city friends.
But deep down, I was scared out of my mind. This creature that started as an arts and crafts project in my mom’s kitchen had transformed into a Yeti-sized beast, but hairier. Thousands of games refereed. Hundreds of eggs tossed. Dozens of life long relationships forged and cemented. At least two ridiculously fun nights at the bar that I’d pay good money to have security camera footage of.
And I was leaving.
Moving 5,120 miles east to Bonn, Germany. Pulled away by a family illness that we couldn’t ignore, Sasha and I left our home here in Utah for a prolonged goodbye to an amazing human being.
Would Beehive be okay sans Beehive Dave? The question danced around in my head ad nauseam. For the first month I was gone (I kid you not), I woke up at the start of kickball each week — 3AM Germany time — in a sweat. Wondering — did Jimmy had all the cones? Wondering — was everyone still having fun?
It’d be foolish to pretend there weren’t hiccups but the answers to those questions and more are a credit to the integrity of the people who stepped up to lead in my absence.
First and foremost, Mitch Felkel. Balancing two fullish-time jobs for much of the year, Mitch dived in and fought the tide to a draw. It’s hard to overstate how much work he has put into the club in the last year+. He has a passion for going above and beyond for our community. If you’ve ever asked him a question or sent him a complaint, you already know that.
For every game night he wasn’t at, he was one his phone or in person somewhere else fighting to get us better fields, better sponsors, better equipment, better medical kits, better everything.
Late last year he made it a priority for our club to have better, friendlier, more knowledgable referees this year. If you’ve been out there, you can see that work in action.
I am…no…we are indebted to his tireless hard work.
And if you’re thinking, “how hard can it be to organize a few games of flag football and then head to a bar?”, let me paint you a picture of 2016 Beehive Sport and Social Club. 4,374 people played on 475 teams in 34 leagues made up of 12 different sports. In addition to plenty of laughter, as a group they’ve given over $25,000 to local Utah charities since 2011.
Jimmy, as usual, deserves a large chunk of the thanks too. His objective enthusiasm for every single person he comes across is a model we should all aspire to imitate.
Mike Martin continues to invent a new role for himself every season. From webmaster to captain to referee to photoshop artist, he is the Pennzoil that keeps the Beehive engine squeaky clean.
We used to say captains are to Beehive Sports as pastrami is to the Crown Burger. Well, we might have to update that to say DJ Benway because his limitless photography of our leagues makes us all look more succulent than we are in person. He is a true artist. If you’d ever like to hire him for your events, go here.
More recently Pete Hemingway and Libbie Brown have stepped up to lead. Pete is blazing star trails of hilarity on our social media channels. Libbie organized the 135 person St. Patricks Day pub crawl extravaganza — our largest and most fun crawl ever.
From Day 1 of this crazy rollercoaster, Jimmy and I have remarked between gulps of air that Beehive can and will only be as strong as the willingness of it’s community to step up and make it happen. In addition to the work of the people above, lots of players are stepping up to referee their favorite sports. Allen Schowengardt, Collin Wallace, Sheena Brown, Sara Macriss, Whit Miller, Sara Parker Charboneau, Josh Whitaker, Ryan Chisolm, Josh Campbell, Cody Goforth, Dylan Kohler, Natalie Dunyon and many more. If/when you see these people out the fields, give them a hug. Or if that’s too awkward, a nod of thanks is perfect.
This portion of the letter would be incomplete without a serious tip of the cap to the Beehive OG’s — people who’ve played in at least one league since 2011. Michael Webber, Jackie Judd, David & Sara Charboneau, Chris Anderson, Johnny Thanadabouth, Joe Williams, Michelle Charboneau, Michelle Zimmerman, Dawn Matthews, Lauren Erlacher, Dan Scott, Ben & Kendra Draper, Matt Savas, Aaron Asman, Lauren Anderson, Chris Hemsley, Tiff Wilkinson, Sam Syzkula, Rex Bigelow, Chris Ford, Kyle Milne, Brick Jensen, Colby Thompson, Dan Lizon and Kramer Young. The chances that you play Beehive Sport and Social Club and don’t recognize a few names on this list are slim to none. These are the folks who provide a regular reminder of what it means to be a member of Beehive Sports. They silently do and say things to show newcomers the friendliness with which we should all treat each other.
I feel like one of the luckiest people on Earth to call them all friends of mine.
As of April 2017 I’m happy to say Sasha and I are back in Utah for good. Not to take a song off we are expecting our first child in early June. I can’t wait to share him with you at an upcoming game.
In Beehive HQ (aka your local coffee shop) we are focused, as usual on making the club stronger. That starts with Mitch fine tuning the operations, continues with Libbie, Jimmy, Mike and Pete leading our events, leagues, web and social (respectively) and ends with me pushing our club to meet new parts of itself.
That may sound weird but I truly think we have all the people we want/need. Sure, there’s probably a few more “Beehivey” SLCers out there. We’ll let them board our pirate ship if they can swashbuckle with the rest of us. But my smile’s a lot wider when I see the all women's kickball team take the field (with people formerly from 6+ different social niches) than most any other team.
To this end, we are planning a “New Friendgasm Night” at kickball this year where we scramble the teams for one week. If it goes well I hope we can extend it to other sports. We’re also launching our first all “free agent” kickball league later in the summer. Sign up and I guarantee you’ll make 9+ brand new friends on the first night (3 or 4 may become enemies at some point, but that’s life, right?)
As we do what we do, I also guarantee, we’ll make mistakes — it’s inevitable. But what’s also inevitable is our desire to hear out the complaints they create and respond with generosity when and wherever possible.
If you’d like to step up this year and take on a little extra responsibility don’t hesitate to reach out. There are a million ways to contribute — large and small.
And whether you’re a Beehive Babe, a Beehive Dude or a Beehive person of mixed gender identity please please please don’t hesitate to reach out your hand and say “hi, I’m..” to someone new.
It’s simultaneously the easiest and hardest thing most us have a regular opportunity to do in our day-to-day lives.