Greater Trenton English Dart League

Greater Trenton English Dart League (GTEDL)

Contributions by Bill Cobb, President; USPS, Mailroom/Building Supervisor – 2004

Gary Yourman, Tournament Director; Manager, Thin Client Computing @ Bristol-Myers Squibb Company

We currently have fifteen teams, we had started this past season with sixteen teams. We have one hundred and thirty plus members. We have been running two different divisions the last two years and we used two different scenarios to accomplish that. One scenario was playing all teams once and seeing where the split was and then we put the top six in the A division and the rest in the B. With sixteen teams initially we thought we needed to start with divisions in the beginning since playing each other once to determine divisions would only make the season too long and the beginning of the season didn’t really mean so much to them since most teams were the same from previous seasons and everyone knew which division they’d fall into. More than half the teams were not up to the skill level of the top four teams so those fifteen weeks or so didn’t mean that much to those top four teams. It didn’t help their skills progress. So we tried something else, put the top four teams into our A division and the rest in our B division. The A division played each other four times in the first half while the 12 B division teams played each other once in the first half. Then the top two teams in B, after the first half, earned a spot in the A division in the second half of the season. We had a cash prize for them, and a trophy, to give them something to shoot for in the first half. It became very competitive but some people thought it was a little monotonous playing the same three teams over and over but what we liked was that it was competitive for us so it made the whole season interesting so we are currently tinkering with that and maybe we’ll come up with another format.

We don’t want a handicap system though some people think there should be a handicap so that is an issue on going with how to make things more even amongst the entire league.

About ninety percent of the membership lives in Trenton, Hamilton, Hamilton Square, Yardville and Ewing, some in Titusville and other outlying areas, so we’re within twenty to thirty miles. For the most part we’re west Mercer County with a handful over the boarder in Pennsylvania who don’t want to go to Philly, but are only two minutes over the bridge.

I’ve (Gary) been shooting here nine years and I would say that we have a trickle in of new players every year and a trickle out of players who have been here quite a few years but I think most of our members have been here as long as I have. Probably sixty five percent or so have been members for the past nine years as well. I’ve (Bill) been a member for 13 years.

The majority of our members are blue collar, married, thirty to fifty years old. We do not have a women’s league. One year we had an all women’s team but they were more competitive than the men as far as bumping heads and they really got catty and they broke up after that one year. We have a few women scattered through out the league.

We have five Directors officially, a President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and ad hoc Director, all of whom are paid. In addition, we have a Tournament Director, Gary, and Ambassador to the community, Lori Ann Pockell. She runs a lot of the events that are going on each week, like the luck of the draws. We have a few people who will lend a hand to help out when needed. We have a competition committee that we convene as needed each year. It consists of captains and players . The number of people we have who are willing to raise their hand and say I’ll help is like most other organizations, not many!

Our officers, with the exception of the two newest, plus Lori have been around for at least nine years.

We are not associated with a national organization. I contacted the ADO once or twice and have heard nothing. I received an email from them and sent a very detailed email back about what our problems are and what we do and I haven’t heard.

We’ve reached out to other leagues that are close to where we are but there hasn’t been much interest, so far, from the closest league in Bordentown as far as joining together to form a larger league. We’ve been in touch with Russ down in Philly, they’ve helped us with a couple of things including our charity tournament. We’re trying to let other leagues know when there are events in our area. Once again it goes back to the ADO question. We’ve contacted them for a mailing list or some sort of contact list but failed to receive anything from them. They’ve never been able to give me a value as to why we should join.

Bars pay a $125 fee to be in the league and players pay $20 for the year. As a league we do not do fund raising events but individual teams will in order to get money for shirts and stuff like that. We get sponsorship from the area’s largest Budweiser distributor. They’ve donated dart boards the last couple of years, and t-shirts for all the teams. When we have summer tournaments they help out with sponsorship and give prizes we can give out and there’s a local trophy shop that gives us a discount as well.

We have by laws, they consist of one document of eight pages. It goes through the structure of the league right down to the actual rules of how you perform the duties of a captain. Starting time gives us the most trouble. There are very few complaints year to year that are something we can take action on. It seems there is one match a year we’ll get phone calls on that – we didn’t finish – the score was five to four at the time – so if there were two games left the final score is now six to five. There is now a rule that says at eleven o’clock if you are only so far down you shoot singles instead of best of three, you shoot on the second board, you resolve it between the two teams. I don’t think we have such a problem that we have a rules violation that happens every week. We go from what we hear, that if there was something the previous year that was not in our rules that needs to be addressed that will come up in the proper way, at the captains meeting at the beginning of the next year. We’ll say here are the rules changes and we have a vote. The biggest problem is those who talk about a complaint to everybody except the right people, the President or Secretary, and by the time I hear about it a couple of weeks later there is nothing I can do about it.

We play six singles and five doubles which includes a Chicago style (501, cricket, 301).

The Secretary does the schedule. We have an issue where there are a lot of bars with two teams so you have to juggle home and away matches so there are only two teams in the bar on any given night. It was always the goal to have the best two teams in a division to play the last week of the season. We try to have every team have an equal number of home games.

The league does not get involved in luck of the draws in individual bars. Lori Ann is our player ambassador and she runs a weekly luck of the draw. This year we plan to build a few official tournaments into the schedule including a singles or GHS style tournament, a doubles tournament and a charity tournament.

We encourage people to come out to the luck of the draws and learn about the game and ask questions. Each team takes it upon themselves to teach people that need help during the season. One thing we’ve created is a summer tour where we travel to bars that are not in the league and don’t have teams and hold a luck of the draw tournament showcasing our league in hopes of generating interest. It has been successful; we’ve picked up some new bars. We’ve done three a year so that’s nine bars and now we’re sort of running out of bars. We’re asking for $100 toward prize money and guaranteeing we will have twenty to twenty four guys from our league, plus who ever shows up from their bar, and we’ve always had that number. It’s been quite successful in promoting our league.

Through the course of the season we will have three to four meetings and two of them are regularly scheduled, at the beginning and the end, then when ever one is needed. The scheduled meetings are to set up the league with who is going to be playing and which teams there will be, and to collect dues. The first meeting of a season is attended the best and we hope to have every bar represented, if not every team in order to collect player dues and bar fees The meeting in the middle of the season is to distribute the second half schedule, pick up the league tee shirts, and answer any questions anybody might have.

At least 50% of the rosters on the top four teams have been consistent throughout the past five to six seasons. The top teams stay pretty consistent. We’ve thought about putting the top B teams from the previous year in the A division. From the league perspective that’s one of the biggest challenges we face year to year, is figuring out the format for the divisions of how to divide teams. There are people who very much like the social aspect and like to see and play every body, and as you get closer to the top teams they’d rather play a competitive team every week. Me, being in the upper echelon of the shooters, I don’t want to play teams that aren’t good to beat up on them. The casual player will often say ‘We won’t get better if we don’t play better people every day.

When we get inquires our first goal is to get them to come out on Thursday night and meet some of the players and captains. The person who does well will get picked up by a team pretty fast but unfortunately the person who does not play well will be given a list of names and told to call them. We won’t place people on teams but we will make sure captains know there are people looking to get on teams. We had a person who got placed on a B team and was too good for them, so ended up playing in Philly where if he’d gotten on an A team he probably would have stayed in our league.

Our primary method of contacting members is through the captains, who we contact by email or phone if necessary. We have a lot of faith in our captains, for one thing, so at the start of the year they get their rosters printed out: here’s what you told us you have, fill in the gaps. Like, if they don’t tell us what shirt size they get XL by default. On our list of members there is solidly 35 to 40 emails so that’s still only 30%. We contact members through email, and snail mail if we have their address and we put a flyer in every bar. I think for a forward looking perspective this is the toughest thing we have to do. After our charity event we had people ask: ‘we had a charity event?’ It aggravates the hell out of me that we can’t get information to one hundred thirty people. Through captains, a call tree, we don’t have valid information and that is a goal this year: to fill that in.

Tactically we look at the league year to year. There are ideas out there that we know are two or three years away. We know at some point we need to make some drastic changes or we will collapse on ourselves. There are tough things to do in the coming year because they seem too drastic to the teams or the captains, or the structure of the league. There are some things we might do part of this year and the rest of it the year after.

One thing that has to be addressed is this division thing and playoffs. And we can’t keep the league running with the same two teams winning every year so we have to figure out a way to do something about that.

The home and away captains are supposed to call in the score. We have three part score sheets and we have self addressed envelopes to mail in a copy. The goal is to get the results in time to have them back out in time for the following week.

We’ve been thinking about a youth effort but need to look for some ideas on it. Our goal is to get this league back to what it was back in the day and one way might be to go the youth route.

We recruit with the summer tour, and lucks of the draw, the web site, and we’ve had some publicity with the charity tournament, the thirtieth anniversary of Conrad Daniels success in England. We are starting to include the local paper in the information about things we are doing. If they decide to come out that would be something someone on the board will stay on top of all the time. The players in the league tell people in the places where they play and I think word of mouth is probably the biggest way of recruiting.

We try to recruit Directors from the league but it took two years to get one replacement.

We use the summer tour to attract sponsors and call them following the event in their bar to follow up with them to see if they are interested in sponsoring a team.

A sponsor has to have two boards in good shape, proper lighting and specs of a dart area that are within the guidelines of the rules. At the beginning of the year every bar is visited to ensure they are in compliance.

We have a picnic at the end of each year where we present plaques and trophies for first, second and third within a division, individual awards for first place in a division. High on, high out, ton eighties, ton seventy ones, round of nine, six corks get a small gift every year.

We have a great group of people. There is no animosity when you go into a bar. It’s a fun night out regardless of who you are playing or where you are. The picnic is a good thing, an enjoyable thing. The people have a good time. Family members come out, we throw a luck of the draw and trophies are awarded there.

The bitching about things to the wrong people about how the league is being run but not being willing to step up is the most aggravating thing we have. Lack of participation in organizing tournaments is what really drives us nuts.

Playing in our league is closer than going to Philly and it’s practically free. For $20 you get to play all year, you get a $10 tee shirt and an ‘all you can eat and drink picnic.

For information: www.njdarts.com and click on the GTEDL link.

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