Tidewater Area Darting Association

Tidewater Area Darting Association (TADA)

Contribution by: Cecil Winstead, Chairman, Project Engineer for Govt. Contractor

Chris Bender, Tournament Director, Copier Service Technician – 2004

(Cecil) TADA began in 1973 and takes up Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, and Suffolk. We also attract players from as far away as Williamsburg and North Carolina.

(Cecil & Chris) We have approximately 350 players per year running 3 seasons a year. We hold an annual awards banquet. We oversee one National Tournament that is currently worth $30,000 and several smaller tournaments a year. This will be the 2nd year that we have hosted the Virginia State Championships. We also have a Team Event Tournament, the Dave Ray Memorial, for the benefit of the American Cancer Society in Dave’s name. Dave Ray, Sr. was a part of TADA for many years. He played in the league for a long time. He and his wife, Jackie, ran the Registration Desk for years and years, way before my time (Chris Bender).

I (Cecil Winstead) am the only member of the original TADA from 1973 that was formed by Frank and Jan Owens in the Hampton area. The Golden Palace, which I was partial owner of, in Oceanview (Norfolk) brought darts to the Southside. One thing you have to remember about the Tidewater Area is that we have so many transients. We’re a really large military area. People are constantly transferring in and out of town. People play, move away, move back and go back to playing. Pretty much everyone here has some contact with the military. Quite a few of our players are military.

(Cecil & Chris) We have divisions by skill. Our Summer Season usually has three divisions and the Winter Season could have five to eight divisions. We’re usually about 40 teams, but how team membership falls determines how we setup the divisions so that they’re even.

(Chris) Basically the way teams get into divisions is the lower division teams just want to play and have fun. They don’t really have much care if they win or lose but they want to have fun doing it. This means that if they play one of the higher teams in their division they’ll probably lose more than win. When you get to the top divisions you have players who, yes, want to have fun but they are pretty serious about their darts so you’ll hear more complaints: that fans blowing, it’s too hot, cold, loud and things like that. So divisions pretty much go by stages. First and Second Division have skill levels about the same. A first division player has more experience at the game. They’ll know their out, know the strategy and won’t get shaken. Second Division has the skill to beat the First Division players but not at a consistent level. It kind of trickles down from there. Once you get down to the middle divisions you get the husband and wife teams. One may be of a higher caliber than the other but they want to shoot together. We have no system as far as individually ranking the players. We only do PPD’s for First Division right now. We go with the skill level of the players in the league. I look at the rosters and decide what division to put them in. If the team wants to move up a division we try to do that. If they want to move down a division I have to take a hard look at that. What did they do last year? It’s a subjective decision. I don’t want them going down and tearing up a division just to win a trophy. I’m a champion or a loser by the decision I make.

Our Executive Board is made up of a Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary/Treasurer, Tournament Director, Assistant Tournament Director, Public Relations Director and ADO (American Darts Organization) Representative.

Cecil says, “The reason that we’re successful is that we’ve changed to be successful. We’ll make a decision and regardless of the arguments we have as a Board behind closed doors, we come out and stand as one and go through with it. I’ve been lucky. I’ve been Chairman for quite a while now and I’ve had pretty good Directors (Tournament) although I have had to relieve Directors in the past. The Executive Board members are elected and when I get a Director who is doing an outstanding job, even if they submit a resignation, I refuse to accept it. They walk away and come back the next day. The Executive Board Officers are elected by staggered elections, two people every year because we can’t lose continuity by having a whole new board elected at once.”

“For our size we put on the best tournament in the country. The way we plan is to have all our checks in place. We have four people doing four different things but we always have a check in place as safeguards.” (Chris Bender) “People are shocked to find out how few people we have in our league (comparatively) to be able to host a tournament of this size and get it done. We still have no major sponsor, we do it all ourselves.”

(Cecil) “We’re associated with the ADO and are one of the original members of the ADO when they chartered back in 1976, I think it was. We are one of the original ten leagues in the ADO. We were started to promote darts and that’s why we stay affiliated with ADO. There are a few smaller dart leagues in the area and we offer them whatever assistance we can but they want to be their own little house.”

“We get our revenue from player dues of eight dollars per player per year and their nightly fees of sixteen dollars per team per league night. There is also a twenty-five dollar sponsorship fee for each team.”

“When we run a tournament or special event, we do it to benefit a charity. We used to work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation until they sent us a packet that was about an inch thick to fill out for us to donate money to them. I made a command decision at that time and decided to go with Special Olympics. We have a league member’s son who is a Special Olympic participant. We’ve found that they are a fantastic organization to work with. We were the Special Olympics Organization of the Year for 2001 and 2006 and are really proud of that.”

(Cecil) “We have League By-Laws and Rules. The league rules came from the ADO. These By-Laws and Rules are posted on our website.”

(Chris) “One of the biggest problems in the league is the issue of postponements. A match gets postponed and the trouble of dates to replay comes in to cause the problem. Our other problem is getting dues paid and scoresheets in on time. At the end it all comes out.”

(Cecil) “We have the right to remove Team Captains when necessary. When we have money payouts we can withhold their prize money. Currently we aren’t using money payouts so we enforce things tighter. If a Team Captain gets behind we give them no score on their weekly results. The team members will see a zero on the standings and contact the Captain to find out why? Another problem we have with Team Captains is that they receive all the information for their team but they don’t pass it on to their team members. Our primary tool for enforcing this rule is to make the team members aware when their Captain is behind in scoresheets/fees. These rules are laid out in detail in our League By-Laws. We’ll let things stretch a little but when taken advantage of they will be enforced to the letter.”

(Chris) “ We play on Tuesday’s and play different formats by division. First Division plays four Singles 501, four Singles Cricket, two Singles 301 (DI/DO), two Doubles Cricket and two Doubles 501. Our middle divisions play four Singles 301, four Singles Cricket, two Doubles Cricket and two Doubles 501. The lower divisions play two Singles 301, two Singles 401, four Singles Cricket, two Doubles 501 and two Doubles Cricket. All Division matches are best of 3. If the lower divisions played the First Division format they wouldn’t have time to finish before closing time.” (Cecil) “We tried that for a few years but had a lot complaints so it was changed.”

(Chris) “The Executive Board does the scheduling. There are one or two people who work on it but if it becomes a problem then the rest of the Board gets involved. The Vice-Chairman pretty much has the final say. There isn’t a magical way of doing it. Once you have a certain team number schedule set up you can use the same format for coming seasons. I’ve looked at the schedule forms online but we change so often that none really fit us. We have dart bars that have two boards and bars that have ten boards so we have to work from there.”

(Cecil &Chris) “The League doesn’t get involved in any of the local establishment LOD’s because that’s where dissension comes from. We can’t be considered as picking favorites or questions will arise about why not here? We leave LOD’S totally up to the bar itself. If we are contacted by a bar about holding a LOD, we will suggest people who are capable or assist them in the beginning setup. It is up to the bar itself to handle it from there.”

(Cecil) “We have a special Youth League. We have two establishments that will allow the youth to play. American Legion Post #327 and the AMF Bowling Center. It got all got started years ago as a way to keep the kids occupied while their parents were shooting. Basically, a baby sitting service. The parents would bring their kids to the tournament and leave them in the room while they were shooting. After numerous complaints about kids running wild we decided to give them somewhere safe to expend their energy. We were fortunate enough to have the Lake Wright Hotel that had lots of room and really liked us. We put up boards for the kids and that’s how it started. Now we have one of the biggest Youth Events of any of the major tournaments. We had 49 youth this year at the Virginia Beach Dart Classic.” (Chris) “We have what we call Youth Clinics, not necessarily a league. They come out on two afternoons per month and get to work with experienced adult league players and then compete amongst themselves in a youth only tournament. Youth darts is how my wife (Linda Bender) and I (Chris Bender) got roped into this dart organization stuff. Somehow she volunteered, or got volunteered, to help the kids in TADA’s early youth days. I don’t even remember how that happened but she ended up being Youth Director for six or seven years until she passed it on to someone else and became the leagues Secretary/Treasurer. Right now in our league we have many players who came from our youth program. Some of our former youth are now nationally ranked including David Thibault and Scott Ingrum. Ryan Mahaffey is a former Youth National Champion, who started with us at approximately the age of eight, who has traveled to England to represent the United States. Now he’s preparing for college. I just attended his graduation party last week.”

(Cecil) “We hold Executive Board meetings as necessary and after each General Membership Meeting and Captains meeting at the start of a season. Our Executive Board meetings have about a 95% attendance rating. Captains meetings are mandatory for the Team Captain or a representative from the team. Two points are deducted from any team without a representative at the meeting unless having a previously approved excuse.”

(Chris) “The Board has nothing to do with the individual players and what team they choose to play on. If a lower division team brings in a higher caliber player or a new player in the area, I let them know that they may be moved into a higher division because of it.”

(Chris) “We use e-mail, phone and direct mailing to keep in contact with our members.”

(Chris) “We plan our next league season at least one season in advance. We never know how many teams we will have in the next session and that determines how long the season will run. We always try to start our new league year in September so we try to adjust the other two seasons accordingly. This helps us to play league darts year round without a major interruption.”

(Chris) “We’ll get a call from a bar telling us that they’ve talked to another bar owner and would like to get involved in darts. How many teams can you give us? I have to tell them that it doesn’t quite work that way. It takes a lot of time to go in and talk to these bars. It’s one of the weak spots we have. I try to do it but they want you to do something for them but aren’t really interested in sitting down to talk about the details. Just give me a set up, give me a team, make me money. It’s something that needs a lot more PR and we don’t have enough of that yet.”

(Cecil) “A lot of our problems come with the tournament. We don’t have a major sponsor. We’ve talked to a lot of potential sponsors. The Commonwealth prohibits any alcohol distributor or manufacturer from sponsoring an event unless they own the facility. Smoking is out so the tobacco companies can’t help. This basically leaves us with dart suppliers or dart manufacturers, but they can only afford so much. We tried to increase the female players payout knowing that we probably wouldn’t cover and they are starting to understand that.” (Chris) “We have a lot more potential for growth on the female side but there are mixed results on that. We have records for the Virginia Beach Dart Classic back to 1989 but are looking for information about who won in the tournaments in the years prior to that. We’d like to hear from anyone who remembers these names.”

(Cecil & Chris) “We are in the Charity Darts Hall of Fame even though there is no brick and mortar hall. We recruit players through our website, bars, local and military newspapers and word of mouth. We get a very limited amount of help from our local media but we’re working on that. The charity events are the best things that we have going for us. Our Public Relations Director, Paula Bushey, is the person who should be contacted by anyone seeking information about the league or tournaments we have. She can be contacted through our website at www.tidewaterdarts.com.”

(Cecil) “A sponsor must have a minimum of two boards to support a team. They have the responsibility to make sure that their setup is accurate and the area kept clear while the teams are playing. Division Coordinators are used to address complaints with the sponsors. We don’t pay them to put a team in their bar, we don’t pay for their equipment, but we do want their support. We can’t dictate to them.”

(Chris) “We hold one awards banquet each year during the summer. The youth have their own thing. We used to be a payout league but the players weren’t getting very much money back and it cost more to keep track of than it was worth. The banquet can get stale after a few years so we put a vote to the general membership to get rid of the payout, make the banquet better, add money to our youth and start a charity fund. It was passed. This past banquet we upgraded the food and spent $1500.00 on door prizes/raffles that ran all night.”

(Chris) “The best thing about our league is our National Tournament. Go anywhere in the country and mention the Tidewater Area Darting Association. Most everyone will recognize the name and comment about the great tournament that we hold here. We have a lot of pride in that. We’ve given over $150,000 to charity over the last 20 years. People enjoy playing in our league because it is well run. We offer more than a dart league, we offer a dart community. As an example of this, there is George Sizemore. George owns “Bit of England Dart and Game Shoppe” in Pembroke Mall. They’ve been open for over 20 years and if you walk in there and say you want to play darts, my phone will be ringing in seconds. The satisfaction of the game rewards us for our hard work. We love the game. Darts is a great family community. I love to travel and meet the other darters.”

For more information about TADA, www.tidewaterdarts.com.

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