Eager Annual Gathering Online Competitor calls steward at 3:00am

BC Pipers’ Association steward Ken Stratychuk says he received an unusual call early Saturday morning, April 3.

BCPA Steward Ken Stratychuk

His phone rang at 3:00 am, with a UK competitor all ready to play at the BCPA Annual Gathering – eight hours early.

“In fact, it rang three times, then went to text” says Stratychuk, who thought it was a marketing call from overseas.

The time zone mix-up was one of only a few minor glitches in the first ever BCPA 88th Annual Gathering competition, held online for the first time in the Association’s long history.  A contest format that could hardly be conceived a few short years ago drew competitors from Scotland, Ireland, England, Germany, nine US states and six Canadian provinces to compete in all levels.  The entry field was one of the biggest in years

“The technical difficulties are massive, but we are blessed with an exceptional team and many volunteers to do the necessary work to make these events worthy of our Association and our members,” says BCPA Chief Steward Lynn Bullis.

A familiar face to many. BCPA Chief Steward Lynn Bullis on-the-field, with PM Jack Cairney, 2019 Pacific Northwest Highland Games

Along with competitions in all grades, the Annual Gathering also included a unique “live” element for players in the higher grades. Lynn Bullis says the BCPA wanted to make the Annual Gathering as close as possible to a regular competition.

“We wanted to provide a ‘one time through’ opportunity for the Open and Grand 1 competitors. Using Zoom, we had our competitors enter the Zoom meeting one at a time under the direction of a digital steward. It seemed to work well for competitors and steward,” says Lynn.

A competitor from the UK commented that the main reason overseas competitors were so interested in the contest was the “live” performance aspect. Adjudicators for the event included Chris Armstrong, Rob Wallace and Paul Brown.

BCPA President Graham Davidson

Graham Davidson says the Association started online competitions at the November 2020 Indoor contest, with the “live” element introduced at the February Indoor for Grade 1.  The Annual Gathering expanded to “live” for Open and Grade 1.

“I wish we could have done something for pipe bands, however some of the pipe bands did post some very entertaining You Tube videos.”

While stewards did not have to chase down any competitors when it was their time to play, Lynn says those stewards also missed out on the close work and communication with adjudicators and other BCPA officials at a regular competition.

“The most workable solution was to share cell phone numbers between all the digital stewards, the IT team, the Chief Steward and also allow the players to check on progress as they would on the field,” says Lynn.

Looking to the future, Lynn is not optimistic that things will return to normal soon. “I feel we will be dealing with some form of online competitions for some time to come.”

Davidson agrees. “It will definitely be a topic of discussion.”

Results from the 88th BCPA Annual Gathering will be announced on Saturday, April 17 during an online awards ceremony and ceilidh. Entry is free but registration and a Zoom account is required. (Click HERE to register)