Teamwork. It’s a hallmark of Destination Imagination (DI) and a guaranteed scoring element in every DI Challenge. Teamwork, however, isn’t just for the DI competitors; it’s also incredibly important for their Team Managers. If you are a Team Manager, you are part of a larger team: the DI community. The DI community is a network of sponsors, Team Managers, parents and volunteers who are willing to help the members of each team succeed (without interfering, of course). Veteran Team Managers most likely make use of the DI community already—simply being in the game for a while allows you to get to know the other dedicated volunteers in your region. For new Team Managers, however, the DI community is an invaluable aid.
Creating a local DI community begins at your school. Talk with your sponsor and other Team Managers (if available) to learn about their goals and expectations. At Team Manager meetings, make friends with the other Team Managers, regardless of Challenge type or level. Throughout the year, keep in touch with these Team Managers, offering and asking for support as necessary. Further, introduce yourself to your Regional Director, as they can answer many of the questions you have concerning DI. They can also direct you to unofficial DI-related support groups, such as the online group, the DINI List, which essentially serves as a Q&A forum (to join, send an email to email@example.com). After establishing your DI community, you may ask: How can I use the DI community to help my team (and other teams) succeed without violating the Rules of the Road?
My co-manager and I have used our community to:
- gain advice about managing teams at different age levels
- find tournament volunteers
- ensure that teams that perform in the early morning have someone to cheer for them in the audience—it’s also fun to have a team to cheer for in each Challenge
- learn about the highlights of the different DI Central Challenges
- coordinate Mini Instant Challenge days (modeled in the same style as Regional Instant Challenge days)
- share useful practice Instant Challenges and Instant Challenge materials
- seek outside, unbiased and informed opinions to help address situations that arise during/because of DI (My co-manager and I are neither parents, nor teachers, and this has been particularly important for us.)
Other Team Managers in our community have utilized our team to seek advice on how to:
- understand DI scoring
- follow tournament procedures
- plan and pack for tournament days
- recognize and prepare for different types of Instant Challenges
- practice improvisational skills
- find and review Published Clarifications online
Aside from providing the above resources, the DI community can also make a major impact in one very important area: fundraising. Many DI regions are not as generous as Maryland’s Southern region (shout-out) and do not help cover the vast majority of the cost of going to Global Finals, which can be very expensive. Creating a DI community will essentially give your team a network to support their fundraisers.
Still not convinced that DI wants you to be part of a bigger community than just your team?
Consider this: DI Tournament Directors initiate community building activities. At our Regional Tournament last year, each team member received a bingo card with different DI Challenges making up the squares. In order to receive a “Bingo,” kids had to watch a team perform in each Challenge. They were also instructed to get teams that impressed them to sign their tournament day memory book. These activities encouraged teams from different schools, levels and Challenges to reach out to each other and celebrate their accomplishments. Similarly, at Globals, DI pairs domestic teams with international “buddy teams” for the duration of the tournament. These teams, including their Team Managers, bond over their love of DI, compare what DI and life are like in their respective hometowns, and support each other during their performances. Having a DI community is essentially like having a bunch of buddy teams to support your team throughout the year.
Every DI season will bring new challenges and obstacles outside of the ones the kids have to solve. Though the task of managing a DI team can seem daunting, know that you are not alone. The DI community is your team. And teamwork matters.
Author’s Bio: Marie Farley is embarking on her 13th year of involvement with Destination Imagination, and her 12th year focusing on the Improv Challenge (she spent one year working with Rising Stars!—pictured above). Along with her co-manager and former DI teammate, Alex Golding, she currently manages a fifth-grade team at T.C. Martin Elementary School in Southern Region, Maryland. When she is not at DI practice or riding ponies, Marie works as a flight attendant for Republic Airlines, a regional carrier flying for American and United Airlines. If you see her on a flight, please talk to her about DI. You will receive extra pretzels.