To say I've seen it all with SeaCat (Sean Catanese) is not too far off, at least when it comes to his Magic judge career. I didn't personally test him for Level 1, but that was because I only just tested for Level 2 that same day, both under Toby Elliott. We spent a lot of time together over the next two years, plotting and pushing each other to greatness.
While I jet-set around the world and sped my way to L3, SeaCat was the one who kept the home fires burning. He worked diligently to build the grass roots base of judges in the Sacramento area. I knew that he was the one who I wanted to test for L2 first, and in my haste, I screwed things up. I gave him the test before he was ready, twice, and I bore as much responsibility for those failed exams as Sean. Those exams taught me a very valuable lesson about letting knowledge be the driving force behind whether I should test someone, not passion because in the latter, Sean was never lacking. I am grateful that Sean stuck it out with me. I grew up a lot during that period, and third time was the charm. As a tribute to our own double advancement earlier, Sean turned right around and tested Jose Boveda for L1 that day. The three of us podcasted together, turning Judgecast into a household name.
When I needed a driving companion to make the five-hour trip to LA tolerable, Sean was there, and together we helped forge stronger bonds between Northern and Southern California. The state feels a lot smaller these days, but back then, there was almost zero contact between the sides. The best fruits of the North-South outreach, David Zimet. We'll get to him later.
One of the lessons that I have always tried to put to practice has been "train your replacement." When I left California to work for SCG in Virginia, I felt that I had succeeded in that. Sean look on more and more of the leadership in the state, and one year later he advanced to L3 at PT Philadelphia 2011. I wasn't on staff for that event, but as soon as I heard that Sean had passed the written exam (the part that I felt would give him the most trouble; the interview panel would be a cakewalk), I jumped on the next flight to Philly so that I could be there in person to congratulate him. Shortly after that, he was named the Regional Coordinator of the Southeast United States, again no surprise given the work he was doing.
Last year, I joined him among the ranks of RCs, taking the reigns of the Northwest region in anticipation of my move to Portland. I've taken a lot of how I handle being an RC from my talks with Sean. As Darth Vader said, "The student has become the master." Well, the master just ascended again, this time to Level 4 at GP Oakland, a fitting tribute given that he now calls the city of Oaks home. My biggest regret is that I couldn't be there to congratulate him in person again. I was in Baltimore instead, Scorekeeping the SCG Open there. Had I known that he would be promoted, I would have dropped everything and flown out to Oakland, just as I had in Philly. But L4 promotions are kept very tightly kept secrets. And I suppose it is fitting that I wasn't there. Several people asked me if I was proud of Sean's promotion. Of course, I am extremely proud of everything he accomplishes. He's one of my closest friends. But I detect that people are asking me if I am proud like a father is of his son, as if I still lord over Sean, and his accomplishments should somehow validate me. I haven't felt that way in years. He's done so much without me. I am proud to stand by him as his friend. I will be proud to stand at his side when he HJs his first GP. That one I won't miss under any circumstances. Better tell me when for that one.