Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Jason Reedy, Southern Gentleman

My very first exposure to Jason Reedy was just before Grand Prix Atlanta 2008. I no longer have a record of the very first interaction, but I recall him reaching out to me prior to that event that we were both on staff for. This was somewhat unusual because he was from Virginia and I was from California and the event was in Georgia. Who was this guy asking me for advice and to work with me at the GP?

It turns out that he was from Roanoke, Virginia, home of THE StarCityGames, and our fates would become inextricably linked by that store. He didn't work there yet; he was just a local Magic player interested in judging, and happened to hear great things about me from the two upstanding citizens who did work for SCG, Jared Sylva and Nicholas Sabin, whom I had befriended at separate events in the past year. I was intrigued. Any friend of theirs was a friend of mine, so I fired off an e-mail to GP Atlanta Head Judge Seamus Cambpell asking to be teamed up with Reedy (no one I know has every called him Jason).

There are a few details I remember about our interactions in Atlanta:
* Reedy was an L0, and my instructions as his floor mentor were to stick to him like glue and make sure he had adequate support on rulings. I abandoned this plan after 2 or 3 rounds, telling Seamus that "he doesn't need any help."
* Reedy drove us from the staff hotel to the venue and vice versa. At one point we got seriously turned around and had a Labyrinthian moment where we could see our destination from the highway but couldn't navigate the proper off ramp to get there.
* We also got a ride from the TO, Jeff Williams on one of the trips in his yellow sports car that we nicknamed Bumblebee.
* At one point on the floor, we were competing to see who could get to judge calls first. I bent over to pick up some trash, and the match right next to me called for a judge. I stood up and took the call. From Reedy's perspective a few rows away, he said that I "appeared out of thin air" further cementing my legendary status in his mind.
* We stayed up late in the hotel lobby drinking, playing EDH, and talking the night away. At one point we ran out of booze, and we bought some from a group of players that had a bucket of cheap beer.

Over the next few years, Reedy and I crossed paths several more times until our stars collided. In 2010, I moved to Roanoke to take a job with SCG and help spearhead the fledgling Open Series, which had grown out of a 5K Series. As a local judge, Reedy was a pretty consistent face at those events, until a few months after I came aboard, the realities of running such an expansive tournament series caught up with us and we hired a few more people to join us on the road, including one Jason Reedy.

Riding in a van with Reedy to a random city is a great experience. Look no further than the Driving with Judges podcast for the great stories and songs that can result from this. Rooming with Reedy is also quite the experience. Just make sure that you have powerful earplugs.

The World Championships in San Francisco 2011 will be remembered for a lot of things. It was the last "public" Pro Tour, with a full expanse of Side Events that GPs are just starting to catch up to. It was also Sheldon Menery's last event as an active Head Judge. And players might remember this event as Planeswalker Points farming central. This was the very brief period when you could qualify for the PT via PWPs and the side events at Worlds were offering some ridiculous multiplier (8x?)

But for those us from SCG and the Mid-Atlantic, this was Reedy's show, the event where he passed his Level 3 panel. I can't tell you how impressive of a feat this was. I mean, sure, becoming an L3 is quite impressive in general, but Jason Reedy had previously struggled to pass the L1 exam, taking it three times.

I guess that's why nothing surprises me anymore when it comes to Reedy. A few years ago, he started to ask me questions about Japan, and made a couple of job/judging related forays to the country. So up and moving his family there? Sure. Sounds about right.

And to be missionaries, no less. That's the other thing about Reedy. He loves his family and he is deeply devoted to his religion. We've never really talked about it, and I consider that to be a shame. I myself am not a religious person, but I have a lot of respect for those who are, and who walk their path without feeling like they have to drag me onto it. Still, if it's that important to this great friend, this rock of integrity, I feel like I missed out by not getting to know that part of his life better.

Then again, our story isn't over. It turns out that I make semi-annual trips to Japan. This is just the next evolution of our saga. What's the saying? This isn't "so long"; it's just "until next time."

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