Interview with Charlie Sprinkles, Eastside Outreach Rep.

Sprinks 1

Recently Sprinks and I touched base to talk about his new role as one of three Eastside reps, his specific tasks a being part of the “outreach” committee, and what would happen if I gave him a bagillion dollars.

Where is your home base, what do you ride currently, and how did you get involved in bike polo?

Home base is currently in Charlottesville, VA. I play in a little club there that loves to travel. My home away from home is Richmond, one hour away. I make the commute most every Sunday to play. DC is also another popular week night/ weekend destination.

I’m currently riding a Milwaukee bruiser with all the fixings. Squarebuilt bars, polo guard, white ind. freewheel, NoBS front (laced crow’s foot by Daniel Sebring here in Charlottesville), time pedals.

I got started with bike polo riding fixed gear in college. That led to me traveling to Richmond for the Handmade Bike Show and seeing the bike polo tournament being ran alongside the trick jam. I went back to Blacksburg and helped revive Blacksburg’s old bike polo club. I ended up finishing the school year with them and traveled with them to NAs (back when NAs was whoever showed up) and played my first tournament in Madison, WI with them. I don’t think any of them really play anymore, but I always encourage them to get back into it.

When you first got involved in the sport, did you forsee yourself taking a leadership position like becoming a rep?

Jess Stuart picture of Sprinks 2

Photo by Jess Stuart

When I first got involved, I really had no way of knowing where I’d be today. Maybe some inkling of being involved, as I’m just that type of person who wants to get their hands dirty, but no clue as to this extent. Since then I’ve been in 3 different clubs as a regular. I’ve been the head of a club and acted as the liaison to the parks and rec dept to try and rebuild a court they tore down (hey, we were using that!). I’ve thrown my first tournament with the help of that club. I organized a pickup day or two (and got the scars to remember that one by). Hell, I’ve been listed as a sponsor with the etched glasswork i do on the side. Now i’m one of the voices of a region and tossing in new ideas to revitalize the region. It’s kind of wild.

How did you come to that decision (to be a rep)?

I decided to be a rep sometime last fall, when i realized I was the person pushing others to travel, keeping up with forum talk, arranging travel between clubs. It seemed like a natural continuation to be that person networking within our community. It just happened to follow up shortly thereafter that the previous reps were looking to step down.

What is your specific role, and how do you hope to complete those responsibilities? 

My specific role is on the Outreach committee for NAH. This is head by Malakai and has some other familiar faces on the committee as well. Outreach is a very broad term for this group, as we’ve tasked ourselves with some big items. I interpret outreach as anything to grow this sport/NAH. Thus far, I’ve tasked myself with contacting the Eastside Clubs listed on LOBP and making a contact sheet and also setting up some type of protocol to remove these clubs if inactive.

More things planned for the future are making sure that the smaller clubs in my region are welcomed into other events and kept in the loop on things. Not everyone checks LOBP or NAH happenings as regular as some, and maybe the smaller clubs miss out on things happening nearby. We’re going to foster growth in these groups. Maybe arrange a pick up day in their area that we can all visit.

Bigger picture things that have been suggested for the committee including Tour sponsors. This would hopefully lift pressure off of the clubs at the regional level when organizing qualifiers.

What do you think the NAH has done well, what have they failed on for players?

Up until recently, NAH had done a great job of pushing a uniform ruleset and uniting the clubs on the national and International level. The previous ruleset wasn’t perfect, but it worked. I think NAH didn’t quite live up to its standards when it delivered the most recent ruleset at the eleventh hour. Obviously, there’s tweaking to be done for sure, and it appears that is in progress.

How do you plan to strengthen the relationship players have with the NAH? How do you plan to strengthen the NAH as a whole?

Photo by Brandon Carter

Photo by Brandon Carter

To strengthen the relationship with NAH, i think we have to be more open about the happenings within. Closed door policy is not what our group of players need. Players all have opinions. Currently, their most obvious way of voicing that opinion is through the LOBP. There is a time and place for forum chatter, but when it comes down to it, emails to reps need to be sent out and proper channels gone through. Not saying we have to be overly bureaucratic about it all, but complaining on the internet really doesn’t solve much. I encourage all players to be in touch with their reps and be comfortable asking them things.

Let’s say that tomorrow you are given one ba-gillion dollars and supreme power over bike polo as a whole. What would you change immediately?

Heh. All the money out there and supreme power? Each major metropolis gets a pair of fully walled identical courts conveniently located near a high speed rail line (real pipe dream) to connect the cities. Ref squads are reimbursed travel and food stipend. Wrist shots get legalized. Regular pickup weekends happen, bench format tournaments are more regular with The Bench Minor being the all-star game of sorts. Build a polo mecca somewhere nice, something with a pool or lagoon.

Where do you see the NAH being in three years? Stronger/weaker/larger/smaller, etc.?

I think the NAH in the next three years will have a much more defined view on what it is they do. I don’t know if it will grow much larger (maybe splitting of regions or something resulting in more reps). I hope it will become an organization that practically runs their tournaments, with a host club merely helping coordinate with housing and things outside of the tournament. NAH qualified refs and reps running the tournament, the players playing the tournament, and maybe spectators to enjoy the spectacle.  Sponsorships for events will be for the entirety of the NA series (title sponsors could be a big thing). Additional sponsors would be frosting on the cake to make ends meet, if needed.

How do you feel in having Horse and Pierre as co-reps?

I’m really excited to work with Horse and Pierre. We’ve already had a few issues come up and we’ve been able to handle them quite professionally. We voice our opinions and thus far we’ve been mostly in agreement. We all have the common goal in mind to make Eastside and NAH the best it can be.

Anything you’d like to add/discuss?

In closing, I guess I’ll just say legalize wrist shots. Foster the new players. Travel as often as possible. Support those who support you. Play all formats. Know there is a time to play hard, and a time to have fun playing. No other sports-centric community has the camaraderie that bike polo has. Cherish and embrace that.


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One comment

  1. skeete says:

    AMEN to all of this!! Good interview and great answers!

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