As you know, Fordney Foundation is part of the 2016 Series Events taking place all year long in different states. We want to introduce you to a person who is very vital in this process and the Fordney Foundation is very fortunate to be able to work with her going forward. We just completed an Interview with Amanda Ashcraft, and you will find what she does is not only important but interesting as well.
Welcome Amanda to the Fordney Foundation family, we’re so very pleased to have our own “Leaderboard” person! We are grateful that you have taken some time from your very busy schedule to share with our readers and dancers, exactly who Amanda Ashcraft is and what you do! Obviously, what you do is quite unique and a very important part in the competition/dance circuit. I think the Fordney Foundation’s Junior and Youth dancers could learn some valuable information from you when entering competitions that will help them greatly in their endeavors.
Freddie Brock: First, I like to ask people where they are originally from? Where do you live now?
Amanda Ashcraft: I’m originally from Wisconsin. I now live in Brooklyn, NY and have lived there for 10 years.
FB: What did you study in school/college? Was it a far cry from what you do now?
AA: I went to school at the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire and I majored in Management Information Systems and minored in Accounting. It is definitely a far cry from what I do now, but it gave me a great knowledge of computers which is helpful in the many jobs I do now.
FB: I noticed your card says Certified Scrutineer, Registrar/Competition Organization. Can you explain to all of us, exactly what that means?
AA: These are just a few of the number of jobs that I do at Ballroom Dance Competitions.
A scrutineer is the official at the competition that takes the judges sheets and tabulates the couples that get called back to the next round and the placements in the finals. I became certified by passing the test administered by the NDCA.
The registrar is the official at the competition that handles all of the on-site registration changes as well as printing the sheets for the judges and other various tasks needed in the registration area.
I also have worked on the general organizing of competitions in all different capacities and levels.
FB: What led you to become interested in this kind of work? How to work the board? What training is involved? How long have you been doing this kind of work?
I love dancing and have found that I am good at organizing and working on events, so that led me to making a career out of working in the ballroom industry through various competitions and events.
I became interested in helping out with the Fordney Foundation DanceSport Series board after speaking with Sam Sodano and him expressing the need for someone to help track the points for the junior and youth ages. I also work with those age groups at a number of competitions and at a studio that I work with, so I was interested in making sure their points were tracked correctly to award the couples properly.
There wasn’t a lot of training involved because I already knew how to use the program, CompMgr, which all the competitions are scored in, so it was just a matter of learning the best way to get the data out of the program and format it to be loaded into the database that displays it on the website.
I’ve been working in the ballroom industry for over 8 years. I’ve been working on the Fordney Foundation DanceSport Series for about 6 months.
FB: The Fordney Foundation is very interested in your answer to a couple of questions in particular, and what is the right answer or solution. Dance couples should always register at each competition with the same legal names and no nick names are allowed. Is it preferable to use your passport name, if you have a passport?
AA: Couples should always register with the same name and spelling at each competition to ensure that their points are properly recorded. It doesn’t necessarily need to be their passport name, but the name they prefer to have announced during the competition. They should also double-check their heat lists to ensure that their name has been entered correctly and if it hasn’t, they should request the registrar to update it. Also, after each competition or periodically, couples should check the leaderboard to ensure that all of their points have been recorded.
FB: Should each competitor check to make sure the organizer of the dance competition has listed him or her in the program with the correct spelling of their first and last names?
AA: Yes, each competitor should double-check the spelling of their name either in the program or heat list. Most competitors enter via hand-written paper forms and sometime handwriting can be misinterpreted and misspellings can easily happen.
FB: Participants in competitions might complete a discrepancy form from the website if they need to get something corrected. Do these messages go directly to you and you make corrections and/or send a message to the couple to inform them of whether the points in question are eligible for our dance series?
AA: Yes, if couples find something they feel should be corrected, they should fill out a discrepancy form here: http://www.dancesportseries.com/report-discrepancy-scoring.php This is the only way discrepancies should be filed, they should not directly email anyone else. The messages go to the DanceSport series team and discrepancies specific to the Fordney Foundation are directed to me. I then review the discrepancy and make the necessary corrections if they are eligible. I will also then respond to the couple and let them know if the discrepancy was fixed or let them know why the points are not eligible.
FB: Amanda, should a dance couple file a discrepancy form to inform you of age changes during the year that will make them eligible for a different level of competition during the competitive year?
AA: If they want to alert us to an age category change, they can simply fill out the “Contact Us” form instead of the “Discrepancy” form. The “Contact Us” form is found here: http://www.dancesportseries.com/contact-us.php
FB: Are there any other suggestions or types of problems that frequently occur that you can address that would be helpful for our couples to look for when entering competitions?
AA: Exact/correct spelling of the couples’ name(s) is the number one issue. Also, making sure to enter the proper category can cause confusion. Most organizers are starting to specify on their entry forms which categories at their competitions are Fordney Foundation points earning categories and we are working with them to make sure it gets added to all the competitions. The main key events to look for are the 5-dance Open events in Ballroom and Latin.
FB: Do you work all year long?
AA: Yes, we have competitions all year long, so I work all year.
FB: What advice would you give to someone interested in working at dance competitions either as a Scrutineer or at some other job?
AA: The best way to start to get involved is to find someone that does a job that you’re interested in and ask if you can help them out at a competition or shadow them to see if the job is something you would really like to do and to learn how to do it properly.
FB: Do you have any time for hobbies? If so, what are they?
AA: Outside of all of my competitions, events and other ballroom projects, there isn’t a lot of time, but when I do have free time, I enjoy spending time with my friends, especially when I get to go back to Wisconsin to visit my best friend and help out in her middle school art class.
FB: Is there anything that you would like to say to our dancers that they would find helpful or interesting from your perspective?
AA: I think that the dancers need to make sure to read all the rules of the series at the beginning of each “year” to make sure they are clear and understand all the rules and restrictions. They can be found in section 8 here: http://www.dancesportseries.com/rules.php
AA: Also, they should double check that at each competition they attend, that the events they are registering and expecting to get points in are in fact Fordney Foundation events.
AA: One last note, if they have any questions at all about the series, they should email us and we’d be happy to help them!
Thank you so much Amanda for that insightful interview. For those of you who are serious about competing in Pro/AM events, and/or may be new to it, this information is helpful in making your competition experience a little bit easier to go through. There may be some information here, you were not aware of before.
We are happy to have Amanda Ashcraft, “the leader of the board” as part of the Fordney Foundation. We encourage you to reach out to her or us with any additional questions you may have in the future.
Thought Of The Week:
“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.” – Maya Angelou