Before there could be a DISC...there was a " VOMBO", the first-ever booster organization for Destination ImagiNation.

Each year, the international organization publishes a special problem called the Coaches and Officials problem. The 1996 problem, "Vote for Me", was unique in that it was a "team" problem. Previous problems were generally focused at an individual effort.

Bruce and Dee Urban have been active in just about every role possible in CPS save one. They had never been part of a team. Bruce was, in a word, ecstatic. Here, at last, was an opportunity be in a CPS team and to brainstorm and do all of those things that, as an adult, he could only watch from the side lines.

The Urbans, in New York, contacted Kris and Steve Shearer in California. All of them are active in the listserver but had not met in person. Together, they posed the question, "Was it possible to put together a team of coaches and officials to solve the problem using the Internet as the only way of meeting until getting together at World Finals?"

A Team Forms

Team selection was, as with normal teams, the first problem. This team was not, however, a normal team by any stretch of the imagination. First of all, the team was going to world but who would be going to world? Officials are not notified that they have been selected until early April. Most Association Directors go but, they are very busy during World Finals week. In fact, the Affiliate Directors were scheduled for a dinner meeting the same night as the Coaches and Official's competition. Both an organization and a candidate were needed.

Team selection was by nomination by existing team members. In short order, the team grew to, and past, the problem specified size of "about 15." Bowing to the influence of the Web, Doug DeFrees was nominated to be the candidate, Web Master. Note the spelling, it is a proper name.

Silliness Reigns

As you are undoubtedly aware, if you are involved with a CPS organization, spring is the busiest time of the year. Regional competitions begin in February and lead into Affiliate, or state, competitions. For many, there are no weekends that do not have a CPS activity written on the calendar well into April. When the pressure comes off after the competitions in a state have concluded there is general feeling of relief and, maybe, a little silliness breaks out. In 1996, it was an exchange on the listserver that is now known as the The "Great Grape Debate". The debate lead to the selection of several people to what became VOMBO and was the first time that some of the team member started to work together electronically.

Brainstorming on the Net

So, you thing that brainstorming with a bunch of adolescents with their brains hot wired with juice and cookies is a trip? Try adults on a problem without a cost limit!

"OK, we do a video and project it on the big screen in the auditorium!"

"Can we blow up a pink flamingo?"

As it was, here are a few of the things that got started:

VOMBO in Iowa

The weeks flew by. Many of the VOMBOsians, as they prefer to be called, converged on a quiet Midwestern college town. Now, Ames had hosted World Finals on two previous occasions. This was, of course, in the BV, or before VOMBO, era. Neither Ames, nor the VOMBOsians knew exactly what an impact they were going to have.

Ohio's Roger Walker was one of the first VOMBOsians that the officials would meet. Roger manned the Official's registration table at the Holiday Inn. Was he wearing an Official's T-Shirt? No! He was wearing the natty tie dyed official VOMBO Charter Member T-shirt. A man of true colors.

Dee and Bruce found Lynn Macey wandering Ameslessly at O'Hare airport and tossed him in a van for the trip to Iowa. These three had never met, well, officially anyway. There was an occasion the previous time that World Finals was in Ames but, Dee doesn't recall the chance meeting in a handicapped parking spot. Lynn required very little encouragement to get in the van with strangers...imported California grapes.

Get me a Keyboard...We need to talk!

By Wednesday, all of the VOMBOsians had arrived in Iowa and the group got together for their first non-electronic gathering. During the day, it was apparent that VOMBO had arrived. There were buttons and pins everywhere. The large "membership" sign was hanging from the balcony in the hotel. Issuing a VOMBO salute would get a positive response. The Affiliate Directors were deftly trained in the VOMBO salute by Karen Anderson at one of their meetings. Other directors were introduced to VOMBO by Cy Richard.

The group, who had been most lively behind their keyboards, was awkward and tentative. The first night was notable because everyone was careful not to say anything that would offend the others present. What did they have? They had cool props. They had dynamite costumes. They had a script that took 20 minutes for the first read through. A two minute performance this a problem?

A Dress Rehearsal with a REAL Dress

Thursday's big VOMBO event was the dress rehearsal. For some, the concept of "dress" was more personal than others. As soon as the long term solution was released as a parody of an CPS presentation of a parody of the Wizard of Oz, the character of Dorothy was granted, bestowed or was foisted on Bruce. It's gotta be 'da shoes! We also met CPUless, the scarecrow, ___ the lion [note: The lion never got a name] and all but Al, the aluminum man since his costume was a one shot. Steve Shearer normally wears his hair in a single braid. Even those who know him failed to immediately recognize him. Most of the rehearsal was accompanied with hysterical laughter but, the cast got down to business and pulled the run through to about 8 minutes.

By now it was late and a conscientious cast would head for bed to rest for the big opening, or closing if you prefer, day. Not this cast, no way! It was time to introduce Dorothy, VOMBO queen, to the assembled officials at the nightly party. It is not possible to convey the reaction here. Dorothy with CPUless on arm carrying a basket full of VOMBO buttons strolled into the adoring masses. Well, adoring after they caught their breath again. This was an educational opportunity. The VOMBO salute was taught again. Check out the pictures.

After CPUless and Dorothy had made their grand tour, Bruce decided that be more comfortable without the wig and in clothes that left him less likely to get his butt pinched. Once was enough. Bruce, with Lynn as trusty companion to help carry the gear, went to his room to change. A problem arose. Dorothy carries a basket but no purse. The dress has no pockets. Bruce has no key. No problem, the front desk has keys.

Bruce, perhaps forgetting that a guy in drag and ugly shoes may not be the norm in Ames says, "I'm Bruce Urban. I'm in room 111. I need the key to my room."

The desk clerk, with a totally straight face, says, "Can I have some identification, please?"

"Where would I put ID? If I had my ID I'd have my key too!"

"It's for your own protection....sir."

Lynn is, by this time, finding a great deal of humor at Bruce's expense and unable to continue to not be an embarrassment, leaves the scene to find Dee. She is upstairs, at the party reveling in the afterglow from the grand entrance.

"Dee, we have to talk. <chuckle, laugh...laugh> Bruce is locked out of your room. <laugh!> Do you have a key?"

Dee, of course does not have a key either. Fortunately, Bruce found his buried in a box of props and was able to save himself before Dee could retrieve a key from the front desk...without ID, by the way.

The Performance is about to begin

Friday, the big day. Evidence of VOMBO was everywhere. There were pins, buttons, handbills and flyers galore. By evening, when the competition was held, the campaign was drawing to a close. Many things came together in the last few minutes. VOMBO salute signs made by Cheryl Tuba's art class were delivered by a friend. The tornado was completed. Since the crepe paper that was to cover it was left in the hotel room, duct tape was appropriately substituted. Some individuals almost became unwilling participants in the performance until they managed to free themselves. The use of a boom box to play Lauren Urban's VOMBO fanfare was rented with a handful of VOMBO pins. The cast was....wait a minute! Part of the cast is missing! The Association Director's dinner was held the same evening as the Coaches and Officials competition. Since we had several people who were involved in both events, we requested to have the last competition spot. We assumed that this would put our performance late enough to allow these people to eat dinner and hot foot it to the Hilton Coliseum. This, and several other assumptions, proved to be faulty.

Thirteen teams competed. Team VOMBO was the twelfth team to compete. Most everyone had arrived with the notable exception of Cy Richard. Rather than being a French impressionist, Cy was impersonating an Association Director. At this point, Mark Sackett, a Minnesota structure coach, stepped in and prepped for the part. By performance time, he even had a costume!

Dan Semenza, the International Structure Problem Captain, was the master of ceremonies. His introduction of Team VOMBO included the observation that the team had already accumulated about 55,000 points of outside assistance penalties. A note is appropriate here. Outside assistance is a big no-no in the CPS world as our gentle readers are surely aware. When the judges give a 25 point outside assistance penalty, it is pretty big. A penalty of two hundred points will wipe a team from the face of all competition.

Two Minutes! You were serious about the two minutes?!?

The performance was...well...let's just say that it is good thing that VOMBOsians don't have to act to eat. Things went pretty much as expected up until the "Duct Tape Tornado" made its appearance. Since none of the cast had seen the props, they were enthralled by them as much as the audience. When the house came flying in on the wire and the smoke rings rolled past the stage, Dee Urban was stunned into silence. Unfortunately, it was her line as Lynn Macey politely pointed out. Now, Dee claims personal injury at this part of the performance. There were no penalty points assessed for unsportsmanlike conduct and the video tape clearly shows that Dee was reacting to the house, the tornado and to her husband in a dress and not from being pummeled with a script.

The performance continued much better than it was ever rehearsed. Everyone knew their lines or, in the case of Roger Walker, made them up. His made up line was that he did have any lines which really wasn't true. He had lines but just farther along in the script. On reflection, it is a good thing that he spoke up. Having two lions did get awkward but, hey! this is VOMBO!

At scene 3, when Web makes his appearance, Dan Semenza calls, TIME! All the available cast rushed to spray him with the Silly String so that time would stop. They must have gotten the wrong cans because nothing happened.

Award Ceremony

So, after the most well attended Coaches and Official's competition ever held, how did our intrepid band do? Well, 2nd place. They have trophies to prove it.



Copyright 2003-2004 Lynette Crain - / Lynn Macey -