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SiVY: A Story of Youth Bridge Success - Part 1
(Page of 4)

Bridge players often thank me for my work with youth bridge, and while I'm grateful, it feels wrong that I get so much credit, while others who have done at least as much get little or no recognition. Please help me change that this Thanksgiving. Many folks have made vast contributions to SiVY (Silicon Valley Youth Bridge). While I probably won't succeed at mentioning them all, I'd like to try.

In Part 2, I plan to discuss how SiVY got started, give an overview of each of the programs that SiVY offers, provide some data, and share my personal thoughts on the highs and lows. Not everything has been a success, and I will try to offer some of the advice that people have sought in considering starting their own youth programs.

First and foremost, however, allow me to feature a few of the fantastic folks who have done as much or more for SiVY as I have. Most of them are currently doing more.

Please thank these people when you see them! I expect that they will all be at the San Francisco NABC.

WILL WATSON

Tournament Director

Meet Will Watson, TD extraordinaire. Will is one of the most selfless people I’ve ever met, and the bridge world is incredibly lucky that bridge is the passion to which he devotes his time and ample skills.

Will has volunteered at virtually every SiVY event where a tournament director is needed! He also pre-duped many, many boards. If I suggest to Will that we plan a special event, in addition to the regularly scheduled pizza parties and Casual Fridays (e.g. a parent-child game, or training session for the local juniors competing in the upcoming trials), his answer is invariably, “I would like to do that."

An expert player, Will plays some professionally and could surely make his living doing that exclusively. Yet he is loyal and dedicated to the local bridge community, making time to run games regularly, as well as to train and assist other directors. When away at tournament, he works feverishly to prepare in advance, then spends much of his non-playing time working by phone.

If he happens to have a free day, Will can be found partnering a SiVY junior in a local sectional. He is a fabulous mentor. While directing, on occasion I’ve seen Will lose patience with an adult player (for good reason!), yet I’ve never seen it with a junior. Will Watson is my hero.

 

CHERYL MANDALA

Events Registrar, High School Coach, and more

Cheryl Mandala joined SiVY toward the end of 2013, volunteering to use her exceptional organizational skills to maintain a database and manage the process of inviting kids to pizza parties and other events. Many hours are spent behind the scenes helping these events run smoothly.

Six years later, Cheryl still does all that, and so much more. She works not only behind the scenes, but in person at the events. Youth players and their parents are greeted by Cheryl’s warm and friendly welcome. She prints personalized nametags for each guest, and makes sure their information is up to date. She diligently records emergency contact info, and ensures that parents feel their children are in a welcoming and safe environment.

In addition, Cheryl coaches the Monta Vista HS Bridge Club, and has done so since she and Kevin founded the club back in 2014! Kevin graduated, and now all the players from that original club have done so, yet Cheryl keeps it going with new players each year. The club is now in its 6th year, and in my experience most volunteers would have needed a break, yet Cheryl keeps going strong.

On top of the weekly meetings, Cheryl has held practice sessions at her home. She has also mentored individually in tournaments: both players from her high school club and other serious students of the game.

SiVY Board of Directors October 2017

Left to Right: Stephanie Youngquist, Randy Ryals, Debbie Rosenberg, Alan Templeton, Cheryl Haines, Michael Bodell, Margot Livenspargar, and Sue Griswold. Not in this photo: Mukund Thapa and Frank Smoot.

RANDY RYALS President

Randy joined the SiVY BoD in 2013, when a secretary was badly needed. He continued as secretary until June 2017, when he became President!

While competently filling the necessary role of secretary, Randy was also a head teacher in one of SiVY's first after-school programs, volunteered at pizza parties, and then took on the daunting role of Summer Camp Coordinator in 2014. He has continued with summer camp every year, taught in many, many after -school programs, runs Casual Fridays most weeks, and has been at almost every pizza party. Even before he was President, Randy was involved with every aspect of making SiVY a success. It is truly dazzling how much Randy does for youth bridge, while still finding time to play this game we all love at tournaments.

Never seeming to tire, it is fitting that Randy's standard greeting is “Good morning”, always with a smile, whatever time of day you meet. When you run into him one evening at nationals, why not greet him with "Good Morning and Good Job!"

 

SUE GRISWOLD Vice President

Sue is a founding board member who took on the role of event coordinator from the beginning, and incredibly hasn't quit. Organizing a pizza party for kids every month for over 6 years? I'm exhausted typing that.

As Vice President, Sue has done just about anything and everything for SiVY. On top of that, she has been a head teacher in an after-school program most years. Along the way, she found the time to become a Life Master herself, having played bridge socially in high school and college, then returning to the game after a long hiatus for her career. After her return to bridge, and before SiVY, Sue served a treasurer and president of Unit 503. Thank you, Sue; no way we could have done this without you!

 

CHERYL HAINES Marketing Director

What does Cheryl do? A better question might be, "What doesn't she do?" While she signed on as Marketing Director in 2013, so as to make use of her professional skills, Cheryl has started and maintained many SiVY programs. She has taught in schools, organized summer camp, ordered our T-shirts, ensured that our volunteers are recognized each year, published a newsletter three times a year, raised funds, and helped at pizza parties. In my mind, Cheryl is the glue that keeps SiVY together.

Cheryl is the embodiment of the phrase "if you want something done, ask a busy person." As if all she does for SiVY weren't enough, Cheryl volunteered to chair the I/N program for the upcoming San Francisco NABC. In the midst of preparing for that, she managed to publish the latest SiVY newsletter just last week. Cheryl is amazing, and should be easy to find in the I/N area at the SF nationals, when she is not playing.

 

ALAN TEMPLETON Webmaster

Alan is a SiVY founder, and I doubt we would have ever gotten a youth bridge program off the ground without him. His enthusiastic support for the idea, combined with his knowledge and skills, was key to my believing that what we wanted to accomplish was possible. Alan has served as a volunteer in multiple capacities for many years both for Unit 503 and SiVY.

In addition to being an awesome webmaster, Alan has regularly been a pizza party volunteer, photographer, mentor, and summer camp helper. He has also been a classroom helper, contract negotiator, and more. You name it, you need it done, and Alan is there.

 

MUKUND THAPA Treasurer

Mukund and I had a meeting in the winter of 2013, to discuss our shared love of the game of bridge, the wonderful experience of having a bridge-playing teenager who also loved the game, and to brainstorm over how we could bring this joy to other families. This got it all started. We shared a vision, and were both ready to work to make it a reality.

From the beginning, Mukund agreed to use his skills to act as treasurer (a thankless job nobody else was willing to do), and has carried on in that role until this day, despite a busy work/travel schedule. When in town, Mukund helps at pizza parties and other special events, often contributing his excellent photography skills.

 

MICHAEL BODELL Secretary

Michael Bodell joined the SiVY board in 2013, adding a younger voice to the program, and always a voice of reason. His original title was project manager, and in 2017, he took on the thankless job of Board Secretary, a role he continues to perform reliably. Michael is a regular Bridge Winners contributor, and it will not be surprising to readers that he is our data guy. Part 2 will include some of the stats he has compiled. Michael has also contributed to SiVY in many other ways, including school operations committee, head teacher, event helper, high school championship committee, and managing the YNABC sponsorship program. He is an active tournament player, regularly competing in NABC+ events, so he shouldn't be difficult to thank in person for all he does!

 

STEPHANIE YOUNGQUIST

Stephanie joined the SiVY BoD in 2016, and injected much needed new energy! She is a hard-working and accomplished volunteer, and has become our go-to person for all that needs doing. From helping at pizza parties, acting as partnership desk for special events, running SiVY's volunteer reception, coordinating the Bay Area high school championship, managing YNABC, and so much more, Stephanie does it all, and does it well. Not only that, she is co-chairing the I/N program at the SF NABC, so please find her there to say thank you.

 

MARGOT LIVENSPARGAR

Margot is a SiVY Founding Volunteer, and has been a consistent, dedicated force. She has been a head classroom teacher every year since SiVY started. This is no small accomplishment - most volunteers have felt that one year in that role is their limit. Margot is also a regular pizza party table helper, often taking on the difficult task of introducing bridge from scratch to a table of beginners. In addition, Margot has helped frequently at summer camp, and has served in various organizational capacities. She joined the BoD in 2016.

 

FRANK SMOOT

Frank is a founding SiVY volunteer, having emceed the very first pizza party in May of 2013. His superb teaching skills, sense of humor, and personality have been a boon to the program. A much loved bridge teacher for adults as well, Frank has taught at SiVY summer camp, mentored as well as emceed at many pizza parties, organized YNABC training, and more. He joined the SiVY BoD in June of 2017.

Youth Volunteers:

Our original vision for the program included having kids we taught in middle school return as volunteers after they graduated. I envisioned high school students biking back to their middle school at the end of the day, volunteering as a classroom helper or possibly even co-teacher. This was a hypothetical solution to volunteer burnout. Smile

While that vision proved unrealistic, there are a number of "SiVY kids" who have indeed gone on to volunteer, spreading their love of the game to other young people. I'd like to mention a few of them, with apologies to anyone I leave out.

 

SiVY Founding Youth Volunteers:

Isha Thapa and Kevin Rosenberg, respectively the inspiration for Mukund and me to get all of this started, were both enthusiastic participants, playing key roles the program's success.

Isha Thapa

Isha coaches a group of beginners at the first ever SiVY Summer Camp in 2014

When SiVY got underway, Isha was finishing high school in Palo Alto and heading off to UC Berkeley. Yet somehow she managed to be around for many of the early SiVY events. Over the years she has helped at pizza parties, coached at summer camp, and mentored younger players. Having her as a teacher and role model was a major asset to the program. Parent-child bridge couldn't get a better advertisement than watching how much Isha and Mukund enjoy playing as partners.

At UC Berkeley, Isha introduced hundreds of students to bridge through a program called Democratic Education at Cal. She taught the bridge DeCal almost every semester that she was there, as well as being president of the Cal bridge club. As mentioned, when back home, she frequently helped out at SiVY events, also managing to bring a few college students from time to time. More than once, Isha captained a Cal collegiate team to great success, all while diligently working toward competing internationally through the USBF junior training program.

 

Kevin Rosenberg

Kevin coaching Michael Hu at 2014 SiVY Bridge Camp

When SiVY got underway in 2013, Kevin was finishing up his sophomore year of high school, and had recently become an avid tournament bridge player. He was a huge fan of bringing more kids into the game, and played a major role as a volunteer in the first few years, including attending virtually every pizza party or other special event, coaching at summer camp, and starting a club at his high school senior year. He then coached a team from that club to victory in the first Bay Area High School Championship. There were cash prizes, and Kevin was eligible to participate as a player, but he felt it would be better for the program if he did not, and allowed the other schools to compete on a more level playing field.

From my point of view, having Kevin as a co-founder, co-planner, and a sounding board was invaluable. When he went away for college, I greatly missed having him with me for SiVY events and planning. He continued to contribute to the program as a volunteer, frequently playing online with SiVY kids, and live in local games when home. At UC Berkeley, Kevin took over teaching the bridge DeCal when Isha left, and also introduced the game to hundreds of students that way.

 

"SiVY Kids" who became volunteers

Sarah Youngquist

Sarah coaching at a pizza party lesson in 2019

Sarah learned bridge in her freshman year of high school, a couple of years after SiVY came into existence. Her grandparents had wanted to teach her for a while, but she wasn't really interested until she discovered friends her age were playing.

It was quickly apparent that Sarah had great talent and passion for the game. She has become a star, and a sought-after partner for local experts. Sarah represented the US for the first time at the U21 World Youth Team Championship in 2018. A year later, while still eligible for U21, she was on the gold-medal-winning U26 team in Croatia, at the 2019 World Transnational Youth Teams.

Sarah has also become an active SiVY volunteer.  She has been a head teacher at SiVY summer camp for two summers, and recently initiated optional lessons before pizza parties. Along with her mom, she co-chaired the 2019 HS Championship (after winning it three consecutive years for Palo Alto HS), and volunteers in multiple capacities, including mentoring campers who are interested in getting more serious about the game.

 

Michael Hu and Arthur Zhou

YNABC Pairs 1st Place 2019, Michael left/ Arthur right

 

Michael Hu 

At age 10, having recently completed a beginner bridge class with his parents, Michael attended the very first SiVY Pizza Party in May of 2013. He also attended the first Parent-Child Duplicate and first Summer Camp. To top off the firsts, Michael was the first SiVY kid to become an ACBL Life Master (we don't count Isha and Kevin, who were LMs before SiVY started), which he achieved in 2018, at age 15.

Michael has had a long list of achievements as a player, with successes in local tournaments, plus wins in YNABC Swiss (2017) and YNABC Pairs (2019). I still remember my excitement when he and Arthur Zhou scored 70% at a local sectional Open Pairs almost three years ago. Michael and Arthur were on the winning Flight C GNT team in 2017, having been added after the District phase by the 4-handed team that won D21. Most of Michael's successes have been in partnership with Arthur, so see below for more!

Michael is an active SiVY volunteer. In addition to having helped at more than one camp, he and Arthur have been co-teaching a bridge class for an organization called Silicon Valley Youth (unconnected to SiVY!) Michael has also taught friends less formally, and he and Arthur are in the process of starting a bridge club at Lynbrook HS, where Michael is now a junior.

I know Michael would want this blurb to include a mention of his mom, Qing Lu, who has volunteered for SiVY in many capacities. She is perhaps best known for the delicious snacks she provides daily at summer camp each year. Yet, I think of her above all as a master recruiter, and I want to mention this to illustrate how much one person can do to Keep Bridge Alive. On a tour bus with ten families from the same soccer team, Qing enticed eight of them to sign their kids up for summer camp. Arthur Zhou's family was on that bus, and that was the beginning of the story below.

 

Arthur Zhou

I love talking about Arthur. In 2014, at that first SiVY summer camp, Arthur was part of the group of rank beginners which Elianna Meyerson and I co-taught. His talent and interest stood out immediately, and being a first-hand witness to his growth since then has been a blast. Arthur's dad had played some bridge in college in China, but had not played at all in the US before Arthur learned. After that, they became a regular partnership, playing first in SiVY Parent-Child games, and then tournaments. Since Arthur formed his partnership with Michael, his dad doesn't play as much, yet I still feel that SiVY brought him back to the game, and into the ACBL for the first time. Seeing both father and son enjoying the game has been most rewarding.

After Arthur had been playing about a year, Kevin and I suggested that he and Michael form a partnership. They have been enormously successful. In addition to successes mentioned under Michael's name above, they have represented the US twice in the U16 competition at World Championships, and brought home the bronze medal in 2018. This past summer at the NABC, Arthur needed special permission to enter the 3-day LM Pairs, because he had just gone over the point requirements, and they hadn't all been recorded yet. Michael and Arthur proved they belonged by qualifying for Day 3 and scoring above average that day. Later in the week they placed in the overalls of the Wernher Pairs as well, before their victory in the YNABC pairs.

Arthur has volunteered at summer camp, and last semester, when Michael wasn't available to co-teach their class at Silicon Valley Youth (the organization unconnected to SiVY), Arthur did it alone!

 

Jonathan Yue

Jonathan joined SiVY early in 2016, having recently moved to the US from China where he had been playing bridge for about four years already. Though his parents don't play at all, they are tremendously supportive, which allows Jonathan to be an active participant in both local events and major tournaments. Jonathan was a member of the U16 team that won the bronze medal at the World Youth Team Championships in 2018, and in 2019 he was on the team which placed 2nd nationally in Flight C GNT.

By coincidence, Jonathan, who was in 7th grade at the time he moved to the US, landed at Bret Harte, a middle school in San Jose which already had an after-school bridge club. Jonathan became heavily involved in keeping that bridge club going for the remainder of his time in middle school, trying to get the kids to actually learn some bridge beyond throwing cards! He then founded a new bridge club when he got to Leland HS, and works hard to make it a great one. Check out the photo below.

Leland HS Bridge Club Fall 2019

 

The following SiVY kids have served as table helpers at one or more Bridge Summer Camp(s)

Note: Some have done much more volunteering and/or had great success at the tournament level.  Apologies for the lack of specifics.

  • Aman Desai
  • Claire Bellew
  • Cornelius Duffie
  • David Zheng
  • Kai Eckert
  • Kevin Huang
  • Lucy Huang
  • Michael Xu
  • Michael Zheng
  • Rory Xiao
  • Stella Wan
  • Victoria Stukalova
  • William Park

Finally, a shout out to SiVY Kids Matthew Shi and Brent Xiao, who this semester have been co-teaching a bridge class of about 15 students at Carnegie Mellon University, where Matthew is a junior and Brent is a sophomore.

So many more volunteers

SiVY has been blessed with numerous volunteers, in many capacities, mostly big or bigger! There are the brave souls who have managed major programs, such as Summer Camp, YNABC, HS Championship, School Outreach, Mentoring, and Program Operations. An enormous role which some have taken on is Head Teacher in a school. There are classroom helpers, mentors, summer camp volunteers, pizza party volunteers, and HS Championship helpers. We've had professionals volunteer their services in the areas of graphic art and design, fundraising, reporting, Spanish translation, and catering! Many on the below list have filled multiple roles.

These volunteers have done a huge amount for youth bridge and deserve more than a mere mention of their name on a list. You'll surely see some of their names again in Part 2 of this article, in the context of program details.

For now, since I really would like to thank all involved, below is a long list of *most* everyone else who has volunteered for SiVY. My sincere apologies for any errors or omissions.

In addition to the list below, which includes several parents of kids in the program, I want to thank all of the parents who have graciously helped out without ever being designated "official" volunteers.

 

Adam Kaplan

Adele Kellman

Agnes Lee

Anam Tebha

Anant Rathi

Ankur Rathi

Antony Lee

Arif Janjua

Barbara Shukov

Barbara Hariton

Beatrice Carrot

Becca Wernis

Betty DePaola

Bill Bailey

Bo Xiao

Bob Horowitz

C. J. Jameson

Carol Schwerer

Carolyn Chaney

Cathy Lipe

Charlie Conrad

Chris Bunz

Chris Chung

Claire Coleman

Corinne Carter

Dale Johannesen

Dan Thatte

Dave Bernstein

David Puryear

David Aston

David Platshon

Debbie Lundahl

Donna Raynor

Doug Hong

Doug Burke

Doug Schmickwrath

Ed Zuckerberg

Ed Barlow

Edmund Wu

Elianna Meyerson

Elinor Tanck (deceased)

Elisabeth Aulworm

Ellie Bernhardt

Emily Kelly

Eugene Hung

Euo Menezes

Floyd McWilliams

Franklin Gonzalez

Fred Schwerer

Fred Chasalow

Gary Lipe

Gary MacGregor

Gary Porter

Geeske Joel

Gigi Spinazze

Ginny Strock

Heather MacGregor

Hedi Fejerne

Helen Chang

Howard Liu

Ivy Chueh

Jana Cushman

Janelle Van Rensselaer

Janice Nakao

Jayne Lipe

Jeanie Kwong

Jeffrey Pugh

Jennifer Sheppard

Jim O'Neil

JoAnna Stansby

Joanne Wicker

Joanne Robertson

Jody Williams

John Hoffman

Joni Smith

Josephine Ventura

Judy Fisher

Jun Shi

Karen Rice

Kathie Shaw

Kathy Harper

Kathy Jasper

Kathy Papermaster

Kathy Puryear

Ken Rosenfeld

Kent Taylor

Kevin Schoenfeld

Laurie Walters

Leah Khayter

Leila Sink

Li-Chung Chen

Linda Nemmer

Linzhi Hu

Lori Spaeth

Lynn Bartz

Lynn Giusti

Lynn Johannesen

Lynn Shannon

Manuela Mariani

Marcy Tivol

Margie Greenwald

Mark Pensler

Mary Steele

Maryann Hinden

Max Schireson

Metin Gokcen

Mich Rivera

Michael Andrews

Michael Rosenberg

Michele Madansky

Min Bai

Nan Caldwell

Nancy Kehl

Nate Munger

Ove Jonsson

Pam Stoner

Peggy Sprague

Polly Siegel

Qing Lu

Rajeev Gupta

Rajeeva Sharma

Rick Jasper

Rita Rubenfeld

Robin Li

Ron Karr

Ryan Wessels

Sandra Erickson

Sandy Koo

Sheila Martin

Shirley Foreman

Sioux Atkinson (deceased)

Sona Bhambhra

Sriram Narasimhan

Steve Weinstein

Sue Johnston

Susan Wachsman

Ted Sanders

Theron Tock

Tim Capes

Valerie Baldwin

Vinita Gupta

Yanling Wang

Ying Liu

Supporters

There have been many contributions, both local and from around the country (and world!) which have been instrumental to SiVY's success. In addition to major monetary donations, we have received free and deeply discounted books, among other support. I'd like to name some of these supporting individuals and organizations, again with apologies to all those I am leaving out.

  • Silicon Valley bridge community
  • Palo Alto Bridge Unit 503
  • Bridge Winners
  • Bridge Winners community 
  • Rosenthal family foundation
  • Stukalow family
  • American Contract Bridge League
  • Larry Cohen
  • Marty Bergen
  • Bridge World Magazine
  • Baron Barclay
  • Master Point Press

 

Lauren Friedman Center for Bridge Education of San Francisco Founder

In advance of the SF Nationals, I'd also like to give a special mention and thanks to Lauren Friedman and The Center for Bridge Education of San Francisco (CBE), who made getting started so much easier for us by taking us on as a "DBA" (doing business as), giving SiVY 501C3 status with minimal effort. Lauren has been a quiet force behind the scenes of youth bridge for far longer than SiVY has existed. She is an active competitor, so when you see her at the nationals, please thank her for all she has done for youth bridge. CBE and Peninsula Youth Bridge (PYB) are both neighboring youth programs, which will have kids participating at this nationals. Along with District 21, the three local youth organizations are co-hosting Junior Day on November 30th.

Coming after the NABC: Part 2 with the history of SiVY and lots of program details. In the meantime, please join me in recognizing the people behind the program. Thank you all.

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