Approximately once a week, new writers are given a chance to get acclimated to our fleet and learn our formatting and style through the fast-paced, week-long training class. Not only does it provide an introduction to UFOP:Starbase 118 to these writers, it also allows the rising officers in the fleet to gain experience in the Command Chair. In our second in a series of articles on the Academy’s 35 Trainers, we’ll be spotlighting Lieutenant Commander Tal Tel-ar, First Officer on the USS Challenger.
In real life, Tal keeps himself busy with a wife of 12 years, 4 kids, and his current job as a corrections officer at a maximum security corrections facility, where he has been employed for the last 16 years. One of his major hobbies is hand-painting toy soldiers, which he enters in competitions. In talking about these competitions he says “I have won a number of plaques and numerous medals (Gold, silver and bronze) for my painting ability.” In addition to this, he enjoys comic books, games, and of course sci-fi. When asked about his introduction to Star Trek, he explains that his “first exposure was the original series when I was in my teens. I liked it but was not wowed by it. The newer stuff, especially DS9 and Enterprise were the ones I liked the most.”
Our interview moved to his character, where he explained that in his years of playing email and table-top Star Trek RPGs, he had found the Andorian species intriguing. He elaborated, “the mix of military bearing and aloofness about them just seemed to suit me.” He was recently appointed to First Officer and when asked about this noted that it was “quite the accomplishment for a character that spent most of his first 6 months in the brig when ever he was on shore leave.” He described his initial concept for Tel-ar as “an outsider who did not make friends and tended to get into trouble.’ He went on to explain the changes his character has undergone since he joined: “Now he is a dedicated officer, married to a human female Lt. Cmdr. Elina Rose Kincade Tel-ar and they are expecting kids right now unless their are unforeseen medical complications.” Musing about the relationship he said “I never planned for him to get married but as in real life Tal never stood a chance once the woman had her heart set on spending the rest of her life with him.”
Our conversation turned from his character to the Academy. I asked why he joined the Trainers and he responded that, because this is the best email RPG he’s ever been a part of (“and I have tried a number of them”), he joined to help out others who wanted to join UFOP: StarBase 118. He went on to explain that the sense of community in the fleet is the quality that makes the group great, pointing out that he has made a number of really good friends during his tenure here. He noted that his most rewarding moment in the Academy was becoming friends with a Cadet he had trained after that cadet was posted to his crew. The friendship grew and now both of them work on a number of wiki projects together, including the Species Development Committee.
He then described the most valuable lesson that he had learned in one word: patience. In explaining the different ways a trainer needs patience, he pointed out that some of the cadets need some extra help in adjusting to our style. “Usually all it takes is some encouragement and providing them with good examples as well as explanations of why we do it that way so they understand.” He made sure to point out one of the many ways that the academy was fun: the “unexpected twists thrown in by various new Cadets keep you on your toes.” He went on to say that, as a trainer “you really have to be at the top of your game some times in order to do the job justice.”
If being a trainer sounds interesting to you, you can find more information at https://www.starbase118.net/members/taskforces/teams/training/