Trained by the best

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Trained by the best: Jocelyn Marshall

We’re here with another interview with a member of the Academy Training Team for insight on how our training works, and as recognition for all the hard work that goes into training new members each and every week of the year!

This month’s interview is with the writer behind LtCmdr. Jocelyn Marshall playing a human female assigned to the USS Gorkon. LtCmdr. Marshall is also the most recent recipient of the Boothby Award, an annual award for trainers who go above and beyond their Academy Training Requirements. These trainers display an outstanding example of dedication to bringing new cadets to our community.

THORAN: Hello LtCmdr. Marshall! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself for the folks who may not know you?

MARSHALL: Hey! I’m Em and I write for Jo Marshall, the XO of the USS Gorkon. It’s the only ship I’ve written on since graduating from the Academy myself back in 2016. I live and work in Belgium as an Ops Officer for NATO, which is a lot more boring than it sounds. I’m from the UK and so, like most fellow expats, I have to smuggle tea across the border through France. Baked beans taste strange here and fish and chips cost a fortune. I’ve been roleplaying for years, I’m often found with a book in my hand, and if I haven’t got at least one 15-page JP going on, it’s cause for concern. And I have a slight addiction to coffee, but doesn’t everyone?

How long ago did you join Academy Training Team, and what was it like getting started?

I definitely don’t have to look it up… It’s been about a year now! I joined the training team as a Lieutenant in September 2018. Getting started was the easiest bit about the whole thing! For the first two sessions you volunteer for, you’re the resident ghost. You read the sims and feedback sent in, observe how the cadets are performing, and join in with the discussions in the staff group. All that prepares you for the real test. Writing as a mock cadet is both really rewarding and challenging. I think for the first time round, I was more nervous than the cadets! Like a PNPC, you develop a character ready to take their final examination with real cadets. It’s your job to set an example of how we do things, so every sim has to be scrubbed and polished for cadets to emulate — and they will! It’s so much fun to do.

What’s been your favorite part about training so far?

My favourite bit is always seeing a cadet I’ve helped to train graduatinge into the fleet and enjoying themselves. It sounds like a textbook answer, I’m aware, but there really is nothing like it. Over this year I’ve been in classes with some amazing writers graduatingslipping into our community who are now shooting up the ranks with boundless energy and enthusiasm. It’s a privilege to be one of the first people to sim with and get to know them before they’re all wearing Admiral tricorners.

How do you approach the role of CO of a training class – what’s going through your head as you’re simming?

I try and jump in with a lot of energy and create a welcoming atmosphere for the cadets to feel comfortable in. Coming into a group knowing you’re simming alongside existing members can be quite daunting for some, and having to roleplay in a format you’re not used to can be challenging. So, from the offset, my efforts go into making sure the cadets know they’ve got time to get used to it all, can ask questions when they like, and just have FUN! It’s a week where anything can happen — create a new species, get chased by a xenomorph through the vents, cure a plague, go back or forward in time — and I’m there to ensure they’re getting the best out of training by demonstrating those creative skills. If I’ve done my job right, they’re confident in taking their first steps into the fleet.

For some technical specifics, when I’m putting a sim together for the team, I make sure I’ve read and delved into everyone’s posts, capturing those small details they’ve included. I ask questions in character to tease out creative answers and solutions, and aim to ensure everyone knows how important they are to the story we’re crafting. Absolutely none of it could be done without a great XO and mock cadets. They help bring it all to life and make the role of CO insanely easier.

Some of the best advice I’ve ever had from my CO is, “If you take an interest in someone’s character, they take an interest in yours.” Regardless of whether we’re together for a week or a year, you’ve got a character and a story, so tell me about it.

What’s your favourite memory of your time on the training team?

Oh man, that’s a question! There’s so many classic moments! I’ve given the XO the run around on a haunted ghost ship, I’ve been the XO having issues with man-eating ankle-biting tribbles, and I’ve been the CO stranded on a planet with werebears scratching at the door and a full class of eight with no where else to go, slowly going mad.

If I had to pick just one, it would be writing for my mock cadet with Lieutenant Commander Shayne as the XO, where Shayne and my mock were trapped in a station room with a spider thing that was definitely out for eating them. The scene was eerie, the real cadet loved it and really got into it. It’s now a running joke that every class I do with Shayne or Commander Thoran becomes a Lovecraft homage.

What advice would give to those who are coming up through the ranks and headed toward the Training Team?

If you’re not quite at the point where you can volunteer for the training team, you can still start to put together those skills that you’ll need. Start thinking about facilitating the plot for your fellow crew members, how do you make it interesting and push the story forward, and observe how others around you write. It’s often said that writers improve by reading, practice and feedback, so don’t be afraid to ask for input from your mentor on how you can start preparing for the training team.

If you’re in two minds now whether to volunteer, think back to how your academy training went. Remember how you felt during that first week. Did your team make you feel welcome? Did you enjoy writing with them? Did you make friends? You can do that all over again on a monthly basis. Your time, effort and dedication to the team will be absolutely invaluable and so very appreciated. It’s one of the most important teams we have in the group — bringing in new members into the fold — and if you’ve got the experience and time to do so, you won’t regret it. As a team, we work well together, we volunteer when we can, and we have a laugh. It’s always fun, it’s incredibly rewarding…

…and you can wrestle a nine-foot tribble into the path of a xenomorph maw, if you really want to.

Thank you so much for your time — we’ll let you get back to training!

You can read more about LtCmdr. Marshall on the wiki, and learn more about joining the Academy Training Team on this page.


Trained by the best: Lael Rosek

We’re here with another interview with a member of the Academy Training Team for insight on how our training works, and as recognition for all the hard work that goes into training new members each and every week of the year!

This month’s interview is with the writer behind LtCmdr Lael Rosek, playing an Al-Leyan/Human female assigned to the USS Veritas.

THORAN: Hello LtCmdr. Rosek! Can you tell us a little about yourself for the folks who may not know you?

ROSEK: Well, I’m a mom to a brilliant, funny six year old boy and a precocious, happy two year old boy, both of whom are my world. When I’m not with them, I work part time as an Assistant Preschool Teacher caring for two and three year olds. I’ve been writing with 118 on and off for 12 years. Some may remember my first PC, Rebecca Hollendale (2004-2008), a Security/Tactical officer, or my second PC, Elina Kincade (2008-2011), an Engineering officer and later a Nurse.

How did you learn about our community, and what motivated you to join us?

When I first joined back in 2004, I found 118 through a Google search. It was near the top of the results and as I looked at the website, I was really impressed by the application process, so I decided to give it a try. The rest is history.


Trained by the best: Nikki Ryan

Each month we interview a member of the Academy Training Team for insight on how our training works, and as recognition for all the hard work that goes into training new members each and every week of the year!

This month, we’re sitting down with Nikki Ryan, a Lieutenant playing the CMO of the Veritas.

WOLF: Hello LtCmdr. Ryan! Can you tell us a little about yourself for the folks who may not know you?

RYAN: First, thank you for having me here. I think most members of the Fleet know me as Rune Jolara but I’ve recently made a switch to playing Dr. Nikki Ryan. In real life, I’m a professional visual artist and freelance graphic designer working towards becoming a front end web developer. I’ve loved Star Trek and anything sci-fi since the beginning of time. I’m also (slowly, very slowly) working on a sci-fi/supernatural novel.

You’ve been with the community for a long time! Do you remember how you found us, and what motivated you to join?

Yes, a very long time indeed. A friend originally introduced me to the group way back in 2005. I needed to take an extended LOA. I came back a couple of other times but each time RL happened. Then in 2012, I came back to stay. My motivation was simple, this group combined two things I loved the most, writing and Star Trek. As a bonus, I’ve met some pretty incredible people and made some lasting friendships… really they’re like a second family. I wouldn’t trade my time here for the world.


Trained by the best: Oddas Aria

Each month we interview a member of the Academy Training Team for insight on how our training works, and as recognition for all the hard work that goes into training new members each and every week of the year!

This month, we’re sitting down with Oddas Aria, a Lieutenant Commander playing on Duronis II Embassy, who has been a highly active member of the team recently.

WOLF: Hello LtCmdr. Oddas! Can you tell us a little about yourself for the folks who may not know you?

ODDAS: I’m a software developer working for an awesome software contracting firm. I work out of my house in Florida, but my office is in Alaska, so I have a fairly long commute when I need to go visit with co-workers or clients. Fortunately this only happens three or four times a year.

I’m married and have four children, a couple of whom share my love of Sci-Fi and not just because I named them after some of my favorite characters.

How did you learn about our community, and what motivated you to join us?

I came across a post someone had made in a Google+ Star Trek community, sorry I don’t remember who, and followed the link. It looked interesting and I needed and wanted a game to play so I decided to give it a whirl.

The Academy experience really helped me figure out what was going on, how the mechanics work, and ultimately commit fully.


Trained by the best: FltCapt. Renos

Each month we interview a member of the Academy Training Team for insight on how our training works, and as recognition for all the hard work that goes into training new members each and every week of the year!

This month, we’re sitting down with Fleet Captain Renos for an interview that ranges far beyond just Academy Training.

WOLF: Glad to be sitting down with you for another interview on our Community News. Our last interview was a two-parter, in November 2015. Since then, a lot has changed! Let’s start by talking about your participation in the Academy. How long ago did you get involved with the Academy Training Team, and what was it like getting started?

RENOS: I first started helping the Academy in 2012 when I started working on my requirements for Commander. My Captain nominated me to join the team and I was accepted. Back then there weren’t as detailed guides as there are now but I never felt lost. Since you generally begin by ghosting two classes, then acting as a mock cadet for at least two, but the time you try to your hand as first officer you’ve already seen it in action at least 4 times and that alone gives you a pretty good idea about what you need to do.

The Academy Commandant was also very supportive. I remember the first time I ever did a class as CO I was incredibly nervous and had a very difficult cadet but the Commandant was very supportive and able to help me with situation. It felt great knowing that they had my back and thankfully such cases are incredibly rare.

Everyone on their way to command has to participate in the Training Team as part of their promotion requirements. But you stayed and continued with the team even after being promoted. What kept you coming back?

There’s a lot to love about being a trainer. I enjoy being able to sim with other people from around the fleet that I don’t get to sim with day-to-day and love being able to share my passion for simming with new players. I still fondly remember my training class 5 years on, with Toni Turner as CO, Tracey Townson as FO and Alleran Tan mocking with the most hilarious Klingon I’ve ever seen. It was my first ever taste of roleplaying and it was such good fun! The experience for me as a cadet was really fantastic and I want to be able to give that to other new players joining us.


Trained by the best: Antero Flynn

Each month we interview a member of the Academy Training Team for insight on how our training works, and as recognition for all the hard work that goes into training new members each and every week of the year!

This month, we’re sitting down with Antero Flynn, a Lieutenant Commander from StarBase 118 Ops, who has been a highly active member of the team recently.

WOLF: Hello LtCmdr. Flynn! Can you tell us a little about yourself for the folks who may not know you?

FLYNN: Thanks for the Introduction! My name is Aaron and I rejoined 118 in the spring of 2015 after a hiatus of several years. Upon rediscovering my past love, I recruited my wife to the group as well and we have been going strong ever since.

In character I write for the fun loving Risian ‘flyboy’ Antero Flynn. He is the Chief of Helm for Starbase Operations and is a friend to everyone he meets.


Trained by the best: Brell

Each month we interview a member of the Academy Training Team for insight on how our training works, and as recognition for all the hard work that goes into training new members each and every week of the year!

This month, we’re sitting down with Brell, a Lieutenant Commander from the Darwin, who has been an active member of the team in the last few months.

WOLF: Hi Brell!! Can you tell us a little about yourself for the folks who may not know you?

BRELL: Well I’m a guy in my early 30s who lives in Arizona with my partner of 12 years in the middle of the desert. I’m a big time Trek nerd for can’t seem to go more than two days without watching an episode or one of the movies. Why would I want too right? In the fleet my most known and current character is Brell the Bolian Chief Engineer of the USS Darwin.

How did you learn about UFOP: SB118 in the first place, and what drew you to join our community?

Well long ago when I first joined it was actually just finding the SB118 website. I had been searching for Star Trek RPG material to read, though I knew I had little chance of getting the tabletop group I had at the time to run a campaign.


Trained by the best: John Nugra

Each month we interview a member of the Academy Training Team for insight on how our training works, and as recognition for all the hard work that goes into training new members each and every week of the year!

This month, we’re sitting down with Capt. John Nugra, a Deputy Commandant for the Academy.

WOLF: Hello Capt. Nugra! Tell us a little about the player behind the character.

NUGRA: Greetings, Admiral! Well, a lot of people know, my name is Jonathan and I have been a member of UFOP: Starbase 118 RPG since 2003. Had a small hiatus between 2006 to 2012, but could not stay away. In real life I work as a freelance writer doing copywriting and blog articles for companies.

You’ve been with the group for quite a while now – tell us a little about what it was like earlier in your career, and how the group has changed over the years?

It was quite exciting. I was originally assigned to the USS Victory (the same ship I took when I had the privilege of taking command) and the crew was focused on action and adventure missions.

What changed over the year that there was not much emphasis on writing as there was on RP, which is one of the major changes we have today. The fleet of today has found a balance between the writing and the RP which I have been enjoying quite a lot.


Trained by the best: Rustyy Hael

Each month we interview a member of the Academy Training Team for insight on how our training works, and as recognition for all the hard work that goes into training new members each and every week of the year!

This month, we’re sitting down with Rustyy Hael, who joined the team as a Lieutenant, which is impressive! The minimum rank required to join the team is normally Lt. Commander, but Lieutenants can be proffered by their commanding officers if they show extraordinary promise.

WOLF: Hello, lieutenant! Can you tell us a little about yourself for the folks who may not know you?

Hael: Oh, there isn’t anything really too special to say. My name is Noelle and I am from Michigan, USA – where the weather can’t make up its mind, 90F one day 40F the next. In between SB and work I cook, doodle, farm, garden and play with animals. I race thoroughbred race horses and hope that it takes off one day to make a career out of it.

I have been a huge fan of Star Trek for as long as I can remember and then some. The original series will always have the top spot for me and my collect of Star Trek paraphernalia is spread out over an entire state because my husband won’t let me bring it all home from my parents’ house… One day!!

How did you learn about UFOP: SB118 in the first place, and what drew you to join our community?

GOOGLE! It was my first and only click, one and done. When I snooped around I found I really liked all the wiki pages. Like everyone had their own special page that added their uniqueness to the game as a whole. It also showed how dimensional and involved the game would be like.

I was also drawn in by everything that we do and how much interaction there is. It isn’t some dictatorship with a script, it’s way more involved than that and everyone is such a pinnacle piece, it really makes you feel useful and appreciated. That was the home run for me.

How long ago did you get involved with the Academy Training Team, and what was it like getting started?

It was, a while ago… And nerve racking!!! Every new position or task put a million butterflies into my stomach. But everything is laid out so clearly, that with some help and a few people pointing things out, I’ve grown rather comfortable and confident in being on the front lines for those joining us.

The best bit of advice I could have for anyone just joining this team is to take a deep breath and just be you. The rest is laid out step by step. But you are the key piece to bring in the newbies and making them feel warm and welcomed, and that goes a long way. I know it did for me!

What’s been your favorite part about training so far?

Everything! Being able to write with a variety of people I wouldn’t have otherwise had a chance too is pretty sweet. Meeting new people and making new friends every chance I can is awesome. Being that person that can watch new cadets turn into ensigns and grown, improve and shine, I enjoy that and being one who helped make that possible. That the top of the cake right there.

Are you working toward command?

That’s the general direction I am slinking towards. But not in a huge rush. I’ve found this adventure to be more enjoyable on the ride than the destination. Though the destination is pretty shiny.

Besides the Training Team, where else are you involved in the fleet, OOC?

Let’s see… I lend a hand in the History club – logging all of the history of SB and her past ships. From the people to their adventures. The top sims club – where I get to read sneak peeks into everyone’s ships. And recently took on dabbling with the species guild club – working on the wiki and forums… I’m pretty sure that’s it. 🙂

Thank you so much for your time — we’ll let you get back to training!

You can read more about Lt. Hael on the wiki, and learn more about joining the Academy Training Team on this page.


Trained by the best: Varaan

Each month we interview a member of the Academy Training Team for insight on how our training works, and as recognition for all the hard work that goes into training new members each and every week of the year!

This month, we’re sitting down with LtCmdr. Varaan, who was recently appointed a Cadet Steward of the Academy.

WOLF: Hello LtCmdr. Varaan, and thanks for sitting down with me to talk more about our training program! We’ve known each other for a long, long time – it’s great to sit down and talk with you in a sorta “retrospective” way, and get your experience over the long-haul.

VARAAN: Thank you. It’s an honour to be here.

Tell us a little about the player behind the character.

Well, I’ve been a supply teacher for a dozen years, am happily married with three wonderful children who are my life (outside of SB118, of course), and I enjoy reading, logic games and puzzles, watching/playing/coaching baseball, and science fiction and fantasy.

As I mentioned above, you were a member many years ago. Do you remember how you found our community? And what differences have you experienced between the way it was when you joined, and the way it is now?

I remember I was away at teacher’s college, and I stumbled upon the site – don’t remember what exactly I was looking for, I just know I was supposed to be doing school work at the time! The concept of PBEM intrigued me. I had some previous experience with MUSHes and MUXes for other genres, but nothing like PBEM. I’ve always liked Star Trek, so the idea of being creative…collaboratively, in a setting like Trek very much appealed to me. I joined, went through training, was assigned a ship, and away I went. I loved it.

As for the differences…I think back then, even though the group had already existed for a number of years, I think we were still getting our feet wet in regards to how to do things, how to do them right, and how to do them better. Captains had more freedom of command style in regards to how to sim, when to sim, the styles of simming, et cetera. On one hand it didn’t inhibit the creative flow, but with varying ways to sim, if a player switched ships they often had to learn a new style. Now, with a streamlined Academy style that continues on to all the ships, it is much easier to move around. And I think there’s a lot more accountability in place, with post counts and forms and the like, trying to keep the fleet running like a well oiled machine.

What brought you back to UFOP: SB118 after your hiatus?

I had found the group and did my simming “all those years ago” while I had internet access from university and college. I didn’t have internet at home. Once I was done school, I had no internet anymore, and so I couldn’t remain with the group. I never WANTED to leave. Which was why, when my wife and I finally felt we HAD to get the internet because now some of the kids are old enough that they need it for their school work, I was able to “come home,” as it were. This group is fantastic, and really illustrates the IDIC principle. For all you non-Vulcans out there, look it up!

You have a rather unique experience with the Academy, as you were once an Academy Deputy Commandant! Do you feel like the Academy has changed since you were in that role?

Oh, absolutely! But from my opinion it hasn’t changed drastically. All of the proper elements are still present. Yet like any living organism, it has evolved over time to adapt to its needs. It’s gained an element here, dropped an element there. But I think that with the training manuals we have now, that really spell out what is expected at each stage of the training program, and the feedback – not only to the cadets, but to the trainers too – I think that really the level of communication, in all its facets, has improved. We’ve always had great trainers and great admin, and we still do.

And now you’re back on the Academy Training Staff as one of the Cadet Stewards. Can you help our members understand what you do in this role?

Sure. When a prospective player submits an application to join the fleet, and it gets accepted, it’s the Cadet Steward that they hear back from. We welcome them to the group, explain about the week long training they’ll go through to make sure they have all the tools they’ll need to be successful, and offer to be a friendly contact person for them until they’re officially on a ship. Then it’s all of your turns to be a friendly person! Behind the scenes, there’s forms and charts for us to fill out, of course, but mostly our job is to be that welcoming presence, someone that they can feel comfortable with should they need something.

What’s your favourite memory of your time on the training team?

Honestly? I guess it was recently…I mean, after I returned to the fleet last year. Before I had left years ago, we had a period where the trainers were allowed to submit new/original training scenarios, to try to update the program. Some were accepted and were made training scenarios. We still use some of them today. I remember that I had written one, which had been accepted. So, jump forward, and I return to the fleet, and then rejoin the training team. There was a week that I was a mock cadet, and the Training CO just happened to choose the scenario I had written almost 10 years prior. I got to be a cadet in my own scenario! It was great! I could see where something I had done was actually being used to help shape new cadets.

What advice would you give to someone who might consider joining the training team?

Do it. I mean, I know it’s a requirement for anyone wanting to advance through the ranks, but even if you aren’t that interested in promotion, you should still consider it anyway. With all of the resources, contact people, and step by step manuals we now have, there’s nothing to be afraid of. Everything is laid out for you. And the simple pleasure of seeing someone grow from a newbie to a productive simmer in our fleet…it’s a great feeling. Especially when you can say you were a part of the formative steps.

Thank you so much for your time — we’ll let you get back to training!

You can read more about LtCmdr. Varaan on the wiki, and learn more about joining the Academy Training Team on this page.


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