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Trained By The Best: Commander Alex Blair

Do you remember what it was like as a ‘cadet’ in the SB118 academy?  I know I do, and the positive experience I had in my training class really helped set me up for a positive experience in the fleet as a whole.  Often, members may not realise exactly how much power the training team really has. You see, first impressions matter, and a bad first impression will most likely result in a prospective member to abandon the attempt to join, where as a positive experience can help set up a new member for great success in our group.  That is why this particular team is so important.

The training team is made up of a number of individuals who all spend extra time and energy to help acclimate newcomers to SB118’s simming style, or sometimes simming in general!  One of those members is none other than Alex Blair.

DeVeau: Hello Alex, and thank you for joining us!

Blair: Hello Alora, thanks for having me!

How long have you been a part of SB118 and how did you find it?

I’ve been a member of SB118 for almost four years now, and have loved every minute of it! I found the group in a roundabout way. I was involved in several PBEMs in the past and never really stuck with them. After a month or two, I would get bored and leave. One day, I was looking for something to occupy some free time and did a Google Search for PBEM. I found SB118 and on a whim decided to join. Now I don’t think the fleet will ever get rid of me!


A Moment with the Academy Commandant

One of the most important aspects of our group has always been, and will continue to be, the Training Team. It is through our Academy, staffed by the training team, that new members are welcomed into our fleet and introduced to our way of simming. Because of that, and the importance of new members to the health of the fleet, it’s vital that things continue to run smoothly.

But what does it take to make that happen? Today, we talk to Fleet Captain Andrus Jaxx, the Commandant of the Starbase 118 Training Academy. Having taken over as head of the Training Team and our Academy not that long ago, it’s been his job to step into the shoes of those that have come before and, as he says, “build upon the efforts launched by Fleet Captain Riley”, the previous Academy Commandant.

One of the initiatives started by Fleet Captain Riley was the Training Scenario Contest, won by Commander Alucard Vess. This year, Fleet Captain Jaxx is moving it to February to coincide with Writing Improvement Month. When asked about this contest, Fleet Captain Jaxx said, “Our trainers have the ability to write a scenario that can be used for a year. It’s a fresh scenario for our trainers to use that’s different from the eight that we cycle through normally.”

Of course, like any good leader, he’s also got a few plans of his own. When asked about some upcoming goals for the training team, Fleet Captain Jaxx said, “For 2014, we will be launching a new “Meet the Trainer” news column, where we can feature a trainer and what they have learned in the Academy, as well as their favorite part of training. Another focus for this year, which started when I took over as Commandant, will be sim quality. Dialogue heavy sims are a thing of the past, and we want to inspire our new cadets to embody their characters, not just speak for them.”

Fleet Captain Jaxx, along with the Academy staff, will be providing trainers feedback, just as they give feedback to incoming officers. “The biggest thing that members can get is experience and development in leading. The Academy is designed to help them develop as future command officers, just as much as it is for them to develop new cadets into members of our community. I think that was the intention when the Academy was conceived, and I think that will always be the goal as we drive forward. We have instituted a new feedback system so that as a trainer develops through the roles of ghost, mock, FO, and CO, they receive pointers from the Academy Staff. This will give them direction as they progress through the system.” Jaxx said.

For anyone aspiring to become a training officer, Jaxx also had some words of wisdom for them.

“The training team can always use great officers. I think anyone looking to train new officers has to have good mix of dialog and descriptive text. If they have a passion for simming, and a desire to pass that passion on to new recruits, then the Academy is a team they can enjoy. It can be demanding at times; when serving as the CO or FO, daily simming is required for the duration of the class. Each class can be a week, to a week and a half in length. We urge anyone that feels like this is something they would like to do, to speak to their CO!”

As we move into 2014, it is apparent that the Training Team will continue to provide high quality instruction to our newest members of the fleet. Thanks to Fleet Captain Jaxx for taking time out to answer our questions, and for giving us an inside glimpse at what it is to be the Academy Commandant.

For more information on the team, be sure to visit their page, or talk to your CO today about joining.