Calling an Audible

When Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers gets to the line of scrimmage, he often will “call an audible,” a change in play at the last moment that will supersede the play originally agreed upon as the result of a change in strategy due to unexpected circumstances.  In an earlier article (“Contingency Planning,” dated January 06, 2016), I mentioned the importance of having a thoughtful and carefully-crafted back-up plan in the event that the original plan cannot be carried out for some reason.  I mentioned the unexpected postponement of my beloved annual participation in the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships on Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis as an example of when a back-up plan is necessary.

The U.S. Pond Hockey Championships feature over 2,000 players from around the world who converge upon a frozen lake in Minnesota each January.  It’s a time to be kids again for a long weekend of outdoor hockey “the way nature intended.”  For many participants, the event reminds them of their childhood.  As a hockey fanatic growing up in the moderate climate of the Monterey Peninsula, the event allows me to have the childhood I always dreamed about.  

When I was a kid, my grandfather often told me stories about playing hockey on a frozen pond in the Czech Republic and I read about Wayne Gretzky’s famous backyard rink.  I had often hoped that Lake El Estero in Monterey would miraculously freeze over one day or that I’d be able to flood my backyard in Pebble Beach on a very cold night and that it would somehow turn to ice, even if for a few brief moments of magical skating.  Unfortunately, none of these unlikely wishes ever came to fruition.   

When I discovered the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships tournament about five years ago, I realized that this was my chance to fulfill that childhood dream.  I initially had trouble convincing fellow Californians to join me.  Undeterred, I was able to connect with a team from Iowa.  I headed to the frozen north not knowing my teammates or what to expect but decided to jump in headstrong with unbridled enthusiasm.  After my California friends saw how much fun I was having, they finally agreed to join me a few years later and they too became instantly hooked.  Now, as soon as we are flying home from the most recent tournament, we count the days until the next year’s festivities.  

One can imagine the disappointment we felt when less than a month before the tournament, the organizers were forced to postpone it by a few weeks due to mild weather.  We were unable to change our flights, lodging, and time-off and realized that we could not adjust to the new schedule.  We had all the arrangements in place but no tournament in which to participate.  However, we decided to push forward with our travel plans and call an audible.

We realized that while the lake might not be frozen enough to safely accommodate 2,000 players, there would likely be many opportunities to skate outdoors. To us, Minnesota is a mystical land where outdoor skating rinks can be found in dozens of city parks on every corner.  Surely we’d still be able to play hockey “the way nature intended.”  

The tournament organizers were kind enough to welcome us to their daily lunchtime pick-up hockey game in a park around the corner from their office.  They connected us with other locals who invited us to play in another pick-up game in yet another public park.  We even had the honor to play with 3-time NCAA Division I National Champion and University of Minnesota legend, Rachel Ramsey, the most talented player with whom we had ever had the privilege of sharing the ice.  (She skated circles around us as we expected.  However, I won my face-off against her, though that was likely due to the fact that I accidentally jumped the gun about a half second early – it was just too much awesomeness happening all at once!)  

After the trip was over, we realized that our contingency plan turned out to be a better experience than what our original plan would have been.  My teammates and I are glad that we did not give up on our 2016 pond hockey adventure despite the unexpected challenges that Mother Nature provided this year.    

It is very common to delay important planning because the ideal solution is not readily apparent.  When there are no obvious answers, there is a propensity to give up all together.  I often see this with regard to estate planning.  Clients understand that they are mortals and that they should plan for incapacity and death but are uncertain of how to proceed.  I always tell my clients that “a plan is better than no plan.”  In fact, when they force themselves to confront challenges and obstacles that have hindered them in the past, they are able to achieve a clarity and develop a more detailed and comprehensive plan than the one they originally contemplated.  

KRASA LAW, Inc. is located at 704-D Forest Avenue, Pacific Grove, California, and Kyle may be reached at 831-920-0205831-920-0205.

Disclaimer: This article is for general information only.  Reading this article does not create an attorney-client relationship.  Before acting on any of the information presented in this article, it is important that you consult with a competent attorney who is licensed to practice law in your community.