District 2 Trustee
As many of you know, the Illinois Women's Tapping Team had our debut performance at Watercon 2012 where we completed our second tap with no penalties for a time of 6:05. With the support of ISAWWA we were on our way to nationals at ACE 12 in Dallas, Texas. This is the story of our journey.
When the Women's Tapping Team formed, we knew we had our work cut out for us. The most important job was to practice, practice, practice. But where? With what materials? And when? Our team is unique, not only in because we are women, but also because we are not coworkers and none of us work hands-on with water main. Michelle and Lisa are sales representatives, and Andrea and Candace are engineers. Our daily tools are closer to computers, cell phones, and calculators than bits, wrenches, and pipe.
The Arlington Heights tapping team has to get our first big "thank you!” These guys graciously hosted our first practices and showed nothing but patience and respect as they answered all of our questions, starting with "What exactly are the names of the four roles?” and followed by many more. We received their help before Watercon 2012, but we continued to use their training and advice in our practices for nationals.
Once we understood our roles and equipment, we realized we needed a lot more than our PPE to practice. This is when we were reminded how wonderful the people in our industry are. T-shirts from M.E. Simpson; money for supplies from Swan Analytical Instruments, RMS Utility Services, and The Kupferle Foundry Company; a pipe cutter from Underground Pipe and Valve; word-of-mouth support from Tony Cuzzone and many more; and support from our employers Strand Associates, Inc., Lee Jensen Sales, City of Chicago, and Midwest Water Group, Inc. for allowing us the time and flexibility to practice and to compete.
Even with the gracious support of our industry, there would be no Women's Tapping Team without the City of Chicago and Chuck Bartucci. The Chicago facility at 39th & Iron would become our Friday afternoon workplace, and Chuck helped us to find what worked best for us - not to mention all the tools we borrowed.
After Watercon 2012, the victorious Westmont Crankers hosted a practice for us. We were able to get some additional outside advice and plan for ACE 12, but during our first tap we managed to smack Michelle in the face with a wrench. Although she was a trooper and wanted to keep practicing, she was voted down and practice ended early so we could ice her poor face.
We are extremely proud to be the first Illinois Section AWWA Women's Tapping Team. Knowing that we were on our way to nationals, we had two specific goals: drop our time from Watercon and get a better name/logo. We are now known as the Land of Lincoln Lady Tappers and we love our hot pink on black angry Abe Lincoln logo. Easy stuff out of the way, we put everything into tapping faster. We know that our times look terribly slow compared to the men's times, but when we completed our first tap in under 4 minutes, you'd have thought we just climbed Mt. Everest we were so proud. We weren't going to embarrass ourselves or ISAWWA at nationals.
What an experience ACE 12 was! The men's teams virtually flew around the pipe to complete their taps. The ladies' teams we were competing against turned out to be surprisingly supportive, bringing gifts for each of the other teams. When it was our turn to tap, we could feel the support of our ISAWWA family, but we were focused on one voice -Lisa's. Tapping in Dallas was like nothing we'd experienced before. Although we weren't able to achieve our best practice times, we vastly improved from Watercon with an official best time of 4:16. ACE 12 was a chance to learn about new products and advances in our industry, to take advantage of seeing other tapping teams compete in person, to bond with our fellow ISAWWA members, and to make new friends in the industry. We made the most of the opportunity to attend ACE 12 and had a great time doing it.We sincerely thank the organization for their financial support to get us to Dallas.
We're making plans for the future: using what we've learned to improve our technique, coming up with fundraising ideas, making sure Andrea's doing her push-ups, and practicing under higher water pressure. We are grateful for the support we've received and hope you can all take the time to watch us compete at Watercon 2013!
Andrea Putz, The Crankstress
Candace Scholz, Mistress of Copper
Michelle Hoepner, Star-Woman
Lisa Martini, Allenatrice (the Italian feminine version of "coach”)