Competitive Communities: Ring Generalship and SQL

I was invited to a press conference a few days ago where Roy Jones Jr., Pensacola, Florida native and at one time considered to be the pound for pound best boxer on the planet, talked about his upcoming fight with Omar Sheika on March 21st.  Throughout the 90’s I avidly followed Roy’s career, paid to view every fight, and cheered when he won.  He grew in stature (figuratively and literally) and eventually became a multi-millionaire from his talents. After every fight, in front a worldwide audience, he always made sure to mention Pensacola. “Pensacola’s in the house!” and I filled with pride for my hometown, for what we as a community could rally behind and come together in partnership and praise of our own hometown hero. We followed Roy through his career, ups and downs, wins and losses and never gave up hope. He had achieved everything he had wanted including moving up from middle weight to heavy weight and defeating John Ruiz, WBA champion at the time.

Fighting in Pensacola, possibly for the last time, Roy is giving back to the community who has followed him all of these years and I for one, a mild mannered DBA and author in Pensacola, cheer him for his efforts.

Now the segue to SQL…

We started a SQL Server users group in Pensacola last year in June. By “we”, I mean myself and my beloved fiancée, Karla. Our first meeting brought in about 12 people. It was at an airport conference room, a room overlooking a huge poster of Roy Jones Jr. coincidentally that people see when entering or leaving Pensacola.  The next meeting doubled the initial numbers and continued on in this vein until our Christmas party which brought in close to 60 people, who by this time were all acquainted with one another. We did not know what to expect when we started. We knew only that we wanted to be part of something that brought people with common interests together for an evening of camaraderie and sharing our knowledge on SQL Server. It could have been a knitting group, rock collecting, paranormal research, what mattered is that we had an interest and we found that others did as well. We began to learn what companies in Pensacola hired and sustained IT professionals, developers, and DBAs. People came from surrounding areas like Alabama who were running their own users group, like LANUG (Lower Alabama .Net Users group) and Gulf Coast .Net Users Group. The world expanded rapidly. We were now visible. Attention was being given to Pensacola…what we wanted all along. It was not personal. It was for all of our user group members…our friends…our hometown.  It was our tiny life raft we set adrift in a coastal community long forgotten as a potential IT market.

During this time, I traveled throughout Florida speaking at SQL Saturday events and I met many SQL MVPs and other professionals living right here in our fine state.  These free, one day, multi-track events brought in 200 to 300 people. These were in bigger cities like Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa.  We HAD to have our own SQL Saturday! Can we get 200 to 300 people here in our little hometown of 50,000 people? Sure we can.  The point is that SQL Saturday is the championship of SQL events, like a heavy weight fight. We are bringing it to Pensacola with the help of our friends we have met this past year.  We spend many waking hours discussing, planning, e-mailing, and pulling resources to make sure this is going to be a success. Why?

Because now more than ever with the economy and some our new friends and user group members losing their jobs, it is important for us to maintain a point of contact, to keep the community alive. One of the most supportive sponsors for our group is an IT recruiting company (Tek Systems…shameless plug) and has helped some of our members be placed in other positions. We also post information on our various websites about other opportunities where we can.

We know our efforts will not have the huge impact of a Roy Jones Jr. bout.  We will not ever fill an 8000 seat arena of people wanting to watch two DBAs go toe to toe on who can bulk load data the fastest. But, I have been working out lately. I think this year I will challenge another Florida SQL MVP to a showdown on DBA trivia right here in my hometown and charge admission via pay per view.  I am not naming names, but I know who I want! And you know who you are.  See you at our Pensacola SQL Saturday in June. Bring your Pumas and your Power Point! “Pensacola’s in the house!”