Daily Dart Peeps Profile: NDA Past President & Tournament Director Dawn Orloff-Niesen, Minnesota

NDA: Dawn, tell us a bit about yourself—where you grew up and live now…and your family.  Besides work, any hobbies or interests?

DAWN: WELL, I GREW UP IN WHITE BEAR LAKE, MINNESOTA AND THAT IS ALSO WHERE MY HUSBAND TIM AND I RESIDE. WHEN I’M NOT AT WORK, I LIKE TO SPEND TIME HANGING OUT WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS. I ALSO ENJOY GOING TO THE CABIN AND PONTOONING, 4-WHEELING AND HAVING BONFIRES.

NDA: How did you get into the coin op business and specifically, darts?

DAWN: IT’S A LONG STORY, BUT THE SHORT VERSION IS THAT MY FRIENDS AND I LOVED PLAYING POOL BACK IN THE DAY, SO I DECIDED TO START AND RAN AN INDEPENDENT POOL LEAGUE IN OUR LOCAL BARS. I HAD QUITE A FEW TEAMS PLAYING ON A COUPLE OF DIFFERENT NIGHTS. ONE DAY, I WAS APPROACHED BY A COUPLE WHO OWNED AN AMUSEMENT ROUTE AND HAD JUST BOUGHT DART BOARDS. THEY HAD HEARD ABOUT ME RUNNING LEAGUES AND WANTED ME TO COME AND WORK FOR THEM RUNNING THEIR DART LEAGUES. BACK THEN WE RAN 4 PERSON TEAMS MENS AND WOMENS DART LEAGUES PLAYING 301. IT TOOK OFF FAST, WE HAD LEAGUES GOING 5 NIGHTS A WEEK. HE ENDED UP SELLING, I STAYED AND CONTUINED TO RUN LEAGUES AND THE REST IS HISTORY AS THEY SAY.

NDA: As dart league manager, at American Amusement Arcades in Bloomington, MN, what are your primary responsibilities? 

DAWN: PROMOTING LEAGUES, RECRUITING PLAYERS/TEAMS, PUTTING TOGETHER/BUILDING RUNNING LEAGUES FROM START TO FINISH, RUNNING/PREPPING FOR STATE AND LOCAL TOURNAMENTS, SETTING UP AND RUNNING YEAR END BANQUETS/TOURNAMENT. TEACHING/MEETING WITH OUR LOCATION OWNERS/MANAGERS AND TEACHING THEM THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING LEAGUES IN THEIR EASTABLISHMENT AND HELPING THEM UNDERSTAND HOW LEAGUES RUN/WORK…JUST TO NAME A FEW!          

NDA: What do you like most about darts?

DAWN: EVERYTHING, IT’S A UNIQUE SPORT AND VERY REWARDING TO SEE ONE OF YOUR LOCATIONS THAT MIGHT NOT HAVE A LOT OF CUSTOMERS ON ANY ONE GIVEN NIGHT. BUT WHEN YOU PUT DART LEAGUES IN THEIR BAR IT’S A WHOLE DIFFERENT STORY. THROUGH PLAYING DARTS AND RUNNING LEAGUES AND TOURNAMENTS, I HAVE MADE SO MANY PROFESSIONAL AND PERSONAL LIFETIME FRIENDSHIPS. I REALLY JUST LIKE SEEING ALL MY PLAYERS HAVING A GOOD TIME THROWING DARTS AND MAKING MEMORIES WITH OLD AND NEW FRIENDS. THE CAMARADERIE THAT BRINGS A COMMUNITY OF DARTERS TOGETHER WHETHER ITS PLAYING LEAGUES OR A TOURNAMENT.

NDA:  You’ve been around this industry/sport for a long time.   What’s the biggest change you have seen over the years?

DAWN: TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENTS. NOT THAT LONG AGO, IT WAS PAPER, MAIL, PAGERS AND FAXES. WE DID EVERYTHING BY HAND FOR LEAGUES– SCHEDULES, SCORESHEETS, RULES AND STATS JUST TO NAME A FEW AND FOR TOURNAMENTS IT WAS DOING UP THE BRACKETS AND MATCH CARDS AND HAVING TO RUN THEM MANUALLY. NOW FOR LEAGUES AND TOURNAMENTS, IT’S COMPUTERS/LAPTOPS, CELL PHONES, LEAGUE SOFTWARE, TOURNAMENT SOFTWARE, ONLINE REGISTRATION, EMAIL, SOCIAL MEDIA AND SO MUCH MORE. WE HAVE COME A LONG WAY!

NDA:  You have been involved in NDA for 35 years. You served as the organization’s President in 2002 and were in the inaugural class of NDA Hall of Fame inductees in 2006. What has your involvement in NDA meant for you—personally and professionally?

DAWN; EVERYTHING, IT’S HARD TO PUT IT INTO WORDS. IT’S BEEN A GREAT HONOR TO SERVE AND BE INVOLVED IN THE DECISION MAKING AND GROWTH OF OUR ORGANIZATION OVER THE PAST 35 YEARS. I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO THE NEXT 35 😊. I HAVE LEARNED A LOT THROUGH OUT THE YEARS. WE HAVE ALL GONE THROUGH MANY CHANGES AND CHALLENGES IN OUR ORGANIZATION, WHICH I BELIEVE IT HAS MADE US ALL STRONGER BOTH PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL IN OUR EVERYDAY LIVES AND OUR INDUSTRY. THANKS TO MY NDA FAMILY/FRIENDS/PLAYERS!

NDA: As Tournament Director of Team Dart, you are involved in virtually everything from setup to teardown onsite, but it’s really a major, year-round project for you, the Tournament Committee and staff. It must be both challenging and satisfying at the same time. If yes, what give you the most headaches and what is the most satisfying part of Team Dart?   

 DAWN: YES, IT IS, BUT I LOVE THE CHALLENGE EVERY YEAR PREPARING FOR THE NEXT TEAM DART. YOU END ONE TEAM DART AND IT ON TO THE NEXT YEAR’S TEAM DART, ITS VERY GRATIFYING. WE ARE BLESSED WITH A GREAT NDA STAFF, BOARD OF DIRECTORS, MANUFACTURERS, VOLUNTEERS, OPERATORS AND VENDORS TO WORK WITH AND MAKE EACH TEAM DART THE BEST IT CAN BE. WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE, IT IS VERY SATISFYING TO KNOW THAT EVERYONE HAD A FANTASTIC EXPERIENCE AND CAN’T WAIT TO COME BACK NEXT YEAR. I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT TEAM DART AND MAKING IT A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE FOR ALL OUR NDA PLAYERS AND OUR NDA FAMILY/FRIENDS FROM THE BEGINNING TO THE END.

NDA:   This year’s 35th anniversary Team Dart was shaping up to be a special, memorable event.  Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, NDA canceled the tournament that would have just ended earlier this week.  One of the most impressive facts about your tenure with darts and NDA is that you are one of two people who has been to every single Team Dart tournaments—all 34 of them to date.  What are your thoughts on this?

DAWN: SADDENED, I NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD SEE THIS IN MY LIFETIME, NOR VEGAS CLOSING DOWN, LET ALONE EVERYTHING ELSE. I KNOW IT WAS A DISAPPOINTMENT FOR ALL OF US TO HAVE TO CANCEL TEAM DART BUT DUE TO THE CLOSURES AND STAY-AT-HOME MANDATES, IT WAS THE ONLY DECISION TO MAKE TO FIGHT THE PANDEMIC. I KNOW WE ALL WERE SO LOOKING FORWARD TO OUR 35TH ANNIVERSARY OF TEAM DART THIS YEAR AND WE ALL PUT A LOT OF HARD WORK INTO IT THROUGH OUT THE YEAR TO MAKE IT A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE FOR OUR NDA DART PLAYERS. STAY POSITIVE, WE WILL COME BACK STRONGER AND CELEBRATE OUR 35TH TEAM DART IN 2021, SHOOTING DARTS AND SPENDING TIME WITH FRIENDS.

NDA: What have you and your family been doing to get through these challenging times?    What is your typical day like?    

DAWN: MY HUSBAND IS STILL WORKING, FAMILY IS DOING WELL, JUST TAKING IT A DAY AT A TIME. IT’S HARD THOUGH, BECAUSE WE ARE ALL CLOSE AND ITS TOUGH NOT TO SEE THEM OR JUST TO GIVE THEM A HUG. WITH OUR INDUSTRY AFFECTED BY THE COVID 19 PANDEMIC AND ALL OUR LOCATIONS SHUT DOWN, I AM LAID OFF NOW AND JUST TRYING TO KEEP BUSY SO I DON’T GO STIR CRAZY. I’VE BEEN WORKING ON AND GETTING EVERYTHING PREPARED FOR SUMMER LEAGUES IN THE HOPE THAT WE CAN GET BACK TO WORK, HELP OUR LOCATIONS GET BACK UP AND RUNNING AND OUR PLAYERS CAN GET BACK TO WHAT THEY LOVE, PLAYING DARTS. ALSO, JUST WORKING ON CLEANING UP OLD LEAGUE FILES, OLD EMAILS THAT YOU JUST DON’T NORMALLY HAVE TIME TO DO EVERYDAY AT WORK. KEEPING UP ON THE NEWS AND THE GOVERNOR’S SPEECH DAILY AND TRYING TO STAY POSITIVE. THEN OF COURSE DOING A LITTLE CLEANING ROOM BY ROOM, IT’S AMAZING HOW MUCH STUFF WE ALL ACCUMULATE OVER THE YEARS. OH, AND THEN THERE IS THAT IMPORTANT EXERCISE PART AND GETTING OUT IN THE FRESH AIR AND DOING A LITTLE WALKING EVERY DAY. I ALSO LOOK FORWARD TO OUR NDA CALLS SO I CAN KEEP IN TOUCH WITH MY NDA FAMILY, I MISS YOU ALL! HUGS!

NDA:  No one has a playbook on this, but what is your outlook during the next 6-9 months?

DAWN: WE WERE JUST INFORMED THAT OUR STAY AT HOME ORDER HAS BEEN EXTENDED TILL MAY 4TH, SO I AM HOPING THAT BY THE END OF MAY WE CAN START TO GET BACK TO SOME KIND OF NORM AND BE ABLE TO GET OUR LEAGUES BACK UP AND RUNNING BY JUNE 1ST, FOR ALL OF OUR DART PLAYERS, LOCATIONS OWNERS, BARS, RESTAURANTS. I KNOW THIS HAS BEEN SUCH A HARDSHIP ON EVERYONE AND IT IS SO HARD FOR ALL OF US BEING COOPED UP AND NO WHERE TO GO.

NDA:  What is your favorite…

Movie: DON’T REALLY HAVE JUST ONE FAVORITE

Music or band: COUNTRY MUSIC

Food: STIR FRY

…TV show: NCIS, CRIMINAL MINDS AND CHICAGO FIRE

…Thing to do in Vegas (besides running a dart tournament there): I ENJOY SPENDING TIME FRIENDS, ALSO I LOVE PEOPLE-WATCHING ALWAYS INTERESTING IN VEGAS AND OF COURSE DOING A LITTLE GAMBLING HOPING TO WIN THAT BIG JACKPOT SOMEDAY!

NDA: Anything else to add?

DAWN: I WOULD JUST LIKE TO GIVE MY HEARTFELT THANKS TO ALL OF THE PEOPLE OUT ON THE FRONT LINES WHO ARE WORKING SO HARD AND PUTTING THEIR LIVES AT RISK FOR ALL OF US DURING THIS COVID-19 PANDEMIC. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR SERVICE TO HELP MAKE OUR COUNTRY SAFE AND HEALTHY AGAIN!

Published April 10, 2020

Posted in