Wednesday's Ruck & Maul
UNSUNG HERO - OFF THE FIELD
Karl Klashinsky - aka, Klash
Karl. If you will, in this interview we will address you as Klash, rather than KK, another long-serving, Victoria rugby type!
CW: Klash it has been some time since our website has run this feature. Watching you, filming every men’s and/or women’s home games from your optimum location on “the balcony”, cannot escape one’s interest. Just what is it that motivates you to religiously film and post the matches?
KLASH: I prefer to be involved and to contribute. My philosophy is that life is a participatory sport, and if you put the work in, you’ll get something back. I like to carry that philosophy into everything I do.
CW: Klash, you have been involved in CW one way or another for many years. Can you recount the many capacities that you have served the club?
I started as ‘Assistant Brent’, helping with the senior men’s teams. During that time, the ‘Real Brent’ managed to get me signed up to do a bunch of things: the paper-driven registration process; dues collection for same; setup and testing of the various online registration systems that were foisted on us by BCRU over the years; equipment procurement and management for the entire club; organizing year-end banquets and awards for the teams; helping organize the annual fund-raiser; organizing volunteer events like tree chipping; and probably one or two other things for which the PTSD has removed memories.
That role grew into ‘Chief Temporary Acting Brent’ when the ‘Real Brent’ was off doing other things for a year or two.
I’ve also served on the CW board for several years and providing backup/help to David Crossley to get the senior women’s program off the ground. As an aside, I’m a big believer in One Club, and in this day and age, I think it needs to be One Big Club, with representation at all levels, ages, and genders. Anything less is weakness, which I can expand upon over pints in The Temple.
CW: Why has the videographer role become your main interest? How long have you been filming the games?
KLASH: As you know our legendary PROFESSIONAL filmographer Shaun Barry had to step down a year or two back. I noted that nobody had stepped up to cover for him, and around the same time, BCRU had instituted a new policy that home teams were responsible for filming games and sharing with the league. I had backed off from most of the responsibilities listed above, because I needed to shift my energies back to personal goals (e.g., I really need to get retired!!), but felt I could handle the commitment for home games. And so here we are. I’m now covering home games for both senior men and women, and in the last year or two, I’ve been trying to get out to get video coverage for some of the CW junior games.
CW: How did you first get involved with CW?
KLASH: Shortly after returning to Victoria in early 2000, I came out to play with CW. But I was in my late 30’s at that time, and the club was a Premier level club with no Islander/Div3 team, so it was well beyond the quality of my play. But I love touch, and I became a regular to the Monday night sessions.
In early 2005, my sister passed away from cancer. That was a wake-up call that life happens whether you’re busy or not, and so you need to find time to have a life despite a busy schedule. That’s when I started volunteering for the club.
CW: Klash, you have worn the club colours many, many times. What is your rugby background? Do you have a favourite position and why?
KLASH: I started in the 9th grade, at Spencer Jr High (now a middle school), played all the way through high school. I played for a year or so with the Juan de Fuca Vampires. Didn’t play for several years as I focused on university and getting my work career started, then played with the Bytown Blues in Ottawa. Again, I wasn’t a star by any means, I played recreationally (i.e., “beer league”), but I do remember trying to tackle Al Charron in a Div3 game. Again, a hiatus as we moved and settled in Silicon Valley in California, and I was just starting to get up to speed with the San Jose Seahawks when we decided to move back to Victoria. Then, as per above, got started with CW, and also played with Ebb Tide for a couple of years. I wrapped up my contact-playing days with our Div3/Islanders.
As a footnote, 30 years after high school, I met my high school coach at the CW clubhouse, and only then discovered he is CW alumni. That’s rugby.
I’ve played pretty well every position. I was even a member of the FRF in grade nine and ten! My favourites: #12 or 8.
CW: You have also played Ebb Tide rugby and toured with them. What was the appeal of this and where have you toured?
KLASH: One of the main appeals is what you just noted, and that is that Ebb Tide works hard to keep the touring culture alive. They go on tour every three years, like clockwork. The other appeal is that I wanted to play, and, as I noted above, when I investigated playing with CW, it was obvious to me (and the rest of CW, lol) that I wasn’t going to be able to play at that level.
I went on two Ebb Tide tours, to Chile in 2003, a joint tour with the Canada U-23 squad, and to New Zealand in 2009. Both were awesome experiences, and one of my post-retirement projects will be to get CW out on tour.
CW: What has been your most enjoyable/rewarding contribution to CW? Why?
KLASH: For sure, helping David Crossley to push for junior girls and then the women’s program stands out. But also helping get our fledgling Div3/Islanders team going. In both cases, it’s because I believe in growing the foundation of the club. More on that later.
CW: Then, there is life away from the pitch. Would you mind sharing your line of work? We know you often have need to travel. What does your work entail?
KLASH: I’m a software engineer, which is formal title for a computer programmer. Because of my experience, I tend to be a technical leader, which means that I typically spend more time guiding and directing programmers with less experience. I do a lot of coaching and mentoring as part of that role, which entails technical guidance, and guiding them with their professional and career development. In the post-pandemic world, most people have become familiar with the model of working remotely. I’m a bit of a pioneer in that I started working remotely in late 1999.
CW: Between family, work, and rugby, you must have a very full life. How do you fit the pieces together?
KLASH: I’m blessed (or cursed) with a high-energy metabolism, and the nature of my work has given me good skills for task-juggling. Having said that, as I get ready to cross another decade milestone in March, I can say that age is having an impact on both of those things. As a side note, I have a border collie, and I’ve become fascinated, and inspired, by her “work ethic”. She is older than I am in dog years, and still, she’s always looking for work.
CW: Over your years with the club, you have witnessed many achievements and transitions. What have been a few of the highlights for you?
KLASH: So many. But the single biggest thing is seeing the club expand in every “demographic”, thus improving the size and strength of the club’s foundation. Specifically, the growth of our minor (or “mini”) rugby, the increase and build-out/up of our junior/age-grade programs, both male and female, the addition of a senior women’s program (which now is fielding two teams), and the addition of a Div3/recreational “Islanders” team. Just too bad I’m too old to play for them!!
You’ll notice that I did not mention championships or titles. They are important, and I do have a warm feeling every time I look up at the banners in The Temple… but I believe those are the natural result of the real achievements I mentioned above.
CW: Klash, thank you for taking the time for your thoughtful responses, sharing a little of yourself with our supporters. As a concluding question, how do you see our club doing in the future? In your opinion, what are CW’s strengths and frailties?
KLASH: That’s a pretty open-ended question. In a word, our greatest strength is our culture, and our ability to move that culture forward “with the times”. Let’s keep doing that. I don’t see any specific frailties in CW, but I will share what I worry about, based on watching other clubs falter, and that’s the need for ALL to contribute off the pitch as well as on. A good player is always looking for work on the pitch. A great player is always looking for work off the pitch. That must continue to be part of our culture. Consider coaching or helping out with minis and juniors. Take the referee course. Help with setup/takedown at The Park and at The Temple.
I think CW will continue to thrive, and that we will continue to set the standard to which other clubs aspire, both on the field, and off. To that end, I want to mention that one of the things I learned from my time on the CW board of directors is how much work and effort is required to maintain our club. Not just the obvious things like the financials and the ever-growing administrative effort of being a social/sports club in the 21st century, but also the work required to keep our culture and heritage alive and thriving. My dream/vision is that I want today’s minis and juniors to be able to live, play, and enjoy their rugby and their club as much as we old-timers, and, when they get to my age, hopefully they will be able to reflect back with happy memories and warm feelings.
CW: Again, thank you for your services to CW. We know our players have come to rely on your match videos in their efforts to always improve.