When I first became the National Cyber League (NCL) Chief Player Ambassador, it was the first time NCL had a Player Ambassador. They had a Coach Ambassador on the Operations Team, but they had never had a former player give perspective on their decisions.
It started with an email. I emailed the NCL to say I was writing a workshop for the Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS) Conference. I told them I was going to use their challenges to help get more girls interested in Capture-the-Flags (CTFs) and I really didn’t want to get sued. I had a list of reasons why it was important and why they weren’t allowed to say no. I remember nervously word-vomiting all this information out at Dan Manson (the NCL Commissioner) only to be met with a laugh.
He thought it was a great idea and asked how he could help. NCL ended up giving me not only permission to use the challenges, but the full competition environment for my workshop. I wrote the first Coaching Guide recognized and approved by the NCL. I started appearing on their Facebook Live show, writing challenge content for their social media team, and more.
Soon we needed to give my role a name.
Chief Player Evangelist was Dan’s first recommendation. The religious connotation wasn’t going to work for me. I spent many hours pouring over this title. What would it mean? What would I do?
When I fell upon the term Ambassador, I fell in love with it because of it’s synonyms: advocate, champion, supporter, campaigner, representative. This is what I would become.
I would represent the views, perspectives, ideals, and values of the players from their own voices. I would listen to what players had to say and I would advocate and champion for them when the NCL Board made decisions. I would offer my unyielding enthusiasm and support to every player because I know how much it can mean to have someone believe in you and support you. I would campaign for new programs and partnerships to help make sure that the NCL Scouting Report could help bridge the gap between curriculum and careers.
And soon, I could not accomplish all of my goals on my own. From the first moment I decided to expand the Player Ambassador Board, I knew I would invite Jeana to join the team. Jeana had been a silent force in all of my campaigns. She helped build my first version of the workshop and every version since. She has now become my second in command.
John was an easy second choice. Having played many CTFs together and struggled through NCL seasons as friends, I knew that his enthusiasm could match my own. He also brought the first male voice to our little team and had the wisdom that comes with life experience. He marked an important change for the program to come.
WebWitch was the easiest choice. To me, they represented the success of all of my hard work. Jeana and I met WebWitch at WiCyS in 2019 as they were one of the most enthusiastic participants in our conference-long CTF Coaching Center. The three of us became fast friends and we knew the team would not be complete without them.
When it comes down to it, I became a Player Ambassador because I thought it was important. I didn’t really know what it was going to become. I just wanted to help people find their passion in a way that made learning feel like playing. I wanted to help them to destroy any doubts about whether or not they belonged or whether or not they are smart enough. I thought, what better way to battle my own demons than to help others battle the same ones.
Today, the NCL Player Ambassador Board has become more than I could have every imagined. We have three AMAZING Lead Ambassadors who support me with eight incredibly talented, bright, and inspiring Ambassadors supporting them. I’m so excited about this weekly series where you will learn a little more about each of our new Ambassadors.
Until then, be sure to check out each one on their pages under “Meet the NCL Player Ambassadors” on the navigation bar.