Story by April O’Neil
I caught up with the MML coach Serious Jest at Lizzie’s Massage Wonderland in North Isla Nublar.
AO: Thank you for fitting me in to your very tight schedule, Coach Jest, even if it is a little…awkward.
SJ: There’s nothing awkward about me getting a massage. I’ve got a crook in my neck.
AO: Yeah, but I just heard you order something called a Traumatic Beginning, and I’m not really sure what that…
SJ: I’ve got limited time, April. What are your questions?
AO: Oh…umm…okay, well, part of the reason that you have such limited time is that you have taken on a heavier load in terms of number of teams coached. Is there a particular driving force behind that?
SJ: Well, April, as I’ve always said, “Idle hands…”
AO: …are the Devil’s playthings?
SJ: Excuse me, what?
AO: It’s a common saying.
SJ: No, I’ve never heard that before.
AO: Then how were you going to finish?
SJ: Finish what?
AO: Let’s just go back to driving force.
SJ: I was depressed, April. Pretty badly depressed. TMNL went from heavily favored to win the MML Championship—
AO: Okay, I don’t think that’s…
SJ:—to losing 3 games in a row at the end of the season, with the final loss coming to a team that kidnapped Torpedoraptor—
AO: Coach Caven has denied that.
SJ: THEN TELL ME WHY HIS BONES WERE FOUND PICKED CLEAN UNDER A BRIDGE! THEY FED HIM TO THEIR TROLL! THEY KILLED KILLMONO DRAGON! THEY SPREAD THOSE FILTHY MISOGYNISTIC LIES ABOUT YOU! IF WE EVER SEE THEM ON THE FIELD AGAIN, WE’RE GONNA…I’m sorry. This is a place of peace. Those memories bring me back to a dark place.
AO: *quietly* Why don’t you tell me about your expanded coaching responsibilities?
SJ: I felt that I had let everyone down. My team, the fans, even you…everyone who believed in me. Interesting thing about when you fall flat on your face, though: at some point, you have to get up. So I rededicated myself to my craft. I put in the extra hours studying the game the same way my players put in the extra hours honing their skills. I read coaching manifestos by some of the greats. I coached extra Farm games. I even moonlighted in other leagues.
AO: How was that? The last thing.
SJ: There are some pretty cool opportunities out there beyond the horizon of the MML, but I am now even more firmly convinced that the best talent lies here in the MML.
AO: You also got pretty active as a general manager.
SJ: I was around when the Transfer Market opened between Seasons 2 and 3, but I wanted to coach a Pro season before I started making moves. You know, just to get comfortable with the lay of the land, so to speak. But with a Wicked Forest Conference championship under my belt, I felt confident I could negotiate with that “real world” experience this time around.
AO: Who will be replacing Killmono on TMNL’s roster?
SJ: Well, April, as a pretty vocal feminist, you should appreciate this…
AO: I do love girl power.
SJ: The unsung heroes in last season’s conference championship were The Manhatin Lizbians, our lizardwoman Farm team. I really put them through the ringer last season. They played numerous opponents of the same race on the Farm that TMNL was playing that given week in the Pros. I sent them in with an overinflated Team Value, so that their opponents could afford undeserved inducements. I refused to hire wizards when their opponent still out-valued them. They tested out all the dangerous coaching strategies that I didn’t want to risk trying for the first time with TMNL. Still, they often came out on top…but other times, they paid for it. Rest in peace, Killie Jean King.
SJ: So, it seems only right that one of the Lizbians should get the call-up to the Pros, as the first female member of TMNL. Any of those ladies were worthy of the opportunity, but the decision ultimately was made easy by the availability of funds. Frau Farhissina was the youngest Saurus on the Lizbians, but she is also a very hard worker and a quick learner, and the Player’s Union rules make her the only Saurus that we could afford to bring up. Still, she has already caused 9 injuries in only 8 Farm matches, and we’re excited to develop her exponentially in the Big League.
AO: Will she be required to change her name to fit the new mantra of single-name artists required of new TMNL players?
SJ: No. Frau has worked hard to develop the recognition she’s already gained. Her name is hers. She’s earned it.
AO: Have you found a replacement for her on the Lizbians’ roster yet?
SJ: As of this moment we have not yet added another Saurus to the Lizbians’ roster. We plan to do that soon. Our scouts have been hard at work here on Isla Nublar. We believe that this island is ripe with some of the best lizard talent in the world, and our next Saurus star will be home grown.
AO: I believe that.
SJ: In the meantime, however, we have added two experienced skinks from the transfer market to ease some of the heavy load on the Lizbians. The first is Teheit-qa. We acquired him from the ssssymphony of discord. Coach CHASEJJ is a good bashy coach, but he just wasn’t taking much to dodgy skinks, and, to be honest, TQ, as we call him, was taking way too many hits for a Movement 9 skink, in my opinion. After sustaining 5 injuries in 5 Farm matches and currently recovering from broken ribs, he was ready for a change, and we are glad to have him.
AO: Sounds like a playmaker.
SJ: That he is, April. A young playmaker. But our other acquisition is the guy we’re actually in awe of acquiring. As you know, The Cold Hard Truth left the Pros to go fight the good fight for Order in the Age of Sigmar war. But they had to choose their weapons carefully, and Coalt of Zlatlan made it easier on them by voicing his desire to remain focused on the Pros. We can’t guarantee that Coalt will make his way onto TMNL in future seasons, but at the very least, his irreplaceable championship experience and leadership will mold our other young warriors of the future…and he’s probably going to do some pretty remarkable things on the Farm along the way. It is truly an honor to coach Coalt.
AO: You made one other Transfer Market acquisition.
SJ: Yes, as we were negotiating the purchase of Coalt’s contract from Coach Sestonn, we also learned that he was willing to part ways with an extraordinary Beastman, Envy, from the Farm team The Seven Deadly Sins. Envy is as strong as a Chaos Warrior, and he’s more adept at picking up and guarding balls than one of More_Shots’s witch elves.
AO: Cute. Speaking of More_Shots, rumor is that the League Apothecary took issue with your purchase of Envy’s contract.
SJ: Yes, I outbid Shots for Envy, but, ironically, Shots got envious. He started throwing wild accusations around and speculating about some underhanded plot I was hatching to abuse the Transfer Market. Fortunately, the League Commissioner quickly shut that down.
AO: So is there bad blood between you and Coach Shots now?
SJ: I don’t believe so. You see, April, every once in a while, coaches in this league, due to their competitive nature and their thirst to win, resort to arguing about “unwritten rules” and “sportsmanship” as a way to gain a competitive edge off the pitch. They’re all mind games driven to rattle coaches of a more fragile mindset. I don’t let it bother me. Shots and I are cool. We even announced the S3 Championship Game together. I’m over it. We’ll chalk this up as the latest ‘Gate in the league.
SJ: Concedegate, Gruntgate, Transfergate. People get so sensitive about every little thing. They want to cry to the Commissioner over T16 fouls instead of handling it themselves on the pitch next time. With my background in the in the Marines, it took some adjustment for me to learn to deal with all of the thin skin in this League. Thus, the concept for my Challenge League team, Sensitivity Training. You’ll be seeing a lot of Please, Excuse Me, and My Bad in the end zone this season. And if opposing players don’t watch out, they might just get run over by Mr. Nice Guy, Perfect Gentleman, or our new recruit, Momma’s Boy…but it will all be done respectfully and with love. This is a kinder, gentler Serious Jest.
AO: How does a player like Envy fit in with such a respectful and loving team?
SJ: Sometimes, you can be respectful and loving, but still envious, like Coach Shots. *sly smile* Look, Chaos teams are chaotic, and every once in a while, sins will creep into even the noblest of teams.
AO: How is it that you are coaching a Challenge League team this season? Does this jeopardize your Pro status or give you an unfair advantage in TV cap next season?
SJ: Preach contacted me recently and explained that some Challenge League slots were still open, so he wanted to give the MML’s developing coaches a chance to see how they would fare against Pro competition…but there will be no TV advantage for the Pro coach. In other words, if I was to take Sensitivity Training Pro in the future, they would not be afforded the Pro TV cap. They’d be treated like a Farm team. Still, I never got to coach in the Challenge League because TMNL was fortunate enough to get offered a spot in the Pros immediately, so I figured I’d get in on what is turning out to be the MML’s best kept secret.
AO: Is the Challenge League different than the Pros?
SJ: Certainly. Everyone gets into the knockout championship tournament at the end of the Season in the Challenge League, so the pressure on each game is considerably less. Also, the tickets are cheaper, and the stadiums are in locations that have never seen a Pro team, so the fans really cut up. It’s truly a fun atmosphere…like a Farm game with a stat-up.
AO: And how did Sensitivity Training do in its first Challenge League match?
SJ: They really rose to the occasion. Please and Thank You scored on our way to a shutout victory over The Schmucks. Those humans were tough, though. They managed 14 armour breaks to our 9, but they are too green a team still, and our guys basically steamrolled right over them…respectfully, of course.
SJ: Synonimouse is a good coach, however, and I’m certain that the League has yet to see the best out of him, especially once his team develops a little more. I’m glad we got them early in their schedule.
AO: Did that win give you added confidence for tonight’s game against the White Owlz?
SJ: I feel like I’m back, April. I’m me again. But I have a chip on my shoulder and something to prove. I’m going to see if I can score a Farm game for the Lizbians earlier in the day, but come 7pm Eastern ‘Murica time, you can count on a show from TMNL. We plan to set the tone for the rest of the season tonight. TMNL will repeat as WFC Champs.
AO: You heard it here first.
SJ: Now, if you’ll excuse me, honey, it’s about to get dirty in here…unless you want to watch…
AO: I think I’m good.
SJ: You sure?
AO: Yeah, I’ll just…see myself out.
SJ: *Turns over, puts hands behind his head, closes eyes, and smiles* Your loss.