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Sheep Socials

A Sheep Gathering at TGIF, a regular spot for Sheep Socializing; Lake Sumter Ray's Day on Aug. 9, 2012

The Black Sheep Marines team enjoys a remarkable friendship and camaraderie both on and off the boat. Their support and care for one another truly demonstrates a team that puts one another above all else which has created their closely bonded and successful team.

Perfect friendship is the friendship of those who are good, and alike in excellence; for these wish well alike to each other qua good, and they are good in themselves.


Celebrating Chris !!!

The Lady Sheep gathered for a luncheon at Mallory Country Club on March 27th to celebrate Chris' birthday and recognized her for her tremendous contributions to the formation and management of the Black Sheep Marines team. (Go to Sheep Talk for article about Chris). Chris was chauffeured to the event by Susan where she was greeted with a balloon adorned table, thanks to our official party decorator Lynn, and presented with a dozen red roses. Beverages and lunch followed with most all the lady sheep in attendance: Lynn, Jane, Sharon, Gayla, Marie, Julie, Joanne, Kathy, Dela, Marna and Susan.

Cards and gifts were then opened, including a fun bag of wild & crazy things with messages attached that Chris read out loud and a little book of birthday quotes was passed and read by all the team ladies. We did our best to spoil her royally for her day and for a person not accustom to so much recognition and adoration she was overwhelmed and humbled by the pampering, but looking like the star she is in her Easter sun hat, one of the gifts she received! A drawing was held (yes Coco thinks of everything) for 2 door prizes won by Joanne and Mary Lou, whose presence we dearly missed due to her business commitments. Joanne brought a delicious and beautiful cake in coordination with the decor and 3 waiters arrived to sing Happy Birthday with us. The event was concluded with a surprise vocal performance from one of the waiters, who auditioned for American Idol, and wooed Chris with a romantic ballad.

It was a perfect way to spend a beautiful afternoon in celebration of our very loved

"Team Tiger"

On February 24th, the team surprised the heck out of Captain Gordon Gillis and wife Christine with a surprise celebration for Gordon's February 10th birthday. The event was held at Mulberry Recreation Center in the American Theater Ballroom where Coach Greg Walker delivered the stunned guests of honor to the waiting 60 team members and guests. It was an evening packed with emotion as Gordon embraced each of his team members, their significant others and special guests from their Leathernecks days and from as far away as Nova Scotia. Tears flowed from Chris who was in disbelief the entire evening! 

Ray & Pat dance to Rockin' Robbin

It would be difficult to single out the best part of the evening because it was filled with great moments the entire time. Some of the highlights were Gordon & Chris' surprised entrance to "We are the Champions" followed by "We are Family"; the great Oakwood buffet food; the singing of Happy Birthday and lighting of Gordon's birthday cake that featured him in a crown from the team's bus trip to Marathon Battle in the Bay last May; the serving of cake and ice cream by steersman Ted Kasubick; the "Kings Roast" and gift opening on stage emceed by our entertaining team mate John "JMAC" MacPhee; the touching past generation photographs and book with an article on Gordon's father that Greg and wife Connie researched, found and presented to Gordon; all the loving gifts and cards bestowed on our great leader, especially the bright red boxers from the team's dragon sisters that proclaimed "I love dragon ladies" on them (not a favorite of Chris' however but she is always a good sport:); the special anniversary dance "Everything I Do, I Do For You" for Janice and Mike by Canadian Byran Adams; the amazing dance performance by our American Bandstand couple Co-Captain Ray Vail and wife Pat; and the music that packed the evening and dance floor with favorite group dances like Macerena and Electric slide. But the best part of the whole evening was that a team showed their Captain how much he means to each and everyone of much more than their Captain ever knew, but will now never forget.

Photo Fred Heidemann

Special Thanks to the

Party Committee

Greg Walker - For delivering the Guests of Honor & being their Chauffeur

Lynn Feeks - The Fabulous Decorations, Banner & Decorations Set Up

Mary Lou Bremer - Planning Assistant; Decorations Set Up; & Chris & Gordon's Beverages

Loretta Supplee - Awesome Photo Birthday Cake

Sonja Ring - Who lent her artistic talent in assembling the collages

Dianne Carter - For the Beautiful Gift Wrapping

Joanne Lavoie - All the fantastic cards & signatures, she does such a great job!

Marie Heidemann - Perfect Table Snacks & Room Set Up

Mike Johnson - Room Procurement

Ray Vail - Oakwood Catering & Room Set Up

Fred Heidemann - Photography & DJ Roadie

Nels Christiansen - DJ Extraordinaire & Video Production

John "Jmac" MacPhee - "Kings Roast" & Gift Opening Emcee

Pat Vail - Cake Icer & Room Set Up

Julie & Mike Mitchell & Jane Hoffman - Room Set Up & Clean Up

Coco Christiansen - Party Planner; Gift Procurement; Carrot Cake & Brownies Baker; photos & supplies for collages; Party Supplies; Room Set up; Invitations; Guest List and Funds

And to everyone else that arrived early to help set up and stayed late to help clean up!

Special Contributions:

Special thanks to our sponsor Syfo for their generous donation of their wonderful sparkling beverages for the party and extra t-shirts for new members.

An Extra special heartfelt thanks to a great guy and world traveler who couldn't be at the party but was there in heart and spirit, Bob Morrissette, for his extremely generous donation to the party fund!!  

Special Appreciation to Janice Parsons and Mike Mason for flying down from Nova Scotia for the party, whose presences gave Gordon the best gift of all!

A Birthday Celebration for Two Great Guys Born On The Same Day

February 10th is a special day for our team for 3 reasons. It is the birthday of our great Captain, Gordon Gillis, our great team mate Bill Lupien and it is also Chinese New Year Day! Could it get any better that our Captain and Bill are born on the day that celebrates the Chinese New Year in the country where dragon boat began 2,000 years ago? As we welcome the Chinese year of the black snake, we say goodbye to our first year as a team during which the black dragon was our symbol of power, strength and good luck and what a first year it was for our team.

The team celebrated their birthdays at the Waterfront dock with laughs and hugs (Gordon getting his share from all the lady dragons and his #1, wife Christine) and the team was happy Bill, who has been on leave from paddling due to shoulder surgery, could join us along with Madison, who got plenty of loving too. (Madison is Bill and Jacki's beautiful & sweet Golden Retriever).

The celebration then moved to Panera's where Marie, also in recovery from recent surgery joined the group of Cas & Sharon, Chris & Gordon, Bill Lupien, Bob Levenson (also celebrating his birthday on the 13th), Coco and Joanne for a beautiful morning on the Lake Sumter square . (We miss you Greg...only 10 more sleeps!) Special thanks to the amazing Joanne Lavoie, our birthday fairy and coordinator, whose time and energy to keep track of everyone's special day, plan get togethers, purchase cards, make calls and the rounds on practice mornings to get the team's signatures on all the cards...IS VERY MUCH APPRECIATED! We not only love her as our drummer but for her giving, caring nature.   



Marie, Bill, Gordon and Sonja, who we are sorry couldn't join us, are all recovering from recent surgeries. Dean, who is recovering from illness was not able to be with us and we wish him and all those on "dry land" a speedy recovery.

Bill & Jacki Lupien Host Team Holiday Gathering

December 21, 2012

Two of our favorite and regular hosts for the Black Sheep team socials, Bill and Jacki once again contributed their home and hospitality for a second year to host the annual holiday gathering. While a few team mates were visiting with families up north, a good number attend decked out in holiday attire for a fun evening orchestrated by their entertaining hosts. Hors d'oeuvres and cocktails started the evening with award presentations that followed for the Villages' Challenge Champions.  

Captain Gordon Gillis awarded the team Villages' medals in appreciation for their winning effort on December 7th and the team honored their Captain and leaders with a trophy presentation. Co-Captain Ray Vail passed the Military Trophy from Walgreen's Orlando International Dragon Boat Festival on October 20th, 2012 to steersman Ted Kasubick in honor of his outstanding performance at the Walgreen's races in which the team won the Military Cup, 1st in their A Division semi-final race and Bronze in the A-Division Grand Final.

Christine Gillis presented the Lady Sheep with some bling...a most adorable, sparkling dragon necklace that everyone flipped over.

To her great surprise and delight, webmaster and treasurer Susan Christiansen aka "Coco" (that's me) was blown away by the most beautiful bouquet of flowers she has ever received presented by Coach Greg and Chris, and a dining gift card and team card signed by everyone in appreciation for her contributions to the team. (I'm still reeling guys and looking forward to that Lopez CC dinner!) The evening finished with a fun-competitive (what do you expect from the BSM team?) exchange of gifts in a Yankee gift swap led by Jacki, whose teacher leadership skills surfaced as she conducted the exchange a top her coffee table in her stocking feet! After a few trades back and forth, everyone appeared content with the gift they ended up claiming ( I know I was:) The VistaPrint junkie gave cards and calendars to the team and leaders and the evening ended with stomachs and hearts full. Thank you Bill and Jacki for another wonderful social!

Celebrating Mike Mitchell!

Several Sheep and their spouses/SOs met up at TGIF on December 4th to celebrate our new team member Mike Mitchell's birthday and meet his lovely wife, Julie who then joined the team later that week. That's how we recruit, show them a great time and then have them sign on the dotted line BEFORE one of Greg's practices! And if you missed this was a great time and lots of laughs with Gordon & Chris, Ray & Pat, Mary Lou and Bob, Ed and Dianne, Gene and Jo Ellen, Joanne and Dan, Susan and Nels and our honorees...Mike and Julie. View the party pictures in Sheep Gallery to see just how much fun was had by all! The Sheep welcome this awesome couple to the team and look forward to many more great times with them!   

Grand Masters Dragon Boat Club Picnic

The Black Sheep Marines thank the GMDBC for organizing and hosting an enjoyable picnic at Sea Breeze Recreation Center on Wednesday, November 7th and setting the stage for new friendships and fun. Many participated in pickle ball (our Queen of PB - Sharon), some gave Platform Tennis a try (Ed) and others spent a good deal of the time with their faces buried in the sand (Fred) on the Volleyball court, while others actually played the game (Marie, Susan and Lisa). All enjoyed the abundance of delicious dishes brought to share and the tasty dogs and burgers supplied by the club. Although considered a chilly afternoon by us spoiled cold intolerant Villagers (except one), all in all it was an enjoyable event and another opportunity to exhibit our Disney Gold & Bronze!!  

John and Mary Anne MacPhee

host an impromptu going away party for our Canadian paddlers Mike Mason & Janice Parsons-Nov 1st It may seem like a requirement that to be on the Black Sheep Marines you have to know how to throw a great party because there are no shortages of terrific hosts on the team and John and Mary Anne are certainly two of them! Loved the home, loved the view, loved the pasta, loved the company, loved the neighbors (Bob & Loretta; Ted & Nancy...rings a bell doesn't it, remember Bob & Carol; Ted & Alice!) and loved LuLu! The only thing that could have made the evening better would have been not having to say good bye to our Canadian team mates Janice and Mike. Thank you John and Mary Anne for a delightful evening!

Cody's Toys for Tots - Tuesday, October 30th,2012

With a Halloween chill in the air, and a big beautiful full moon lighting up the evening sky, the Sheep turned out in party numbers for the Toys for Tots benefit at Cody's and for our Canadian paddler Janice Parsons' birthday. With a packed house, great food provided by Cody's and the talented singing DJ Dunning Shaw, a fun night of dancing and celebration was had by all! Thanks to all the Sheep that helped boost the receipts and special thanks to Dennis Faillo and Jack Maiz for their organization of the event and their dedication to the Toys for Tots charity.

Pre-Disney Race Party - October 19th at Bill & Jacki's Home

Thank You Bill & Jacki for another great Sheep gathering on Oct 18th! Exactly what we needed to unwind, relax and fuel up for the Orlando races on the 19th & 20th. Lasagna and dishes brought to pass were superb, house beautiful, warm and inviting and views spectacular! We all appreciated your hospitality!!