My online name is Water Pokémon Master and I’m the webmaster of PokéBeach, but my real name is Jon Sahagian!
Unlike many fans who have come and gone over the years, I’ve been logging on to the Pokémon fandom every single day since 1998 when I was just 10 years old. I’ve grown up alongside this fandom since its very inception, working at some of the largest Pokémon fan sites of antiquity, moderating their forums, posting news, learning how websites work, and most importantly learning how to lead a team. As a kid I loved to fix electronics and build my own gadgets, and as soon as my family bought our first Gateway computer in 1998, I knew I wanted to make my very own Pokémon website so I could promote this franchise in my own way. I suppose I’ve always loved “building” things, whether gadgets, websites, or even movies and stories, and PokéBeach was just a natural product of that drive.
After I worked at several Pokémon websites in the late ’90s and early ’00s, I began to teach myself HTML and web design and created several early prototypes of PokéBeach at webhosts like Maxpages, Angelfire, and Geocities. There was a lot of trial and error and many isolated nights spent in front of the computer for two or three years, but there was always so much love and support from my family. They didn’t quite understand what Pokémon was, or know exactly what I was doing, but to their relief at least I wasn’t shocking myself with a bunch of 9V batteries or trying to wire the backyard with floodlights connected to power outlets via chicken wire (I might have started a couple of fires while experimenting as a kid). It took at least three years before I was comfortable enough with web design and my own ability to run a website, but by July 15th, 2003, I opened PokéBeach to the public. At the time I was 14 and had just finished 8th grade. As I vowed in the website’s first news post, I would never abandon PokéBeach, and to that end I am still updating this website over a decade later. I’ve always been very dedicated and passionate about what I love, and I think running PokéBeach for this long proves that. And like this website, I’ve grown up over the years too, learning from all the mistakes I’ve made since I was 14 and improving not just the website, but myself. I’m grateful for all my experiences running this website because they’ve pushed me that much farther in real life, where nothing seems challenging or daunting anymore and I know I can pull off anything I want.
Like many others, I was first introduced to Pokémon in the classroom. It was October 1998 and I had just turned 10. I remember being annoyed with all of my classmates because they wouldn’t stop talking about “Pokémon” and “Pikachu.” I wanted to talk about electronics and Star Wars, but they wouldn’t shut up about some Japanese man’s cartoon! I felt like they had all been hypnotized, and although I didn’t know what Pokémon was, I knew I hated it and made that clear to everyone who brought it up. But one day my brothers and I were sitting with our parents and happened to catch the premiere of the Haunter vs. Kadabra episode on UPN. And, to my extreme annoyance, we instantly fell in love with the show. A crazy psychic girl with her creepy doll who turns everyone else into dolls, a mysterious man trying to rescue her, a jokester Ghost Pokémon, Team Rocket hanging off buildings, an emotional ending, the Pokémon world itself – you sure didn’t get any of that in an episode of Full House (nor Pokémon today, unfortunately). We fell in love with the “lore” of it all. The next day I remember trying to write down as many Pokémon names as my classmates knew in an effort to collect them into a directory. I had been “converted.” Not long after, my mom bought my brothers and I Red version. Whether it was in the car, at grandma’s house, at birthday parties, or at the beach, Pokémon was always in tow.
And then my brothers overwrote my save file and murdered my Blastoise.
In the spring of 1999, I was introduced to the Pokémon TCG when my family was vacationing at Palm Springs. A kid showed us to his collection of Pokémon cards by the pool, and I still remember my excitement to see all of Ash’s Pokémon in card form. Despite playing the games and watching the show, we didn’t know there were Pokémon cards, nor did anyone at our school. I asked the kid if he would race me in the pool for his Squirtle card in exchange for Pokédex entries my mom had printed off Pokémon.com. (Paper for paper, right?) I beat him and received my very first Pokémon card. Over the next two days I continued to race him and quickly won all of Ash’s Pokémon: Bulbasaur, Caterpie, Pikachu, Pidgeotto, and Charmander.
After returning home, my mom took my brothers and I to Toys R Us where we bought the newly released Jungle theme decks as well as a bunch of Base Set packs. All I remember getting was an Item Finder and a Kangaskhan from the theme deck. And of course when we went back to school, we told our friends about the card game and gave out some of our booty. (We were total Pokémon trendsetters, of course.) Soon, everyone was buying the cards and smuggling them to school along with their Tamagotchi and Gameboys. Sneaking into our backpacks after school to trade cards or hiding in the bathrooms to battle were everyday occurrences. Over the next few years, my mom, dad, grandma, and great aunt would continue to buy my brothers and I booster packs and use them to reward us whenever we performed well on tests. And it was thanks to their methods and Pokémon itself that I performed so well in school and was instilled with such a strong work ethic.
I learned how to play the TCG through the Pokémon TCG Gameboy game and by going to Pokémon League every weekend with my brothers and friends from school. Although I played in several tournaments with my Rain Dance and Haymaker decks, my very first “serious” tournament was the 2001 West Coast Super Trainer Showdown in San Diego, where I played a Feraligatr Riptide deck. But, being a kid, I decided to drop out of the tournament toward the end even though I was in the top 8! I wanted to play in the tournament’s side activities, which I thought were much more fun and entertaining. The highlight for me is when I got to go on stage and play a “name as many Pokémon as you can in 2 minutes” game. Because I was so used to recording audio tapes with Pokémon trivia and lists, which I would distribute to my classmates, I was able to name all of the Pokémon in National Pokédex order from Bulbasaur to Furret. In the end I won the contest, nabbing half a Neo Revelation booster box and a Mewtwo Returns DVD from the tournament’s host, “King Rara,” who wore a hilarious crown of Pokémon cards. (I can still name all of the old Pokémon in order too, though my memory starts to break up around Slowking.) Some people might think I made the wrong decision dropping out of that tournament, but hey, wouldn’t those cards and the potential trophy just be sitting in storage right now? Creating experiences and memories are more important than prizes that will be broken, lost, and forgotten over time.
The TCG tournaments during those years were always so huge and memorable. There were thousands upon thousands of players from different countries, all excited about Pokémon, all talking about the games, show, and TCG… it’s an experience that no Pokémon event has replicated since then, and it’s something I wish today’s fans could experience for themselves. That was one of my goals when I opened this website in 2003: to promote and spread the “PokéMania” I remembered so fondly from those earlier years. Trying to make it happen again. It was a time when the franchise hit a lull with Wizards of the Coast trying to kill the TCG and the games getting a radical upgrade to the Game Boy Advance, which turned off many fans. Many of the fan sites I was a part of shut down during that time and although the online fandom was not quite a ghost town, it certainly felt like one. So many people left and were never heard from again. In real life, I remember looking around me one day in 7th grade and realizing that I was the only one who still liked Pokémon. Everyone had moved on, but I was still as invested as ever. In looking at some of my forum posts from 2000 to 2003, I was always trying to hatch some scheme to promote Pokémon amongst my peers. Plays in front of the whole school for Spanish class? Let’s be Team Rocket en español. Para proteger el mundo de la devastación!!! Oh I qualify for States for Speech and Debate? Guess I’ll head there with a Pokémon presentation! Pizza party in class? Hey, I have the perfect movie we can watch! Oh now we have boring math class again? Let’s fire up the old N64 emulator on my laptop! Hopefully everyone will be inspired to play the games again! I guess back then I felt like I was left behind. I wanted everyone to come back to the franchise I loved so much so they would enjoy it with me. That’s what always got me excited. Enjoying Pokémon with a group of friends. And of course being productive in the process and always having to “make” something.
My fervor for Pokémon has never weakened since that first Sabrina episode and it’s lead to many great experiences and memories. I’ve interviewed the original director of the show, attended special screenings of the films in Japan before their release, worked with Pokémon officials in the past, and so many other experiences that I can’t even begin to remember them all. And of course I’ve poured my sweat and blood into making PokéBeach the #1 fan source for the Pokémon TCG along with my staff. I don’t think anyone will ever understand how much work, time, and love gets poured into this website. Often it’s a struggle to get projects off the ground. Often running this site isn’t glamorous or fun. Often it interferes with real life. It’s a constant, stressful, and busy lifestyle. But it’s always a labor of love in the end.
In terms of this franchise, my biggest passion is obviously running this website. There are times where I’ve been so excited to share breaking news that I’ve walked out of finals to post news stories from the bathroom, and even times where I’ve run off a film set to do the same thing (Pokémon ruins my life sometimes – there have been so many misadventures – but that’s a whole other story :p). I truly enjoy helping other fans find out more about Pokémon so they can share it with their own friends, thus spreading the PokéMania everywhere and making the community larger and more exciting. Because really, Pokémon would be nothing without the community and the fans. I love Pokémon, its fandom, and the people who visit PokéBeach, and together, I hope we can all keep obsessing over Pokémon until we’re old farts.
Outside of Pokémon, I love to swim and surf (hence “PokéBeach”). In 2007 I graduated magna cum laude from UC Irvine with a double major in literary journalism and film. I currently live on my own and attend USC’s School of Cinematic Arts as a grad student where I’m training to be a film writer and director. I’ve already had a few successes with filmmaking, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: my real dream is make a live action Pokémon film one day. A serious, mature film that captures the original magic and lore of the franchise. When the Pokémon world was still unknown and mysterious like we see in old episodes like Mystery of the Lighthouse. The chances of me getting to make a Pokémon film are probably non-existent, but one can still dream, right? If that time ever comes, I have the script under lock and key too. So maybe in a few decades if I’m an experienced enough filmmaker and Pokémon lets me… We’ll see! :p
Notable PokéBeach Staff
Shining Raikou has been playing Pokémon ever since Red and Blue hit American shores. Over the years he has been a part of many different fan sites, but eventually came to settle at PokéBeach in 2007 because of its commitment to fans and its unusually friendly community (although he loves to brag that he has been reading the front page since 2003).
Aside from the video games, Shining Raikou’s interests in Pokémon include collecting the TCG and other Pokémon merchandise. He is an experienced online salesman and trader, having traded with more than 1,500 fans worldwide in the past 10 years. When he first became part of PokéBeach’s team, he took charge of the Marketplace section and turned it into the largest trading hub for the Pokémon TCG. His influence soon spread to other areas as he brought about new standards for the forums as a whole. After heading several other areas of the forums, he was appointed as a forum administrator in 2010 for showing extreme leadership and drive.
Even in previous real-life endeavors, Shining Raikou has been a leader in several fields. Including college, retail, culinary arts, and business. When Shining Raikou isn’t working on PokéBeach, he runs his own successful home business.
Franco is a competitive TCG player born and raised in Shizuoka, Japan (the area Pallet Town is based on). Although he bought Red and Green when he was 7, his favorite memory is picking up his preordered Silver version on release day in November 1999. At 9 years old, he woke up at 4 AM and biked all the way to a Lawson store in snowy, 10 degree weather only to be met by hoards of Japanese fans fighting to pick up their own copies. The Lawson could not accommodate the demand and many fans were turned away. He also remembers screenings for Mewtwo Strikes Back being so packed that many fans had to stand!
In 2002, Franco’s family decided to relocate to Florida for his father’s translation business. By 2011, Franco picked up the English TCG and was winning tournaments like City Championships and consistently top cutting at Nationals. Franco was first introduced to PokéBeach at the same time, though it was his Japanese friends who showed it to him, stating “This site gets Japanese news before we do!” By 2013, Franco was on PokéBeach’s staff as a translator after getting recruited by WPM. He has always been thrilled to translate for PokéBeach, as it helps out his new American family and his friends back home in Japan get to see his work on the front page. Franco currently attends the University of Central Florida where he is studying accounting and bookkeeping. And of course he still continues to play the TCG competitively.
Ice Arceus started watching the anime religiously and collecting Pokémon cards when the franchise hit the United Kingdom in 1999. But it wasn’t until moving to the U.S. in 2001 that he started diving into the games and battling all his friends on the playground. The vast world presented in the Pokémon games was a major attraction to him and by 2009 he and a team of other online Pokémon fans had worked on their very own fan-made Pokémon game called “Pokémon Ice Version.” The game was based on a rom of Ruby and Sapphire and became wildly popular in underground circles.
After coming across PokéBeach in 2009, Ice Arceus decided to join the forums and partake in its Creative Works section where a lot of other talented Pokémon fans had setup shop. He began climbing the ranks and eventually became a Super Moderator in 2012, followed by the art coordinator for PokéBeach Adventures in 2013. Ice Arceus is currently attending North Carolina State University where he is working his way toward a dental degree. All PokéBeach’s staff thus gets free toothpaste coupons… for a fresh smile. :D
Living in Australia, peer has been engrossed in Pokémon since 1999 when he started playing Pokémon Yellow. As PokéBeach’s system administrator, he oversees the health of the server and usually gets harassed by WPM in the middle of the night to fix server issues. Since graduating from Charles Darwin University, he continually works on learning new techniques to make PokéBeach ahead of the game in terms of speed, technology, and security. peer enjoys cooking, rebuilding and redesigning electronics, and terrorizing his twin cats Tutankhamen and Nefertiti (all programmers gotta have cats!). He planted roots at PokéBeach in 2010 after being recruited by WPM and has loved the community ever since.
Founded by Water Pokemon Master on July 15, 2003!
|Webmaster: Water Pokemon Master|
|Programmer: peer||Social Media: Water Pokemon Master & Shining Raikou|
|Forum Administrator: Shining RaikouForum Super Moderators:||Forum Moderators:
|News Head: Water Pokemon Master||News Staff:|
|Articles Head: Water Pokemon Master||Articles Staff:|
|General Activity Head: Shining RaikouGeneral Activity Organizers:||Video Game Head: To be determined.Video Game Organizers:||Pokemon VG Tutor Head: EquinoxPokemon Video Game Tutors:|
|Chat Room Head: Shining Raikou||Chat Room Moderators:|
|Badges Head: Shining Raikou||Badges Staff:|