Val Zeese and Toby Hamlin both work at Excelsior College. Outside of work, they share a similar sentiment and are huge Star Trek fans. Over the summer, they both attended their first Star Trek Convention. Today, Excelsior Life shares Val and Toby’s Passionate Pursuits story.
Val and John De Lancie
Excelsior Life: How long have you been a Star Trek fan? Zeese: I believe 40-50 years, give or take.
Hamlin: For me, since I was about 10 years old.
Excelsior Life: How did you find out you were both fans? Hamlin: Our first outing together was about four years ago for a special showing of two digitally re-mastered episodes of Star Trek: Next Generation at Crossgates Mall in Albany, NY.
Excelsior Life: What made you decide to attend the Star Trek convention?
Zeese: I had always wanted to go to the convention. I think it’s a dream of every Trek fan.
Hamlin: It was something I always wanted to attend. It wasn’t until I realized that Val always wanted to go, that we both decided to make it happen. Since we couldn’t afford the cruise, we decided to go to one of several nationwide conventions (New Jersey), all celebrating the 50th anniversary of the original series.
Michael Dorn, Worf on Next Generation and Deep Space 9 with Toby (left) and Val (right).
Excelsior Life: What did you look forward to the most at the convention?
Zeese: The ambiance, meeting the stars, having fun with the fans, being at the bar with stars and fans!
Hamlin: Getting costumed out and meeting other people who are also long-time fans.
Excelsior Life: Do you have a favorite Trek character?
Zeese: There’s no way I can have a favorite; I like them all for different reasons. I heard Nana Visitor speak about her role on Deep Space Nine and the energy she put into it (good energy). It made seeing her character even more special.
Hamlin: I can’t even try to narrow down to one; they are all special for different reasons.
Toby, William Shatner and Val.
Excelsior Life: Did you hope to meet any Star Trek celebrities?
Zeese: We did see/meet Bill Shatner. It’s very difficult, I would suppose, to have such a fan base. He doesn’t say much, if anything, one-on-one. On stage was another story…he was “on” and answered questions sincerely and candidly.
Meeting John DeLancie (Q) was the BEST. I was able to speak to him four times and he remembered me and joked around too. I’ve watched him on different things for many years.
Hamlin: Yes, along with Walter Keonig (Mr. Chekhov), LeVar Burton (Lt. Commander Georgi LaForge) and Michael Dorn (Lt. Worf), we were also able to talk with some of the other stars from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek Voyager.
Excelsior Life: I understand, CBS Television Studios will launch a new Star Trek television series in January 2017. What are your thoughts?
Zeese: I’ve heard different things and I’m not sure what I’ll think if I see it.
Hamlin: Well this time it will be on CBS/Netflix streaming, not regular TV. I’ll be opened minded about it. I didn’t think I would like Next Generation, after watching the original series for so long; I ended up loving it along Deep Space Nine.
Editor note: Northeast Trek Con will be held November 11-13 at the Albany Radisson Hotel. For more information, visit northeasttrekcon.com