This past week I traveled to Orlando, Florida to attend the Disney Field Hockey Showcase, and participate in the first USA Field Hockey Board of Directors meeting for 2010 . The Disney Field Hockey Showcase, which was originated around three years ago through a collaborative effort between administrators of USA Field Hockey and the Disney Wide World of Sports (now known as the ESPN Wide World of Sports), is just Disney-esque terrific. Twenty-three hundred athletes plus an unknown number of assembled parents, umpires, coaches, and on-lookers gathered on the mid-Florida Disney campus to watch athletes demonstrate their talents to prospective college coaches.
While some folks may think these collegiate recruiting events just magically happen; that just isn't the case. Planning an event of this size takes months of in-depth preparation. Long - time (20 year) USA Field Hockey Director of Event Logistics K.C. Collins is the person who undertakes the major burden of this event. K.C. devotes work time and considerable private time worrying about and dealing with every detail needing attention (I often see her at the office on weekends in preparation mode). K.C. also has what seems to be a cast of thousands helping. Not only did national office staff pitch in (thank you David, Laura, Jeff, and Simon), but a large cadre of volunteers worked through set up, implementation of the event itself, and tear down. The tear down part is not glamorous at all.
So, thanks to K.C. and to everyone else* taking time away from their day to day norm to allow young athletes the chance to receive collegiate recognition, and maybe even a full ride scholarship to attend a prestigious university with a field hockey program.
*There is a special group of people that participate in these events and from my observation just did a "beyond the call of duty" job. The umpires. They were great. Rene Zelkin provided organization to the entire umpire effort at Disney, and 75 umpires were on hand to officiate throughout the week. Not only do our umpires provide top shelf service, but they do much of it on their own dime. The sacrifices umpires make are often taken for granted. But, fair umpiring/officiating is key to maintaining the creditability of a sport ...and, Rene and her group did a superb job.
Toward the conclusion of the Disney Field Hockey Showcase, the USA Field Hockey Board of Directors met in Orlando for the first of three scheduled meetings for 2010. Over the years, I have had involvement with four national governing bodies plus the United States Olympic Committee, and, believe me, I have seen all sort of conduct during Board meetings. You would have been proud of your organization if you had observed this USA Field Hockey board meeting. The entire effort was collegial, had a relaxed air, and much constructive conversation took place. The people serving you on the board are bright, articulate, and have a thirst for the information we gather in the national office so progressive decision making can take place. I have not seen that sort of behavior at times in other organizations and I have heard in the wind that has not always been the case here. But it certainly was this past weekend in Orlando. To orchestrate a meeting, a person with strong organizational skills needs to be in place. Our chair, Jim Johnson, has those skills and directed the meeting in an efficient manner; very businesslike; and very upbeat. I was impressed... with all the board members and the other participants in the meeting.
Next week I will provide a more in-depth review of last weekend's board meeting.
Last Wednesday new United States Olympic Committee (USOC) CEO Scott Blackmun met with the 23 Colorado Springs based National Governing Bodies (NGBs) of sport CEOs/executive directors during the afternoon and into the evening. The purpose was to re-establish a comfort level between the NGBs and the USOC. It is well known that this past year has had its set of USOC based difficulties, to say the least. Generally the NGBs have been unhappy with the USOC leadership and that unhappiness found its way into the media frequently. What is great about Scott is that he is actually one of us. His personality is welcoming, receptive, and naturally drawn to developing athletes and Olympism..which is what we are all about as we deal with the USOC. He knows how to collaborate, and he knows that the NGBs are the principal customer of the USOC. Here are some thoughts he brought forth last Wednesday:
1. He feels it is important to begin exploring possibilities of bundling NGB events within USOC sponsor proposals (i.e. offering up to sponsors greater exposure through NGB events and revenue sharing with the NGBs involved). Great concept!
2. International relations are important in sport and an area that needs to be shored up. A recent prime example of what happens when international relationships are not working well was when we lost embarrassingly so in Chicago's bid last year to host the Olympic Games in 2016. USOC will be working with the International Olympic Committee to improve relations in a number of areas plus work with the NGBs to continue developing good relations with their international federations; like ours the FIH.
3. In the long term, the USOC will pay particular attention to trends associated with revenue development. It is evident that corporate sponsorships are shrinking, and perhaps other avenues of revenue stream development need greater emphasis or exploration. Giving programs probably need a greater emphasis, and the possibility of governmental funding needs to be explored.
Scott is a great addition to the USOC. His experience in event production, both domestically and internationally, is a big plus in addition to his experience as a collegiate athlete (a soccer goalkeeper at Rutgers) add to his creditability.
From Late Night with Jimmy Fallon: " The Israeli army is planning to give its soldiers special new socks that can be worn for two weeks straight without smelling. In other words, they created the socks my college roommate thought he had."
Have a great week!