Letter from USA Judo President Lance Nading

Nov. 13, 2008, 5:13 p.m. (ET)

Dear USA Judo Members,

I sincerely hope you are as enthusiastic about the future of American judo as I am. As this quadrennium comes to a close I realize we, as an organization, have come a long way in the last four years, again, increasing the services and opportunities afforded our USA Judo athletes, coaches and referees.

  • High Performance Athlete Funds from USOC increased by more than 200%.
  • College scholarship awards to student athletes increased by more than 300%.
  • CEO Jose H. Rodriguez and Athlete Performance Director Ed Liddie helped secure an additional $100,000 in direct athlete support during the 2007-2008 seasons.  Furthermore, the USA Judo Athlete Performance program instituted performance-based funding for athletes who demonstrate success at the international level.
  • Established five USA Judo National Training Sites around the country whose athletes have shown international success, including four top-nine finishes at the 2008 Olympic Games under the coaching leadership of 1992 Olympic medalist Jason Morris - USA Judo's first salaried professional Olympic coach.
  • Created a more media and promotionally receptive image, including an updated logo, a successful Web site that averages more than three million hits per month and had more than 6.5 million hits during the month of the Olympic Games.
  • Through the leadership of Liddie and former World Champion Jimmy Pedro, the USA Judo Elite U-23 Team was established as a training stable for our future Olympic medalists at the 2012 Games in London
  • USA Judo National Team FORCE athlete Ronda Rousey followed her 2007 World Championship silver medal with a bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, making her the first U.S. woman to win an Olympic medal since women's judo was introduced as a medal sport in 1992
  • American judo received exceptional media coverage both leading up to and during the Games, including photo and editorial inclusion on the front page of USA Today, major features in the New York Times and a photo spread in Sports Illustrated.
  • Team USA won more gold medals at the 2007 Pan American Games than any other U.S. Team since 1991. 
  • USA Judo partnered with USA Wrestling for the first time to play host to the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in front of nearly 10,000 spectators in Las Vegas with the event televised nationally on NBC.
  • USA Judo national events are available to be watched by fans around the world through live Webcasts and judo competition at the 2008 Olympic Games was shown live to U.S. fans in its entirety on NBCOlympics.com for the first time ever.
  • USA Judo members receive electronic media coverage of the latest news, events, results and more through e-newsletters as well as the new USA Judo Magazine. 
  • Through the leadership of Pat Burris, USA Judo Coaching Education and Certification Director, USA Judo continues to reach out to our 1,500-member cadre of coaches while also recruiting new men and women to help grow our sport in communities throughout the nation.
  • The future continues to look bright for USA Judo's young athletes through junior programs that allow young players to train and travel against athletes around the world.  The junior high performance program, led by Liddie and Chairman Jim Hrbek, has produced many athletes that have gone on to great success at the senior level, including Kayla Harrison, an 18-year-old Senior National Champion who recently became just the third American to win a Junior World title.

However, we still have far to go to reach the universal goals we all share of significantly increasing national participation of all age and skill levels and achieving consistent international medal success. As judo has become wildly popular throughout most of the rest of the world, judo growth in this country has NOT kept pace. I, with the help of the newly elected Board of Directors, will re-focus our efforts on the growth and exposure of our great sport in the United States of America. A dramatic increase in participation will, of course, breed success and consistency in the international arena and Olympic movement. I am very hopeful that American judo enthusiasts from all judo organizations will come together to eliminate the on-going division of resources and duplication of services. I am committed to finding common ground and to unifying membership services under one structure. With that we WILL have the resources to reach the goals we all share, without that we will stagnate and risk falling even further behind.

I am excited about the composition of the new USA Judo Board of Directors. Included on this Board are four new members who bring a wealth of experience to our organization: Olympic medalist and World Champion Mike Swain; past Group "A" Member Presidents Jim Webb and Noboru Saito; and former Olympic Training Center Resident Athlete Jason Rivera. While new to the Board, both Webb and Saito have held leadership roles as Webb was a former member of the Finance and Budget Committee and Saito was a former Chairman of the Referee Commission. 

In addition to myself, five individuals have reaffirmed their commitment to the organization by returning to the Board for another term.  During the next few years we will be fortunate to have the input of Leo White, a two-time Olympian and former USA Judo Director of Development; Gail Stolzenberg, an officer, member of the Board of Directors and Chairman of various committees since USA Judo was formed in 1980; Kennis Bellmard, a successful attorney and former wrestler; Grace Jividen, a 1992 Olympian; and John Serbin, a former National Champion and World Team member. 

As our 2012 strategic plan takes shape, we will count on your for valuable input. It is vital that our most valuable asset - you the membership - has the representation you deserve. To meet that challenge, the USA Judo Board will be selecting new committees and committee chairs, please visit www.usjudo.org/standing_committees.asp to view our standing committees. If you or someone you know would like to participate and feel you have the qualifications necessary for a particular committee, please forward your resume to JohnsonA@usajudo.us for consideration. The new members of our standing committees will be seated on January 1, 2009. Until then, the committee membership structure that has been in place will continue to function effectively.

Our USOC Sports Partnerships liaison, Jay Warwick took time to meet with the new Board at the U.S. Open in September. The meeting was enlightening and energizing and  we will be meeting back at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs before the end of the year for a working symposium on "Board Training."  We are excited to have the opportunity and are all looking forward to it.

While in Colorado Springs we will have the opportunity to select the new committee structures and begin to chart our course for the next four years. I will look forward to keeping you informed of our progress.

Thank you for the continued hard work that so many of you put forth each and every day to improve USA Judo. I look forward to working with and providing you the necessary tools and services necessary for your continued success.


Lance Nading
USA Judo President