President's Report

July 08, 2009, 2:22 p.m. (ET)

To:                      The Pentathlon Community

From:                   Atif Siddiqi, President - USA Pentathlon

Subject:               President's Report

Date:                   July 4, 2009

As I look over the last six months I am amazed about the progress we have made in re-establishing this National Governing Body.  Looking over the last statement to the community we have accomplished many things including:

  • Appointment of Brad Camp as our Chief Executive Officer
  • Approval of our 501c3 status (March 2009) and development of our website to include policies, procedures and other documentation
  • Election and appointment to the Board, as a full director, our Athlete Advisory Council representative, Monica Fling Roland
  • Hosting the US Nationals, NORCECA, and Open championships in Palm Springs, CA
  • Senior athletes competing around the world and youth and junior athletes heading towards their respective world championships.

While serving as President and interim CEO, I and the Board of Directors have had to take on managerial responsibilities and without their tireless efforts, with no benefits, none of what we have accomplished would have been possible.

Three people come especially to mind, Elaine Cheris, Joachim Sacksen, and William Stettinius. These Board members passionately believe in the future of this sport in the United States and were instrumental in forming this National Governing Body.  Elaine was instrumental in making sure the US Nationals ran as smoothly as they did with the Local Organizing Committee. Joach setup camps at the OTC, updated the website, and made sure that I submitted the athlete entry forms on time so that I did not cause international incidents! Willie was instrumental in managing the CEO selection process and making sure we accomplished this task on time. All three are committed to youth development. The Board thanks them for everything they have done.

The reason why I am recognizing their efforts for individual praise is that, as of September 1, 2009, all three have decided to step aside from the Board of Directors. It is with regret that I have accepted their resignations but I understand the reasons they have given me.  This Board and community need them and look forward to their continued service and participation within the pentathlon family.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind our community of the principles that this Board and the CEO are united and committed to:

  • Youth, Junior, and Senior development - bringing new athletes into the sport and working with them as their pentathlon career progresses
  • Membership development - bring new and existing members back into USA Pentathlon, and recognized those that have already given so much to the sport
  • Fundraising, media, financial stewardship - develop and maintain multiple revenue streams and manage those funds effectively. Increase the profile of our sport in the mainstream media
  • Governance - maintain institutions, policies and procedures that are free from actual or perceived conflicts of interest
  • Athlete performance - performance driven funding and the resources and encouragement they need to achieve their goals

I was reminded of many of these principles at the recent US Nationals. It was great to see so many American youth, junior and senior athletes.  This tells me that there is already significant interest and talent base present.  We must focus on capturing, supporting, and promoting their hopes, dreams, and personal development. 

Re-building pentathlon has not been without its considerable challenges; it has tested our managerial and governance skills daily. People have demanded the best from us and we demand it from them in return.  The hardest part of this role is saying 'no'.  While on a personal level we all want to give everything that everyone wants, we cannot, and frankly, should not. The responsibility of a successful National Governing Body is to balance the reasonable needs of all of its stakeholders and not merely its loudest voices. We have a duty to maintain a sustainable model, not one that harks back to the so-called glory days, but one that is efficient and self-sustaining.

With regards to the concept of 'transparency', it is a concept that is often quoted but poorly understood.  Transparency does not mean having all members involved in all discussions and meetings. That concept is not even mentioned on our U.S. Constitution; since our founding fathers understood governance would become impossible. What the Constitution believes in is accountability:  leaders accountable to their constituents.  An organization free of conflict, driving toward a common goal, together.   These are the same concepts this Board, management, and coaching staff embrace; accountability to the community, athletes and the community who are also accountable to each other and the NGB.  This is the triangle that links us together and, without it, that cycle of trust is broken.

What does this mean in practice? It means more public hearings as a part of our board meetings (beyond USOC requirements), audited financial statements, annual meetings (our first is tentatively scheduled  for November 2009), athlete performance and funding standards, continued improvement of our selection standards and many, many, other things that will continue to improve our performance.

This sport is not about individuals. It's about all of us.  We must do the right thing, at all times, regardless of the consequences or political expediency. This is a concept easy to quote, but in practice much harder to follow when individuals cannot always get what they demand.

I don't want to spend this entire report talking about our challenges.  I want to remind everyone of all that we have accomplished. I want to highlight the terrific performances, in Mexico, Hungary, Rome, Palm Springs, and great performances to come in Taipei, Cairo, and the London Championships!  I have learned so much about this sport and loved spending time getting to know our athletes and local and international community over the last six months.

USA Pentathlon needs you. We need everyone to volunteer some time and continue to support our initiatives. We need you to become involved. Reach out to us, let us know you are interested and tell us what you want to do - for example, we will be forming subcommittees, such as development, fundraising, equestrian, etc.

As I write this on our nation's birthday and as the newest addition to the American family (I became a US Citizen in 2007), I feel very, very passionately that pentathlon in the United States can and should take its rightful place on the national and world stage.  USA Pentathlon can be the greatest in the world, I truly believe this! There is absolutely no reason why we cannot be a major player and the steps we are taking and will continue to take over the months and years will justify the trust and support you have given us.

I feel passionately that our best days are ahead of us and will lead to regular podium finishes at all levels including the London 2012 Olympic Games. The proudest day in my life will be watching and singing (badly) the United States national anthem for a pentathlon gold medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games.  All of us will be instrumental in making that come true!