This is my first day back in the office from the extended chain of events that comprised our U.S. Open and Para Open in Milwaukee and the three city tour organized to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Ping Pong Diplomacy.
To me the last two weeks were a daily series of worry points and timelines and coordination. How did WE do what was needed. First, we had gathered dedicated and talented folks in Milwaukee, San Francisco and at the Nixon Library. Then each person within their particular area of expertise was allowed to rise to the occasion and contribute above and beyond expectations. Sounds like a simple formula but we all depended on one another from start to finish.
Milwaukee set the standard for volunteers and pulled together the community to the extent possible. We pulled In the Mayor and civic leaders, SPiN Milwaukee, the Chicago Chinese Consul General, we staged a pre-camp for our Para athletes in Shorewood, staged a 600+ participant U.S. Open, an 80+ participant Para Open that involved 25 nations and along the way staged a USATT Board Meeting, a recreation level event with a coaching clinic and not one but two Ping Pong Diplomacy events (one at the Milwaukee Art Museum that featured Olympians Bonnie Blair and Randy Dean as speakers along with a playing/performance by Frank Caliendo and the other at the Frontier Airlines Center). MOOCOW, led by Linda Leaf, Mike Jenders, Mike Bernhard (et al) did a wonderful job throughout. We also hurriedly organized a van caravan to go to Chicago to pick up the Chinese PPD delegation when their flight out of Beijing resulted in missed connections in Chicago. There were sightseeing tours in Milwaukee, Brewer’s Stadium, the Harley-Davidson Museum, shopping and a full day tour of the U. of Wisconsin at Madison. Our Chinese friends spoke about the hospitality they felt from the people in Milwaukee. Ross Brown was stellar!
The PPD tour continued to SF with 5 high level VIPs joining the delegation all from the Chinese Olympic Committee. The Mayor had arranged a six motorcycle police escorted bus from the hotel to the Wharf area where 32 of 36 nations had their General Consuls present to enjoy an Asian buffet and watch the city’s fireworks display up close and personal the evening of July 4th. The Mayor of SF, Mayor Lee, is of Chinese ethnicity and he organized a press conference and the Chinese General Counsel staged a dinner for 200 folks the evening of the 5th. The last full day in SF saw the staging of a coaching clinic through the Palo Alto TT Club that involved a Chinese coach and two of their junior athletes as demonstrators. The day concluded with a full PPD Exhibition at Stanford’s Maples Pavilion. Special thanks to Anne Cribbs of the Bay Area Sports Organizing Committee and to our own Dennis Davis for their heroic efforts in SF.Then it was off to LA and two days at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda. The first evening there was an informal BBQ that was led by Ed Nixon, President’s Nixon’s younger brother (the brotherly resemblance was very evident). Sandy Quinn, Anthony Curtis and Chris Nordyke organized a wonderful exhibition on July 8 in the East Room of the Nixon Library that was followed by a reception/dinner at the LA Chinese General Consul’s offices.
Everyone made their flights home and we owe a special thanks to our PPD ’71 vets, Judy Hoarfrost, Tim Boggan, George Braithwaite (David Sakai filled in for Dell and Connie Sweeris who were unable to take part due to the sudden death of Dell’s mother) as well as to the elite and junior USATT athletes that played against Chinese reps along the way. We tried to be inclusionary throughout the tour to involve as many USATT members as possible.
This started out as a simple thank you note but it has expanded beyond that. One important measure of our success was that originally the Chinese had invited a USA delegation to China as part of the reciprocity trip for the 40th Anniversary Celebration of PPD for three days in November. While in SF that invitation changed to a nine day, three city tour in December in China. Hmmmmmm – ours was a nine day, three city tour - coincidence? I don’t think so. I’m convinced that they were delighted with the level of treatment they received and experienced in Milwaukee, San Francisco and at the Nixon Library.
I hope that you all can share in the pride I feel for all of you on a job well done. If anyone visits Colorado Springs, my home is your home! I apologize to anyone I have left out of this communication as clearly there are many others deserving of a thank you!