2020 has been a year unlike any other. It is one we are likely to remember for a long time, even though I’m sure that many of us would wish to forget it as quickly as possible.
If I were to pick one word among many to describe this year for USATT, I might choose “growth.” 2020 began with USATT on the precipice of being decertified as the NGB for our sport. Having survived that challenge, we, along with the rest of the world, found ourselves in the midst of the pandemic. USATT faced challenges on several different fronts, yet managed to persevere through it all to become a more stable, effective and ethical organization.
Most important, USATT has seated a new board of directors, comprised of strong, competent, and compassionate leaders. With the support of the board, USATT has, among other initiatives:
- Instituted a new membership program
- Planned new state and regional qualification events
- Established a certification program for coaching as well as an online certification for club umpires
- Improved the application process for sanctioning tournaments
- Initiated a Performance Pathway Program for elite athletes
USATT staff and its committees solicited input from stakeholders, engaged with one another to carefully analyze the various issues that needed to be considered, and worked hard to ensure progress during a time when each one of us has faced difficult and deeply personal challenges.
We were also able to innovate by holding T2 Thursday Night Live events, which both benefitted our elite athletes and brought entertainment and a sense of belonging to our members. We are, as we always are, grateful to our athletes, clubs, volunteers, sponsors and our dedicated professional staff.
Behind the scenes, USATT continues to improve its corporate structure and governance so as to ensure we institute best practices and adhere to the highest standards for fairness and transparency. We are particularly proud that we have added more athletes to our decision-making processes. We will continue to improve and to always strive for excellence. And we will build a strong community of support that embraces the value of diversity, inclusion, and belonging.
As an NGB, we are committed to supporting our National Team members to help ensure their success. We are also committed to supporting all of our members by building the infrastructure that can successfully support the development and expansion of table tennis on all levels.
No growth takes place without its attendant pains, and USATT’s growth this past year has been fraught with challenges. We understand that there will always be challenges, and we look forward to embracing them as we continue our path forward. We will continue to grow and improve. We will insist on good governance. We will achieve financial stability and health. And we will deliver on our promise to you to foster our sense of community and to better our sport.
I am grateful for the opportunity to work with all of you, and I look forward to hearing from you and continuing our conversation. As one of my favorite philosophers, Marcus Aurelius so beautifully puts it, "The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way." With that, I thank all of you for the passion you have for our sport and for your active engagement with our growing organization. We cannot succeed without you.
Finally, I want to wish everyone a wonderful holiday season. As we continue to navigate through the uncertainties, let's all hope for a better 2021 and that we may all come together to celebrate the sport we love.