Carroll to Receive Connect Sports Volunteer of the Year Award

Aug. 18, 2014, 4:07 p.m. (ET)

Carroll to Receive Connect Sports Volunteer of the Year Award

USA Weightlifting is excited to announce that Debbie Carroll is the 2014 recipient of the prestigious Connect Sports Tourism Excellence Award for Volunteer/LOC of the Year.

Carroll (Salt Lake City) will receive the award during a ceremony at the Connect Sports Conference Aug. 21-24 in Orlando, Fla., after a unanimous vote from an awarding committee that includes representatives of multiple sports. Collinson Media will host the conference at the Marriott World Center.

The board president of Utah LWC, the state’s official organization in the sport, Carroll helped organize the 2014 USA Weightlifting National Championships in Salt Lake City. That event featured more than 400 competitors and 200 coaches from across the United States, making it the largest USA Weightlifting National Championships ever.

Carroll ascribed a relentless work ethic from everyone involved in the operation of the national event as the reason for its tremendous success.

“I feel like I’m accepting this on behalf of Utah,” Carroll, who won four national championships and two world championships at the masters level before retiring from competition in 2011 and taking on an administrative role in the sport, said. “I feel humbled in being singled out as the one to go and accept it, but this was a joint effort.

“When I met with USA Weightlifting and the Utah Sports Commission to accept this bid, they’d typically given the bid to one club and had that club be the one contact for the local area. We said we wanted to do this as the whole state of Utah, that the state of Utah wanted to be the sponsor and the host for the event. They said that it had never been done before and weren’t sure if it would work, but I just kept pushing for it, saying we wanted to do this as a whole state.

“Since the sport was so small here so very recently, we all know each other; we know each other from Logan, which is at the very north end of the state, all the way to St. George, which is at the south end. We all go to the same competitions, we all communicate with each other on the Internet and we’re all very good friends.”

For 10 months prior to the July event at the Grand America resort, the state’s first sports competition there since the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, Carroll and her team planned all the intricacies of the national championships with USA Weightlifting.

“They really wanted to make this a great event, so they put a lot of support and a lot of care behind it,” Carroll said of USA Weightlifting’s efforts. “For Utah LWC, this was our first event, so it was really meaningful to us, too. I think that partnership really worked.

“When we were selecting the venue, (USA Weightlifting Director of Events and Programs) Phil (Andrews) and I had a very clear vision of what this event needed to be, and it was the same vision. We had really high standards and really high goals for this.”

All the preparatory work proved to be invaluable.

On the competitive side, the event featured a large contingent of record breakers, including teenage superstar C.J. Cummings’ Senior American record for the clean and jerk in the 62kg category (153kg).

From a logistical standpoint, the event featured the largest group of volunteers ever at a USA Weightlifting National Championships, Carroll said.

“Everybody absolutely came together,” she said. “We I told everyone we got the bid, we just had an outpouring of support. Everyone was so excited, and everyone really maintained that enthusiasm all along.

“Utah is special in that the volunteer spirit is really big here. People do things because they care, and that’s what we found with our event.

“The weightlifting community here really cares about this sport, so everyone wanted to really pitch in and help. And when Utahans pitch in, they take off four days of work and volunteer from dawn until midnight every day.”

Now, as Carroll prepares to accept the award on behalf of her state at the Connect Sports Conference, she is pleased to grasp the level of appreciation the sports community has shown for her state’s efforts.

“This award means that we did it right,” Carroll said. “None of us did this for a reward; we did this because we love the athletes and love the sport, and we wanted to serve and show we care in that way.

“But it certainly is nice to have somebody say back that we really did it right and did it well.”

USA Weightlifting would also like to recognize and thank its other meet directors in 2014, including: John Filippini, Cara Heads and the Maryland-Potomac Valley LWC for their efforts in Washington, D.C.; Joaquin Chavez and High Desert Athletics for their efforts in Albuquerque, N.M.; Tom Bennett and Team Florida Volusia County for their efforts in Daytona Beach, Fla.; Butch Curry, Chandler Walker, Stone Age Fuel Barbell and Calvera Barbell for their efforts in Reno, Nev.; and Paul Fleschler and Front Range WLC for their efforts in Aurora, Colo.