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USATF Annual Meeting: Cooperation and Opportunities

January 2003
George Mathews

This year's Annual Meeting was certainly jam packed with information and activity. I don't have all the details at this writing to comment on some of the more important happenings, but I will deal with some of things that I felt were really significant.

The biggest sense I came away with was a new feeling of cooperation between the various committees within USATF, between each other, the National Office and the Masters Committee. During our joint meeting with the LDR Committee because so many common interest subjects were covered, I began to wonder why we are so separated during the year.

The arrangement of WMA where they have stadia and non-stadia events in the same meet seems to me to be a model that we should be paying attention to. As I posed the question as to why we don't do more of this, there weren't any good reasons brought up to explain why we should do not do more of our track & field and LDR activities together at the same time and place.

The whole meet maybe be greater than the some of the parts. The synergy of our two groups together at a track & field meet should be a natural. I would say that also applies to cross country. This might also apply to road racing if that is to be considered a separate element.

At USATF we are constantly trying to find ways to bring more of these thousands of runners into our program. Maybe more "joint" meets could entice more of these athletes into our meets and create a more meaningful experience for all of us. Hats off to Barbara Kousky for immediately stepping up to consider how we might integrate some LDR events into the 2003 National Masters Outdoor Championships.

I urge all our associations and meet organizers to consider this concept. If you need help overcoming some obstacles, ask for it. We are here to serve.

Another great example of cooperation and opportunities concerns the youth hammer throw. One of our greatest American hammer throwers of modern times ( that would also include Lance Deal), Harold Connolly has decided to spend his time on the development of youth hammer throwing in the United States. He feels the only way we are going to catch up with the rest of the world in this event is start our youngsters out in the event earlier. One of the important elements in his program is to have the hammer throw included in youth track & field, as proposed by Harold at the Annual Meeting.

Unfortunately, the Youth Committee didn't feel it was ready to accept the hammer for a variety of reasons, primarily safety, facilities and coaching.

The rule addition was tabled until next year. A task force committee with representatives from all parts of USATF was set up to identify safe facilities and coaching opportunities for youth hammer throwers. Since masters hammer throws are really in a similar position as youth when it comes to finding safe facilities and coaching, I think we are in a great position to help in this project. We have found many of these opportunities and hopefully will be willing to help in this project. I think so much of this task that I am the task force leader.

More will follow on this, but in the meantime please start sending your ideas and opportunities. The youth committee has agreed to be problem solvers instead of problem stoppers on this subject.

With the joint cooperation of our various committees we have a great opportunity to make great impact on our sport. I hope you will all want to be part of this!

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