Boise Meet and Masters Strategic Plan
Our 2005 USA Masters Indoor Track & Field Championships in Boise, Idaho, is in the books. I believe most competitors had a great experience and will return in the future if the Local Organizing Committee, as they seem inclined, bids for 2008. I, for one, hope they do.
We had many fantastic performances which I will leave for the National Masters News to report. Congratulations to one and all!
Having this meet return to the West after a long absence really helped athletes in this part of the country who have been unable to travel to the East Coast for various reasons. We had a first-class venue and experienced meet management to put on this important meet. Not that it was without some problems, but, overall, it went well.
Any time you hold a meet of this magnitude for the first time, there will be some kinks. They were worked out, and hopefully everyone was satisfied. The more times we have a meet at the same venue, the better it gets. We have witnessed this in Boston over the years.
Many thanks to Sandy Pashkin and the Games Committee for once again doing a tremendous job overseeing the conduct of the meet.
The event also featured our first official club scoring. There seemed to be a great amount of competition between the clubs. We hope to see all athletes participating and competing for their clubs in the future. This would include club uniforms, I hope. Congratulations to all who competed as a club member.
Maybe the most important event prior to this meet was the first of two strategic planning meetings by the Masters Committee Executive Board. Board members in attendance were Becky Sisley, Suzy Hess, George Mathews, Ray Feick, Bob Fine, Mark Cleary, Ken Weinbel, and Sandy Pashkin. The meeting were facilitated under the fantastic professionalism of Todd Taylor. Also in attendance were NMN Editor Jerry Wojcik, and Dick Hotchkiss, Masters Weight Event Coordinator.
This group worked for over seven hours behind closed doors, to formulate the initial strategic plan for USATF Masters Track & Field. I want to thank them for all their hard work.
I will attempt to present a synopsis of this activity. The complete document will appear on the Masters page of the USATF Web site. Please feel free to provide any input you may have to this process.
Strategic Planning Process
Stage One: Creating a mission statement. Our proposed new mission statement is as follows: To provide and promote safe, quality, lifetime competitive opportunities for masters athletes at all levels and recognize their accomplishments and practice diversity in all levels of our activities.
Our organizational structure was identified as Governance, Competitions, Recognition and Promotion. Components of each were defined.
An Environmental Scan and SWOT Analysis was developed. The following internal Strengths and Weaknesses within our operating environment were the result of this activity.
Strengths: Lifetime sport-health and wellness recognition; quality of volunteers; service provided by USATF; organizational structure in place for Masters Track & Field; recognition programs for athletes; National Masters News; high quality of national events; support for international competition (WMA).
Weaknesses: Financial dependence on USATF; access to facilities for practice and meets; general public awareness; strong and active marketing; membership growth; utilizing membership resources-skills and finances; cooperation with other organizations (National Senior Games, etc.); grass roots programs (clubs, etc.); alliance with youth programs; variation among associations and regions.
As the starting point for development of priorities and action plans to move USATF masters forward, several critical issues were isolated that must be addressed to ensure continued survival, market positioning and prominence.
Finances: Be in a position to be financially independent from the internal funding structure of USATF by increasing the amount and number of sources for outside funding of programs and activities. Masters Track & Field must be able to leverage the advantages of its association with USATF, but not be forced to abandon programs and activities desired by masters members due to changing or shifting priorities of USATF.
Marketing: A strong and active marketing program must be developed that creates general public awareness of Masters Track & Field, while also promoting and publicizing our competitions and activities. The program must build a value statement which will cause commercial investment in our mission.
Grass Roots Programs: Encourage local associations and regions to actively promote and recognize opportunities for Masters Track & Field.
Clubs: Encourage member participation in clubs and promote inter-club championships at the association and regional levels.
Associations: Encourage and provide support resources to associations to ensure that association championships are held.
Goals, Objectives and Strategies
In the limited time frame available, only two critical issues were addressed: finances and marketing. In order to complete the plan, there must be an assigned accountability, or a manager for each strategy with an associated timeframe for completion and key tasks or milestones to be achieved.
Goals: (1) Become financially independent from USATF within one to three years, and (2) increase the number and amount of external funding resources.
Objectives and Strategies: (1) Obtain an additional $25,000 within one year (FY 2006) to meet the projected budget gap; (2) secure a title sponsor for both indoor and outdoor national championships; (3) generate an additional $70,000/yr. revenue through a $10 increase in USATF masters membership fees; (4) solicit the membership for additional funding, especially through the use of endowments and insurance gifting; (5) in addition to title sponsors for national events, secure corporate sponsors for general funding and specific activities, e.g., BENGAY, masters invitational program, rankings, etc.; (6) solicit the membership for specific contacts within corporations for funding; and (7) leverage USATF national office expertise for financial opportunities.
Goals: (1) Increase general public awareness about USATF masters, and (2) increase media publicity about USATF masters at the national, regional and local levels.
Objectives and Strategies: (1) Develop and distribute a masters-specific media kit for local and regional promotion and publicity; (2) position and write articles for national publications in general and masters athlete demographics; (3) cooperative mailing programs with other associations and organizations; e.g., AARP, YMCA, 24-Hour Fitness, etc.; (4) develop a speaker's kit for use by members at service clubs, e.g., Rotary, Kiwanis, etc.; (5) increase exposure at local running stores; (6) appoint an experienced marketing professional member/volunteer to lead this initiative. This is all we could accomplish in the limited period of time.
The Executive Board will be working on what we have so far and will finish the plan at our next meeting in Honolulu on Aug. 3.