Masters Track & Field
Chair Report - September 2006
We have all had a little time to reflect on what happened at our National Championships in Charlotte in August. There were many forces working against us during this meet. The biggest one, of course, was Mother Nature. She can be very difficult to deal with when it comes to running a complicated meet like our National Championships. The saving heroes of this Champion-ships were the officials and your Games Committee, comprised of the following: meet leader, Games Committee Vice Chair Carroll De Weese, Rex Harvey, Becky Sisley and Dick Hotchkiss. Sandy Pashkin, our ex-Games Commit-tee Chair, also served as consultant to the Games Committee. I represented the Masters Committee. We had the best group of officials ever assembled for any of our masters meets and maybe any USATF meet, period. They were led by Coordinator of Officials Tony Wayne and his outstanding groups of referees. Relentless Efforts No group has ever put out as much for a meet as these two groups did. I could go on and on to describe the countless hours and decisions in which these people were involved. I will describe some of the significant actions and decisions that I believe saved the meet. It began on Wednesday, the day before the start of the meet. The Games Committee met for many hours refining the schedule. This isnt unusual after we get the final entries, but it is time-consuming. We presented the revised schedule to the meet organizers and asked that it be reprinted. They said they couldnt afford this expense, so we went out and bought paper and started the reprint ourselves. Heat Advisory On Thursday around noon the meet was stopped by the campus police and the Charlotte Fire Department. Besides the heat advisory that we didnt know about, the paramedic and trainer on site were overwhelmed with over 40 people who needed care. We subsequently were advised that the meet organizer was told in advance that one paramedic was not enough to cover a meet of this size. I negotiated with the police and fire chief to stop the meet until 7 p.m., and to suspend the meet from 1 p.m. until 7 p.m. if a heat advisory should be called on Friday. The heat advisory was called, and we had to adjust to this six-hour delay on Friday. The police and fire department stipulated that we must provide more ice, water and electrolytes for our participants and that we must have a medic ambulance on site for the remainder of the meet. The meet organizer reluctantly agreed to provide more water, ice and some electrolytes for the officials, but not electrolytes for the athletes. The Games Committee went out and purchased 800 bottles of Gatorade for the athletes. Medical Aid I advised the meet organizer that he had to contract the medic ambulance for the rest of the meet. He said he didnt have the money for that. I told him that he had to for the safety of the participants. By 4 p.m. that afternoon, when he hadnt made contact with the medic unit, I contracted with them for the rest of the meet. Happily, this $100/hr. service was provided to us at no charge. Revised Schedule The Games Committee had to work non-stop to revise the schedule for Thursday evening, and the officials had to come back and work until after midnight to finish Thursdays schedule. Then the Games Committee had to rework and print up a new schedule for Friday. We started Friday and the revised schedule was working well until a lightning storm arrived around 8:30 p.m., and we had to stop the meet and evacuate the stadium to the parking garage. After 30 minutes, we realized the storm wasnt moving and were forced to call the meet for the evening. The Games Committee worked through the night revising the schedule again to make up what was lost on Friday night and get Saturday completed by 7 p.m. The athletes who missed events because of the lightning were asked to report to the stadium Saturday morning to see the new schedule. Overnight, the Games Committee posted the new schedule in the dorms and the hotel. We were advised by Tony Wayne that for the safety of his officials we should go to four attempts in the throws. Safety First Even though our rules say the championships shall consist of three preliminary attempts and three final attempts, safety trumps all rules, and we agreed, for the safety of the officials, to go with four attempts, with no finals, in the throws and horizontal jumps. I personally didnt love it, since my hammer competition was affected. But, so be it. Actually, most of the athletes liked the rolling schedule that was developed, and competing in the evening. We are looking for more evening competition and shorter days, particularly for the officials; 12- and 18-hour days are too much for anyone. Divided Banquet Fortunately, the only other surprise we had on Saturday was that the Organizing Committee decided, without Masters Committee approval, to put our officials in a separate building for the Banquet. No entertainment or ceremony for the people who served us so well. They couldnt go to the other building after eating, because of a tremendous rain and lightning storm. Your Games Committee split up with half being with the athletes and the other half being with the officials. Lack of Ice and Fluids I thought Sunday was going well, until I was advised that they were out of electrolyte drinks and running out of ice. I advised the meet organizer that I would stop the meet again for safety reasons if this wasnt taken care of immediately. The track coach responded with Power Aide powder, and because of no response on the ice, we were forced to go out and buy 79 bags of ice. The regular three qualifying and three final attempts were restored for most of Sundays competition. Medal Ceremonies Shortly after noon an athlete reported to me that they were not having the medals ceremony. I asked the meet director about it, and he said he had volunteers and didnt understand it. I immediately went down to see what was going on and found three volunteers completely overwhelmed with the heat and the task at hand. The Games Committee jumped in with the fantastic assistance of Marilyn Mitchell and completed the awards process. The meet director did come down and give us some assistance. Unfortunately, while I was down in that area I had the sad experience of trying to use one of the four porta potties, all of which were filled up and obviously hadnt been pumped. Transportation The only other unusual problem, besides the normal tremendous paper work that had to be completed, was that the Games Committee had to shuttle to the cafeteria, which was a significant distance away, and stranded senior athletes who were abandoned at the dorms when the meet organizer let the shuttle people go home. Other than that things were great. I think most athletes got what they came for. Thank you, again, Officials and Games Committee. Resignation I must also report that at the Executive Committee meeting we had on Friday, I tendered my resignation effective at the close of the Annual Meeting in December. I asked the Executive Committee to have an election to select my replacement. I must say I have had mostly fun for almost six years, but have made the decision to simplify my life. I am starting a new business and want to spend more time with my lovely wife, Kate, my children and grandchildren. I havent been home for my wifes birthday, Dec. 2, in 15 years. Several people in our organization have been aware of my decision long before this meeting. It has nothing to do with some recent elected officer difficulties. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you.
(George Mathews can be contacted by e-mail here.)