Hightower, McNees speak following Closing General Session


Tom Surber
Media Information Manager
USA Track & Field

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The 2010 USA Track & Field Annual Meeting concluded Sunday morning with the Closing General Session and following that event USATF Chairman and President Stephanie Hightower and Interim CEO Mike McNees expressed their views about what was achieved at the Annual Meeting and the future of USATF.

Stephanie Hightower

Q: What are your thoughts about this year's Annual Meeting?

A: I feel people walked away feeling rejuvenated. I've heard from many people who said that this is one of the first Annual Meetings where they came and heard things, and they talked to the board members. We got so many compliments from the constituency members who came to the coffee and tea sessions (with USATF Officers and Board Members) and said this is fantastic to see the Board up there, to have them answer questions directly and honestly, and there was that level of transparency and they just felt good about it. I feel good when our membership feels good about what they're doing.

Q: With the membership leaving Virginia Beach with a new energy, what do you think that will propel the organization to next year?

A: I think what that does is, number one, we've got to deliver on the things that we said we were going to deliver on. So my hope is that based on what we heard here we can have some short term successes so that we can keep our constituency inspired and motivated. So we want to try, within the next probably 60 days, have some quick successes that they can really sink their teeth into something tangible, and we're hoping that through the years that the things that we learned and found out and worked on here and throughout the year, they'll be those pieces to keep them motivated. They're the ones working at ground zero and we have to keep them motivated and inspired to help grow the sport.

Q: What are the biggest challenges facing USA Track & Field in the year to come?

A: I think, always right now, it's the issue of resources, and being able to maintain the level of services and programming that we have. We are a resilient bunch and I am confident that, while there may not be a bunch of money out there, that especially our Youth Committee will find resources and people. We know these people are generous as all get out, and they dig in their own pockets sometimes when they shouldn't. I think our athletes are figuring out that they have to be more professional, our elite athletes, and they have to be resourceful in their own ways to figure out how they can sustain their lifestyle so that they can keep competing. So even though it's a challenge, at the same time I think it's also something that will help to move us and inspire people because you can't be complacent, you've got to be more creative and innovative in your thinking and I think that's probably what will be the biggest outcome of it.

Q: In a so-called off year in 2010 with no Olympics or World Outdoor Championships, U.S. athletes went on to post some amazing performances. Do you think that bodes well for Team USA at next year's World Outdoor Championships in Daegu?

A: One thing it was scary this past summer, I was like 'We've gotta save some of that, let's don't leave it all on the track now' (Laughter). I thought we had a great result in Beijing, but there are a lot of people who didn't think we had a great result, and because of that I believe people are more motivated and inspired to get out there and reinvigorate ourselves as the number one team in the world, and so I'm looking forward to some really exemplary performances this year and I'm excited about the potential of the team that we're going to have.

Mike McNees

Q: What are your thoughts about this year's Annual Meeting in Virginia Beach?

A: I thought it was a great week for USA Track & Field. The energy of the volunteers and their dedication to the sport is really an amazing thing to watch. The focus on the future and the working together and the cooperative effort by everybody was a great thing, and I think people are going home recharged and rededicated to doing all that hard work they do out there. So from my point of view it was a great week.

Q: What do you look at as some of the challenges of the coming year and the successes you expect to see within USA Track & Field?

A: Obviously, athletically it's a really exciting time going into the World Championships and a pre-Olympic year rolling forward to 2012, and you can't be not excited about those things and being ready to watch our athletes, and we're really excited about where they're headed. Organizationally, it's all these 1,000 people that were here this week doing the work every day to keep the sport of track and field alive and growing, and I don't have any worry about that at all. That's going to happen.

Future Annual Meeting sites selected

During the Final General Session on Sunday the organization approved Houston, Tex., as the site of the 2015 Annual Meeting, and in 2016 the event will take place in Orlando, Fla. Houston previously played host to the Annual Meeting in 1985, and Orlando was the site of the organization's yearly gathering in 1998.

The 2011 Annual Meeting will take place in St. Louis, Mo. Future sites include: 2012 in Daytona Beach, Fla., 2013 in Indianapolis, Ind., & 2014 in Anaheim, Calif.

For more information on the 2010 USA Track & Field Annual Meeting, visit: www.usatf.org.