PORTLAND, Ore. - President Bill Roe and CEO Craig Masback on Wednesday evening opened the 2004 USATF Annual Meeting. Celebrating a theme of "One Team, One Dream," the 2004 Annual Meeting - held in conjunction with the U.S. Track Coaches Association annual convention - is the largest in USATF history, with more than 1,500 attendees.
Touting changes to Hall of Fame inductee selection system, revitalization of USATF's club system and the growth of the USA Track & Field Foundation, Roe in his President's Repot provided a wish list for the next four years. Roe at the 2004 Annual Meeting will earn his second, four-year term as USATF president, entering the 2004 elections without opposition.
"I wish for a sport which continues to reach - as it does today - the broad spectrum of our secondary schools, colleges, and universities," Roe said. "But I wish to extend that reach into elementary and middle schools through community-based and club programs.
"I wish for a sport which is financially more able to take care of its governance, its programs, and its people. We need to find more operating funds to our committees, councils, and boards. We need to find a way to ensure that our top officials are at our national championships, and not on their own nickel. We need to find a living wage for more coaches, so that they can stay in our sport and build their skills ...We can do better.
"I wish for a sport which inspires Americans every year, and not just in an Olympic year ... I wish for a sport in which everyone gets along ... I wish for a sport free from the dark clouds of cheating in any form ... We can do better still, and the best is yet to come."
State of the Sport
Giving his annual State of the Sport address, Masback emphasized the Annual Meeting theme, "One Team, One Dream," noting that "it is intended as a clear message that the whole of USA Track & Field is greater than the sum of the parts. That the dreams of each and every one of us fuel our success as a collective team."
Masback looked back on the strategic objectives that the organization achieved in 2004, including record numbers of high school track & cross country athletes, certified officials and sanctioned races. USATF membership also has increased 22 percent in the last five years.
Significant milestones were achieved in several areas, particularly in USATF resources. USATF has now paid off the $3 million debt that Masback inherited when he became CEO in 1997, doing so "a full year early," while the organization now has a $1 million surplus. Revenues have increased 120 percent since 1997, to $15.5 million.
"Our strategy of developing new sources of revenue is working," Masback said, "with our USATF Foundation generating over $1 million to date and our merchandize program growing from $6,000 in revenues in 1997 to an expected $500,000 in 2005."
Meanwhile, USATF track meets, road races and other events continue to grow, and USATF produced or arranged the broadcast of 25 national television shows in 2004, including seven NBC shows with an average rating of 2.5. The ratings surge continues a trend where USATF ratings rise as other sports suffer ratings decreases.
Development of stars of the future was reflected in dominant medal totals at the World Junior Championships (19) and Olympic Games, where athletes won 25 medals, for a 25 percent increase over 2000. Investment in the future of the country as well as the sport is reflected in USATF's new "Be A Champion" program, launched in October. "Be A Champion helps our athletes and coaches and the American College of Sports Medicine members to go to schools and convey a message that urges young people and those who guide them to lead healthy, fit lifestyles and refrain from drug use," Masback said.
Masback added an additional strategic objective for 2005: to build key relationships with the international community, continue improving USATF's working relationship with the USOC, and to enhance community relationships in Indianapolis, where USATF's National Office is located.
He concluded his remarks by addressing drugs in sport. "We turned an important corner on an issue that has challenged this organization for the past three decades," Masback said. "We turned the corner on the issue, and we did so because we did the right things, people gave us credit for doing so, and our athletes made a strong statement on and off the track."
At its 2003 Annual Meeting, USATF adopted its Zero Tolerance anti-doping policy and paired that with a serious approach in which lessons from past mistakes were combined with a forward-thinking approach that addressed the future of the fight against drugs. Athletes themselves took it from there: "Our clean athletes took the sport back from the cheaters," Masback said, noting that Team USA in Athens won more Olympic medals than at any Games since 1992. "I'm not so foolish as to say that we've left the drug issue behind, but we have turned the corner toward a new day where your hard work gets the recognition it deserves."
2004 President's Award Winners
USATF President Bill Roe honored 12 USATF contributors with President's Awards during Wednesday Night's 2004 Annual Meeting Opening Session. Below are the honorees:
Kathy Fones - New Mexico Association contributor, youth/junior track & field advocate
Antonio Pettigrew -Athletes' Advisory Committee officer and Board of Directors member, coach, former U.S. 400m champion and 4x400m relay world record holder, former Visa Humanitarian Athlete of the Year
Erica Wheeler -Athletes' Advisory Committee officer and Board of Directors member, former U.S. javelin champion
George Williams - 2004 Olympic Team men's head coach; 1999 World Outdoor Championships, 1993 World Indoor Championships and 1992 IAAF World Cup men's head coach; coach at St. Augustine's College in Raleigh, N.C., since 1976
Meb Keflezighi - 2004 Olympic men's marathon silver medalist, 10,000m American record holder Deena Kastor - 2004 Olympic women's marathon bronze medalist, 10,000m and marathon American record holder, Athletes Advisory Committee contributor
Mike Frankfurt - Chairman of the Armory Foundation in New York, New York Road Runners Club member, longtime contributor
Mary Rosado - Masters Long Distance Running Executive Committee member, Law & Legislation Committee representative
Cynthia Doyle - USATF Board of Directors Member, National Federation of State High School Associations assistant director, high school track & field advocate
Mark Springer - USATF employee since 1986, working in all areas of the sport; currently USATF Director of Grassroots Programs & Planning; longtime Annual Meeting organizer
Thomas McLean - former USATF Executive Director of Programs, longtime Annual Meeting organizer, former NCAA 800m champion
Harry Simonis - Oregon Association Executive Director, host of five World Cross Country Trials in last 12 years, longtime sport contributor
The 2004 USATF Annual Meeting continues through Sunday. Key events Thursday include a "Be A Champion" visit by USATF athletes Justin Gatlin, Allen Johnson, Sanya Richards and Brenda Taylor at Portland's Gregory Heights Middle School at 3 p.m.
For more information on the 2004 USATF Annual Meeting, visit www.usatf.org