Importance of a SafeSport Environment

As I enter my first competition season as President and CEO of the USSA, I feel compelled to speak directly to you regarding child protection within sport. This effort, known as SafeSport, is of critical importance to me as a parent, coach, and now leader of the USSA. Please allow me to give you an update on steps the USSA has taken in this area. Every coach, administrator, volunteer, parent and athlete must be well informed about best practices regarding recognizing and reporting SafeSport violations.

Since 2006, the USSA has required that all coaches and officials undergo criminal background screening. Our Board of Directors has mandated that every person in a position of authority over our kids, whether they are coaches, officials or other club leaders, must complete the background screening.  When someone seeks to join the USSA, that person must review and indicate his/her agreement with USSA’s SafeSport guidelines and other educational materials. 

Members of the USSA family have been instrumental in driving the child protection agenda at the US Olympic Committee. One of our alumni athletes, Nina Kemppel, led the USOC’s SafeSport task force that created educational resources for parents and athletes.  Her efforts led the USOC to announce the creation of an independent entity known as the National Center for SafeSport. This entity will be launched in 2015 and will investigate and adjudicate claims of sexual abuse in Olympic sport. The USSA will support this entity financially and we are optimistic that it will be successful.

The USSA will continue to focus on these issues. Our organization has a zero tolerance approach to SafeSport violations. We have designed a club education and certification program, a component of which is awareness of SafeSport issues. USSA staff is available to travel to clubs to educate coaches and parents on SafeSport issues. I have also directed my staff that they are all “mandatory reporters,” in that if they suspect abuse is occurring, they must report it to police or other child protection authorities.

These efforts, while steps in the right direction, must continue and accelerate if we are to provide an atmosphere for our kids free of abuse. Please join me in raising awareness of these issues in your community. You can start by viewing the excellent resources available at I highly recommend that you complete the free SafeSport training module located there. Then, visit and share its contents with your fellow USSA members, coaches and parents. Finally, please take the initiative to ensure that your club actively promotes SafeSport principles.

Going forward, I will need your help. As leaders in our sports, you are uniquely positioned to raise awareness of these issues in your community. Together we can make a difference and protect our kids.

Thank you for your time and attention to this critical issue.

Tiger Shaw

President and CEO

U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association