2014 USSA Congress Address - Tiger Shaw
Welcome to the 2014 USSA Congress. I can’t tell you how much I, along with the USSA team, staff and board, appreciate all of you being here. Many of you are long standing volunteers, selflessly giving to the USSA, your region, division and clubs. You represent a wealth of experience and wisdom across many important positions including officials, competition administrators, race organizers and many other roles. I know many of you personally and I understand how you have served the USSA for many years. This national organization, your region, your club, my staff and I cannot possibly thank you in a way commensurate with your efforts, time, knowledge and contributions. Certainly, we have lot of “contributors” to the USSA, but the way in which you all contribute is exceptional.
I understand this commitment and its significance, as I have also been a volunteer gate judge, race worker, club administrator, and club board member for many years. Balancing budgets, hiring coaches, running fundraisers, procuring insurance, working with hundreds of parents and athletes. I appreciate what it takes from us all – as my mother, father and siblings have done the same throughout the years as well.
On a personal note, I am very honored to stand in front of you here today. I take the responsibility of my role with USSA very seriously. The USSA is a diverse organization, one that serves many sports with numerous purposes within these sports. We are the National Governing Body as defined by the USOC and the IOC. We are the National Federation as defined by the FIS and the IOC. We field some of the most elite teams in the world. We try to foster participation in our sports; we nurture our athletic pipelines by partnering with our clubs and academies that form the very foundation of our athletic existence. These clubs, along with the coaches, volunteers and parents, produce our talent who become our superstars who represent us worldwide.
So what does Best in the World mean? Well, it started as a 1997 rally cry. Bill Marolt had a vision. He was bold enough to state what he thought we could do and what we SHOULD be able to do. Bill had his doubters. Was this goal attainable? Well, history has answered that question with a resounding YES. We ARE Best in the World in many of our sports and events. We eventually achieved it by 2010, and we proved again in 2014 that we have the focus and the conviction to lead the world.
In addition to this Olympic success, we had countless podiums and won many event titles. Proven winners across the board. Wow, it really takes your breath away!
As success breeds success, we remain committed to achieving success time and again and beyond. The major, unwavering focus of our national teams is and always will be to be the BEST in the WORLD..
Okay, so what does this overarching vision mean to you? You may be a club director, a technical delegate, a judge or an official. You may be a parent, a coach, an organizer or an administrator. You may or may not have influence on a future Olympian, or for that matter even know many. You have an event to judge, the club banquet to handle, a budget to balance, cash flow and bank accounts to juggle, employees to manage and lead or a fundraiser to pull together. The elite pipeline seems distant. Yes, you work with great kids, serve loving, enthusiastic parents. You have enthusiastic and dedicated help. But what does Best in the World mean to you? It seems distant.
Well, it is not as distant as you might think. It is no disconnect. Rather it is a tight connection to a dream that only some might realize, but with mere pursuit, you become an intrinsic and even critical part of it. Let me explain.
Consider the elite pipeline that leads to world level competition and becoming the world’s best. Every club, school and academy supports the few who make it to Best in the World. Some clubs have a portion of their members shooting for the top. Some have very few. Nonetheless, the few who ascend into that elite track are supported by all. The elite kids have friends and mentors who, had they been without, may have exited their sport. These friends and companions are critical to the elite kid’s success because of the support system they form as peers, playmates, fellow competitors and older mentors. You see, without friends in all of these sports, they would never get there. It takes camaraderie, companionship, shared experiences, special times and pure joy to keep all the athletes going. It is the love of one’s own sport that drives the world’s best to high achievement. Repetition, practice, participation – achieving excellence. The world’s best athletes love these aspects of their sport as well as their pals who chase dreams with them. Friends, mentors, parents, coaches and clubs launch elite careers.
Parents who cart kids around, buy the equipment, organize the gear and outings. And it’s the coaches and club administrators, the fundamental leaders on the ground level who provide the infrastructure that makes it all work. The athletic excellence, the coaching staff, the training gear, resort operating agreements and the endless competitions. This community forms an ecosystem that gestates and generates talented competitors, keeping all of the requisite components together year after year for young athletes. This ecosystem provides the pathway and nurturing, challenging environments that both feed the elite pipeline and provide a system in which competitors of all abilities can pursue their dreams. Dreams that might include World Cups, the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix or the X Games. Dreams that might include high school racing, winning a local ski race or just learning how to ride well, go fast or catch big air. It’s the love of “doing it” that feeds the passion and makes for lifelong fans; spectating, following and participating.
You see, it is the organization of and the simple pursuit of our sports that drives excellence, world-class events and Best in the World performances. So while Best in the World sounds remote or means something different to each of us, it does have relevance and a direct connection to all who love our sports. That’s the connection. Pursuit of excellence and joy in our sports. Impacting kids, regardless of the level means being part of Best in the World. Its not just about the top, its about being part of the ecosystem that changes lives, develops great individuals and enables all to develop and pursue their passion.
How can the USSA improve?
The McKinsey Report released a year ago illuminated many areas in which the USSA can and needs to improve. Chief among those things were:
1. Club, member value and services provided
3. Governance and organization
Club, member value and services provided
Last summer, the USSA embarked on improving club programs. The hiring of Brian Krill, USSA Club Development Manager, has proven very successful. Brian has led much change, including projects and initiatives that have helped address this effort. The new USSA Club Certification process has also worked well, and most clubs have wholeheartedly embraced it.
Coach’s education has made great strides. Jon Nolting and his staff have been on the ground and in the field delivering a growing offering. They take input daily and blend these ideas and innovations into their programs. Delivery systems continue to improve, and the number of certified coaches has grown considerably. I am proud of their achievements and I hope they are as well.
The USSA’s Club Liability Insurance Program has been revamped and improved. The USSA has listened to your needs and, as a result, has worked in partnership with our insurance companies to provide a program to qualifying USSA member clubs that will lower your costs, simplify participation and meet the requirements of your resorts and landowners.