Many members of USA Dance are not familiar with who comprises the GC, so I would like to introduce some of its members. We will start with the man who has been serving the members of USA Dance on the GC the longest, our Membership Director, Jerry Bonmer. Perhaps this will put Jerry’s tenure in perspective – while USA Dance’s membership is over 20,000, Jerry and his wife, Sue, hold membership numbers below 100. Jerry and Sue make their home in the state of PA and Jerry has been serving as the Membership Director of USA Dance for many decades. My husband, Mark and I joined USA Dance as competitive members in 1985 and were sent our membership cards by you guessed it – Jerry Bonmer!
In June of this year I had the opportunity to travel to Shanghai to attend the Annual General Assembly of the World DanceSport Federation. I was accompanied by Bill Rose, Senior Vice President. Also in our party was Ken Richards, Vice President of DanceSport. But since Ken also serves on the Presidium of the WDSF, he was there in that capacity rather than as a voting delegate from USA Dance, as Bill and I were.
Unlike last year, when USA Dance representatives joined forces with other national federations to successfully overturn the WDSF suspension of athletes and officials for participating in competitions outside the WDSF, this year’s General Assembly was mild in comparison. In fact, the U.S., Canada and Latin American countries have been provided with increased opportunities to host WDSF competitions, which we hope to start doing in the next year. This is part of the effort to grow DanceSport throughout the Americas and place it in a stronger position to become a Pan American Sport, just one step below the Olympic Games.
Also of interest in Shanghai was the election of Presidium members, including Ken Richards, to another term. I was asked by the Presidium for the first time to serve as one of the tellers to tally the votes, and was pleased to do so. There were four of us representatives from different nations counting the ballots, plus the chair, and we counted and recounted the ballots to ensure accuracy.
The WDSF is comprised of over 90 national federations, with differing views and outlooks, and the opportunity to meet the representatives from other parts of the world, including Africa, the Americas, Asia, Oceania and Europe is always a high point of the Annual Assembly. Yet as disparate as our nations may be, we all come together in our love of DanceSport and our desire to grow the sport in all corners of the world under the WDSF umbrella. For this reason, the time and effort spent in attending WDSF meetings and supporting its programs is well worth while.
For a number of years the Vice President of DanceSport, Ken Richards, and I have been discussing the need to begin training our elite athletes who will be the ones representing the U.S. should DanceSport become a Pan American sport. As it is looking more and more feasible that the Pan American Games are in DanceSport’s future, perhaps as early as 2019, the training of our athletes has become that much more important.
The Pan American Games are just a step below the Olympic Games. In the United States, National Governing Bodies of Pan American sports participate on the NGB Council of the USOC along with Olympic Program Sports, and are eligible for financial support. Selection of athletes for the Pan American Games takes place in open trials, where professionals and amateurs compete against each other, to ensure that the country sends only its top athletes to the Games.
The Juniors and Youth competing today may indeed become tomorrow’s Pan American representatives, and so positioning them for this future opportunity to represent the United States on the huge stage that is the Pan American Games becomes ever more important.
Therefore, after years of discussion, it was clear we needed to move ahead with an elite dance camp for our juniors and youth, and the Governing Council concurred in funding the camp, with chapters of USA Dance as well as individual donors stepping in to lend financial support.
This past May, the camp became a reality, when twenty of our top junior and youth athletes arrived at the USOC Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, New York for three full days of lectures in nutrition, injury prevention, physical and mental strengthening, intense workshops in Latin and Standard technique and a performance for USOC staff, families and other athletes training at Lake Placid. The June/July issue of the American Dancer Magazine details the activities and has photos from the Camp.
We have expressed our deep gratitude to the USOC for providing access to their outstanding facility in Lake Placid. Through the type of training we have offered our young athletes at the Camp, USA Dance has made an investment in the future of our sport that we believe will pay large dividends in the years ahead.
As the National President of USA Dance, it has been such a pleasure serving on the Governing Council with volunteers who have such a long history of service to our organization. Our corporate officers, divisional vice presidents and directors work as a team to serve the needs of the members. While not all the decisions the Governing Council makes are immediately popular with the membership, I hope they all know that we work hard to keep USA Dance moving forward and that we are charting a course for USA Dance to be the premier DanceSport organization in the country. Our goal is to provide increased opportunities for competitors and social dancers alike to enjoy workshops, lessons, dances and competitions with their fellow dance enthusiasts within the framework of a dedicated all-volunteer organization which is USA Dance.
I am Lydia Scardina, National President of USA Dance, and welcome to my blog. The purpose of this blog is to keep members and friends of DanceSport and Ballroom Dancing informed and engaged in what is going on in USA Dance in particular as well as in the American and international competitive dance world in general. I will be sharing my thoughts on a variety of issues in the coming weeks and months, and will be updating this blog regularly, so come by frequently to see what’s new.
In this blog you will find not only some of my past President’s Reports that I believe to be of interest but also my thinking on new issues as they develop. It is important that you know that this is my personal blog, and the comments I make here are my own, rather than official statements I am making on behalf of USA Dance.