I returned yesterday from the USOC Olympic and Paralympic Assembly held in Colorado Springs. It was nice to be back after a two year hiatus and to reconnect with old colleagues and make new connections with members of the Multi Sport Organizations Council, Olympians and USOC officials. This was especially helpful to me in my role as a member of the WDSF Sport for All Commission.
From 2007 through 2013 it was my honor to attend the annual Assembly as the official USA Dance representative. This year that honor fell to USA Dance President, Ken Richards, and I attended at Ken’s request in order to provide continuity and offer historical perspective in meetings we had with USOC officials on continuing issues and on-going initiatives.
It is always a humbling experience to attend the USOC Assembly and to be reminded of the USOC’s outstanding efforts in supporting the thousands of superlative athletes that represent the U.S. at the Olympic and Pan American Games. But that support does not only come during an Olympic year, but every year, in the form of training opportunities at the USOC Training Centers, financial support to each National Governing Body of sports in the Olympic and Pan American Games, and the resources offered in the fields of sports medicine, nutrition, injury prevention, sport performance and sport psychology. Because the U.S. government does not provide financial support to the USOC, all of its resources come from sponsors and donors who make generous contributions on behalf of Team USA, as well as from television contracts and royalties that allow for the world-wide viewing of Olympic and Paralympic events.
At this year’s Assembly the emphasis of course was on the recently completed Games in Rio, and the outstanding performances of Team USA. At the Awards banquet, with Master of Ceremonies Lewis Johnson of NBC which capped the Assembly, inspiring videos were shown of the top performances, and awards were also made in a variety of areas both on and off the field of play. For instance, USA Synchro Swimming received an award for the biggest growth this year among NGB’s in the field of Diversity and Inclusion.
Of particular interest to USA Dance this year was the opportunity for greater interaction with the NGB’s of Olympic program and Pan American sports. The Recognized Sport Organizations on the Multi Sport Council, including USA Dance, were also brought together as a group to meet with USOC officials in order to be able to discuss areas of common interest in our various organizations. At this time the Recognized Sport Organizations on the Multi Sport Council are: US Polo Association, USA Football, Orienteering USA, USA Dance, USA Ultimate, and the Underwater Society of America. This group of sports will have future opportunities to meet together via on-line exchanges, conference calls and at the next Assembly in order to form a closer alliance.
While USA Dance, as the USOC-recognized NGB of DanceSport is not yet a Pan American sport, we continue to move forward in that effort. Attending the annual USOC Assembly allows for the closer forging of bonds between USA Dance and the other sports recognized by the USOC. This building of an ever-stronger relationship pays dividends for USA Dance and its athletes in the form of opportunities to access the many services that the USOC provides, and allows for the continuing evolutionary development of USA Dance as a stronger and more effective National Governing Body.