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.