USATF offer: First-timers can get ‘grants’ to attend N.C. nationals

Latest issue of NMN

Latest issue of NMN

At 2013 Olathe nationals, Masters National Chairman Gary Snyder proposed a program that would pay travel and lodging expenses to 2014 outdoor masters nationals for first-time competitors. In the wonderful April issue of National Masters News, the offer was announced (top right of page 13). It’s unclear how much the “incentive” grants are. But here’s the deal: If you’ve never competed at an indoor or outdoor masters nationals and you have a USATF membership, you can get the money “on a first come first served” basis. Gary and others are kicking in nearly $1,500, along with funding from the Winston-Salem LOC. The NMN issue, the second under new publishers Amanda Scotti and Tish Ceccarelli, is a revelation, too. Besides the usual columnists (Mike Tymn, Nancy Clark, Cathy Utzschneider and Jerry Bookin-Weiner), we see a great Q&A with masters rankings guru John Seto. He appears under the column heading “Unsung Heroes,” which the publishers promise to be a regular feature spotlighting officials and volunteers. Amanda and Tish also are soliciting tales from “common” athletes, addressing a complaint that elites get too much ink. Great idea. Send them to: Who to contact about the travel-and-lodging offer? Gary doesn’t say, but writes: “Detailed information on how to apply for a grant will be sent via email to all USATF members and National Senior Games athletes.”

Click on the image to read Gary Snyder's offer of free travel and lodging to 2014 nationals.

Click on image to read offer of free travel and lodging to 2014 nationals.

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March 30, 2014

10 Responses

  1. Jason Purcell - March 30, 2014

    Some pretty good ideas.

  2. tb - March 30, 2014

    I would use the $1500 to reduce the entry fees for 30 local first-timers. Locals are where the potential is for attendance and growth.

  3. Jack Karbens - March 30, 2014

    Financing free travel and lodging will lead to unintended consequences and hard feelings as politics and favoritism dominate decisions about who gets the subsidies when the only criterion is that the applicant has never competed previously in a national championship. Would financial need, qualifying performances, service to track and field organizations and/or other meaningful criteria also be considered and applied consistently by all Associations?

    Please focus on locating our championships at universities where dorm rooms and meal plans are available. Consider subsidies for universities who provide dorms. The costs for fancy hotels, restaurant meals, car rentals, cabs, etc. become real deterrents to many first time and returning competitors. Are dorm rooms and a meal plan available at Wake Forest University?

  4. Gary Snyder - March 30, 2014

    Dorm rooms – yes

  5. mike travers - March 31, 2014

    The subject of dorm rooms is always front and center when I discuss meets with interested parties. Not all host cities have dorm rooms to offer. We always encourage our hosts to make them available.

    Mike Travers
    USATF Championship Site Selection Chair

  6. Peter Taylor - April 2, 2014

    Earlier I heard that “Winston-Salem 2014″ is supposed to be the meet that shakes us out of the doldrums in terms of attendance. The record no. of entrants for a masters outdoors is 1503, set an amazing 14 years ago when the U.S. population was far smaller, when Ken Stone was not doing his thing, when the Internet was foreign to many, etc.

    With some financial support of neophytes, with the meet located at a major university and resting in capable hands, with dorm rooms available, what’s not to like? Let’s go for 1504 and set a new record, for crying out loud. It’s been 14 long years … William Jefferson Clinton was president when we hit our peak; now that’s a long time ago.

    According to the 2013 estimates, North Carolina ranks 10th in the country in population, and that can only help the meet. Moreover, neighboring Virginia ranks 12th, and Georgia, a bit to the south, ranks 8th. We can do it.

    I just looked at the USATF website — as of this evening (April 2), we already have 5 entrants. I really believe we can get 1420 or so with no problem, but it would certainly be nice to hit 1504.

  7. Jack Karbens - April 4, 2014

    Noel Ruebel, Meet Director for 2014 USATF National Masters Outdoor Championships at Wake Forest University, emailed today to report that dorm rooms are not available for this meet. Anyone know how a poor old average athlete from Hawaii can stay cheaply in Winston-Salem? Since I have competed in these meets since 1981, I assume I am not eligible for a subsidy. I already have my free mileage plus plane ticket.

  8. Peter Taylor - April 4, 2014

    Sorry that I can’t help you directly, Jack. I was down in Winston-Salem in March for the SE Indoor Regionals, and I know one thing from that experience:

    What is considered Winston-Salem is an area that covers a lot of ground. In fact, it’s 132.4 square miles. Thus, the traveler must realize that a hotel billed as being in Winston-Salem may not be close to the stadium.

    I also know, or think I know, that essentially no one will be flying into Winston-Salem. Let me check that again … Yes, it seems that people will be flying into Greensboro, North Carolina, not into the airport in Winston-Salem. Oh, well.

    The best thing to do, I guess, is to find a recommended hotel that is within 15 miles of the Greensboro airport and less than 5 miles from the stadium. I think that can be done.

    The current record holder for most athletes entering a national championship is Univ. of Oregon (Eugene), 2000. That meet had excellent dorm accommodations, I am told.

    Given the news that dorms are not available at Wake Forest Univ, I will withdraw my statement in post no.6 above. It will now be much harder to get a record-breaking 1504 entrants, but perhaps it can be done. The deadline for regular entry (no penalty) is June 19, or 2 months and 15 days from today. We still have plenty of time.

  9. Mary Harada - April 5, 2014

    University of Oregon provided excellent dorm rooms and a really good cafeteria as well – wish the Nat Masters would go back there – great facility, wonderful town with very supportive people who understand track. But there has to be a LOC willing to do the hard work of organizing the meet.
    RE Winston-Salem – flying into a small airport is always expensive – no dorms – need to rent a car? That all sounds very expensive – and I will be shocked if there is a record number of competitors. While it is good to spread the meets around – some concern should be shown to expenses for athletes.

  10. Peter Taylor - April 5, 2014

    It’s a big ol’ mystery why masters nationals don’t draw better than they do, but drawing big numbers is not everything, I suppose. I firmly believe that Winston-Salem will have a very strong, beautifully conducted meet, but I see that hitting 1504 entrants without having dorms or a cafeteria will be tough. I won’t get into the issues with flights or rental cars.

    As far as I know, before 1989 no outdoor nationals had ever drawn well. From 1989 through 2000, however, 25% of the national outdoors drew more than 1400 entrants. From 2001 through 2013, in contrast, just one meet broke the 1400 barrier. Yes, Sacramento (2010) was the only one. Pity.

    I have a personal interest in this meet, as I have a hotel room reserved, a car, and a plan. From where I live (Fairfax, Virginia) it’s about 5 hrs and 10 minutes to my Winston-Salem hotel.

    I hope that on the first day of the meet I find that there are 1504 entrants (or more). Right now (6:45 PM on Saturday, April 5) we are sitting at 6 entrants.

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