N.C. nationals meet director invites critiques — pro and con

Noel Ruebel, an experienced masters multi-eventer, learned at North Carolina nationals that being a meet director requires similar skills. Gotta be a multi-tasker. When he spoke at the Athletes Banquet last Saturday night (see video) at the site of 2015 indoor nationals, he told of how he leaned against doing the onerous job again. But by the end of the meet, he said he’d “absolutely” give it another go. In an open note to entrants, he shows his courage by inviting input. “Your comments, both negative and positive, will be included in [a meet management] notebook to make for better and better meets in the coming years,” he writes. Further proof of his courage? Watch him sing “Chantilly Lace” to open the karaoke portion of the banquet, which ran until about 10 p.m. (Actually, Noel is pretty dang good!)

Noel writes:

Thank you to all who participated in the 2014 Masters National Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Winston Salem. We hope you enjoyed the experience and will return in March for the 2015 Indoor Nationals. 

We did our best to provide you with the opportunity to compete at the highest level, comfortably navigate and discover the city of Winston Salem, enjoy a party worthy of the name of Awards Banquet, and did so with the cooperation and dedication of over 350 people who made up the Local Organizing Committee, volunteers, Games Committee and officials. 

We realize that even with all the hard work, everything wasn’t perfect. I would like to put together a report in the form of a notebook to pass along to meet management from year-to-year. 

Your comments, both negative and positive, will be included in the notebook to make for better and better meets in the coming years.  I hope you’ll use this opportunity for constructive criticism to further the knowledge of expectations of those of us who have never managed an event of this magnitude.  Please email your comments to:  noelruebel@fcds.org.
The buzz in the hospitality room and around the venue was the exceptional job done by our 200+ volunteers.  If you had an experience you’d like to share, or would like to thank the person responsible for their recruitment and training, please email Er Ralston at erralston@yahoo.com

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July 26, 2014

15 Responses

  1. Peter L. Taylor - July 26, 2014

    As the primary announcer I personally benefited from having so many enthusiastic and helpful volunteers. In addition, I took the free shuttle to the meet three times and enjoyed the company of the friendly driver.

    I thank Noel, Eric Braschwitz, Er Ralston, and the others for doing so much work to make this a fine meet.

  2. Bill Daprano - July 26, 2014

    Noel and others did one heck of a job putting on a great National meet. Also the banquet was one of the best. Let’s do it again next year.

  3. Marcus battle - July 26, 2014

    Great job
    Big guy

  4. Curt Morgan - July 26, 2014

    Noel, first class meet (almost) all the way! Everyone involved in putting in on, gets triple golds!

    That said, a couple of maybe-we-can-do-it-differently-and-better next times:

    1. Not everyone can afford commercial lodgings in Winston-Salem (a tourist destination, and, rightly so). One of my competitors (and now, a good friend) called ahead, wanting to bunk down at the Wake Forest dorm. He was told “We were asked NOT to allow folks here for the master’s meet, to use our facilities.” I suggest, for the future, dorm space be made available pro-actively by USATF. Not everyone can afford multiple nights in $150 Bed and Breakfasts, or even $120 at the Ramada Inn.

    2. We had great difficulty ascertaining the route and time schedule of the shuttle bus. Downtown at the city’s Transportation Center, they had never heard of it, for one. That said, the driver went out of his way, to get us in the vicinity of our BnB; much appreciated.

  5. Jerry Orange - July 26, 2014

    My only disappointment was from a fan viewpoint. The finish of all the events was on the far side of the track. I heard many people in the stands comment on how they wished they could see the finish of the races.

    I ran three races and all were done very well. Overall, great job and we had a nice time in Winston-Salem.

  6. Terry Parks - July 26, 2014

    I enjoyed this meet. I think it was well run. Only a few things to fix. The warm-up on the soccer field was not optimal as the field was a bit uneven and it was not possible to put your spikes on and do some strides. There was no changing area that I was aware of. It would have been nice to have some porta potties near the call-up area. There was no medals stand. I am not sure how you guys ran out of Gold medals.

    The shade areas for the athletes were good and much appreciated. The video of the runs were great, I am not sure if the field events had any video.

    A few things to improve, but this felt like a professional meet. Good job.

  7. Liz Palmer - July 27, 2014

    I echo the critiques of Jerry (#5) and Terry (#6). Poor warm up area, we would have appreciated some portas near the call tent, and having the sprints on the far side of the track was not good. Spectators missed out on a good view of the action; athletes missed out on the energy of the crowd. Other than that, a beautiful venue, helpful volunteers and officials, and a very friendly community made this a fun meet.

  8. Jack Karbens - July 27, 2014

    Dorm Rooms: Reasonable cost; chance to visit with fellow athletes day and night at dorms, in cafeteria and around campus; eliminate need for car rentals; eliminate time going back and forth to track by foot, shuttle or car; eliminate or reduce parking challenges; allow greater time and energy for warm up and competing.

  9. tb - July 27, 2014

    I’m familiar with how much work goes into big, lower-level, annual meets, at a facility you control, with people and organizations you know. To herd the cats of masters track thru a new facility with new staff in your first time directing nationals is just amazing. Excellent job.

    That being said, I was not chauffeured from the airport to the meet. What’s up with that?

  10. Gary D - July 28, 2014

    Someone forgot to tell the official photographer to get up to the long throws venue. Where are the javelin, discus, weight and hammer photos? It all ran smooth and the officials were great, but it was like we didn’t exist.

  11. Curt Morgan - July 28, 2014

    Ken Stone was indeed pro-active in that regard. When I got injured, and then volunteered to write up whatever needed to be written up, Ken told me “Go over to the weight and field events! They’re dying to talk to you over there!” So I did. Ken’s getting ready to run several weight-javelin-pole vault items, with photos. Patience, children, patience.

    Be advised, quality sports photography is a whole lot trickier than it might look. To do it “right” you need expensive gear and very skilled photographers, to get the quality of photos that you see from, say, the Olympics. Try it sometime and I think you’ll understand.

  12. David E. Ortman (M61), Seattle, WA - July 29, 2014

    First, thanks to the meet officials and volunteers who help put on our national masters meets.

    Second, thanks for soliciting suggestions for improving out national masters championship meets. Although I did not complete in North Carolina, below are some suggestions based on past national masters championships:

    * Schedule. By now there should be a standard national masters outdoor and indoor meet schedule such that athletes would at least have some idea of what events would be competed in the AM and PM each day BEFORE entry fees are required. For those of us trying to juggle both track and field events, scheduling is important. (Something completely lost on last year’s WMA-Porto Alegre meet, which scheduled the finals of the M60 300m hurdles and the High Jump at the same time in two different stadiums a half-hour cab ride apart!)

    * Shade, water and Port-o-potties at event venues for outdoor meets.

    * USATF Rules of Competition 139.3 Recorder of Records provides:
    For all meets there shall be included in the list of officials a Recorder of Records. He/she shall see that records are properly applied for. He/she shall have at the site of the competition an adequate supply of record forms. He/she should have no other duties.

    The Recorder of Records should be identified and listed on all meet program materials, including the entry form, and website.

    * Sweep the track. At a recent senior games meet, I picked up two handfuls of fireworks (from the 4th of July!), sticks, rocks, and a metal nut off the track before competition started. Even at our national outdoor championships, I have picked rocks and sticks off the track and runways. Please have an official or volunteer walk the track and runways and remove these objects prior to competition.

    * A ride-share bulletin board where someone could post a note along the following lines:

    I have room for one/two/three passengers going downtown/hotel X, airport, etc. leaving from this spot at (day/time). Please sign name (c.p. # if available) and be here at this time if interested.

  13. Mark Cleary - July 29, 2014

    Overall a great job. The relay check in process needs fine tuning. This was the second National meet in a row where they ran out of medals. Hey guys we went to 5 year age groups in two of the three relays-but no one accounted for that in Boston or Winston-Salem. It is in the Bid document that the LOC is in charge of ordering the trophies for 1st,2nd &3rd place teams. This is always anti-climactic when your team wins the National title and then there is no Trophy presentation at the end of a long 4 day meet. Noel gets an A rating though for his first National Champs as meet Director

  14. Mark Cleary - July 29, 2014

    The worst part about the meet was the horrible meet schedule, which Noel had no control over-that’s the Games Committee-we should go back to the old schedule of events for future meets. At least that was the general consensus in talking to people.

  15. Mike Travers - July 30, 2014

    Mark, We did account for the extra relays in Boston this winter. We still ran out. BTW, all medals were sent out last week to those who did not get them in Boston.

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