USA JUDO MASTERS DEVELOPMENT
From the desk of Mark Lonsdale, Judo Training Development
For those of you who have expressed interest in Masters or Veterans Judo in the US, and frustration at the apparent lack of progress, the following is a little background along with a proposed way forward.
On July 24, 2012, USA Judo sent a letter to Marius Vizer, President of the International Judo Federation (IJF), expressing a willingness to host the 2012 World Grand Masters. This was subsequently hosted in Miami in November 2012 and was considered a huge success in terms of participation and profit. There were over 800 competitors, with strong teams from Russia, France, Great Britain, Mongolia, and Brazil, but the USA Masters still held their own. We took four Gold medals, eight Silvers, twenty-one Bronze, and had an additional thirty-three competitors place fifth. That totaled sixty-six USA Masters in the top five slots in a sanctioned IJF World Veterans Championships.
About this same time, Marius Vizer put out a letter pledging greater IJF support and recognition of Veterans Judo. Following up on the success of the World Grand Masters, USA Judo formed a Masters committee chaired by George Stein, vice chair was Bo Svenson, but the names of the rest of the committee were never released. In eight months there have been no announcements as to the composition or progress of the Masters committee. The 2013 World Veterans Championships in Abu Dhabi are only three months away, and the Asian Grand Masters are next month at the Kodokan, but we have no official US Masters team.
Never the less, in an effort to support the proposed committee, in December 2012 I was asked to put together a preliminary template for a strategic growth plan for USA Masters Judo. Nothing came of it to my knowledge, but if any of you have the time and inclination to get involved in USA Judo Masters, the twelve discussion points below should get the ball rolling.
In light of the cycle in which judo championships and federations run, I proposed the development of a two-year and a four-year strategic growth plan. While we have some phenomenal raw talent in our US Masters community, it would take at least two years to build an internationally recognized and respected USA Judo Masters Team along with all the required support programs.
12 Step Program:
1. Establish a clear and concise mission statement for USA Masters. Who are we and what are we trying to achieve in the short and long term?
2. Establish the preliminary structure for USA Judo Masters program, to include: Administration, Marketing, Fundraising, Development, Coaching, and Competition. This should be a lean and efficient organization functioning with the support of USA Judo.
3. Form an interim 5- to 7-member USA Judo Masters Steering Committee, made up from individuals who are active in Masters competition, and with proven organizational and management skills that will benefit the organization. No dead weight or bench-warmers.
4. Leverage social media for guerilla marketing at no cost. Created a vibrant and active facebook page and web page to promote US Masters Judo and solicit interest from active Masters competitors and volunteers. Look to the European and British Masters/Veterans pages for inspiration.
5. Form a 3- to 5-member Team Development Sub-Committee to begin identifying and contacting the top Masters competitors in the US. Develop a USA Judo Masters Team made up of the top 3-5 male and female athletes in each category (based on national Masters points roster). Keep in mind that there are nine Veterans age categories within each IJF weight category, male and female, so there is little probability of ever fielding a 63-member male or female team.
6. As soon as practicable (within 6 months), schedule the first annual USA Judo Masters Conference & Training Camp, possibly at the Olympic Training Center. This should be a two-day round-table conference and social event, with on the mat Masters clinics, training sessions, and an informal shiai. It may even be necessary to run a west coast conference and an east coast conference just to ensure solid support and participation.
7. Develop a “Train with the Masters” series of training camps and clinics across the US, where the USA Masters Team can give back to cadet and junior judo development programs. Keep in mind that many Masters have decades of national and international championship judo and coaching experience.
8. Identify support mechanisms and resources for a USA Judo Masters Team to include: team management, team coaches, medical support, travel consultants, Masters uniforms, sweats, polo shirts, etc., for the most part mirroring current Senior uniforms.
9. Initiate fund raising/sponsorship for USA Judo Masters targeting major corporations, but in particular, corporations and industries that target more mature age demographics such as AARP, retirement services, estate planning, Ensure, Centrum Silver, senior health care insurance, etc. A smart corporation, with the right products or services, could build an entire advertising campaign around Masters Judo athletes.
10. Identify the national and international championships that will be officially attended by the USA Judo Masters Team and supported by USA Judo. US Masters members could compete in any and all Veterans championships, but the recommendation is to focus national team efforts and resources on no more than four events each year.
11. Define additional means and methods for USA Judo Masters to support and assist with US judo Junior and Senior development programs.
12. Don’t wait another year to begin building the USA Judo Masters program