My apologies today for no Running Column this week. Last Sunday I began to come down with what turned out to be a “Super Cold of the Worst Kind”. I was sick and mostly in bed all week. Submission deadline for the newspaper is Friday at 5:00 p.m. There was no way I could do that.
I am on pills and potions now and have started to improve. My column, if I had been able to create one would have been about the Pre-Game four miler on Sunday, February 2nd. The folks at Super Hero Racing do a good job of putting on the race and it looks like a lot of fun.
BTW Last week’s column had a typo that placed the Pre-Game 4 Miler (formerly the Super Sunday 4 Miler) on February 1st when in fact it is on Sunday the 2nd. My sports editor at the Daily Record spotted the inconsistency but was unable to reach me on Saturday to check it.
Where was I? At the USATF New Jersey Awards Banquet. I was presenting the Goodspeed Award that evening. It’s the highest award that we give and is only given when we have a suitable candidate whose service to the association has been long term and above and beyond the expected. Here is what I said:
GOODSPEED AWARD PRESENTATION
In 2003 we were looking for a new Managing Director. As the then President, I was part of the search committee. We had posted the job at several locations and received some resumes. It was not like it is now with so much more done on the internet.
One applicant was a member of my running club. It was I who had suggested that she apply for the position. Since I did not want to influence the search committee I remained quiet while she was being interviewed. It gave me a “fly on the wall” perspective. After the interview, she was thanked for coming in and escorted to the door.
There was silence in the room for several seconds as the committee members looked at each other and then the room erupted.
“Do you think she will come to work for us?” Will she accept our offer?”
“Can we offer her enough?”
At the time our budget was pretty low so it was a valid concern. The committee didn’t breathe their collective sigh of relief until we heard back. “Yes, she said. She will work for us”
What she didn’t say was that “there’s going to be a lot of changes here.” I won’t say she was a tornado, but once the dust had settled, she had pretty much swept the office clean - metaphorically, of course.
The management of the office had evolved with no plan. It needed a real makeover, from the computer system, the phone system, and the way sanctions were being handled. She saw inefficiencies and wasteful spending and she set about changing that.
First thing on her agenda was to move the operation out of Highland Park to Boonton. Yes this was a convenience for her, but it also put a yoke around her neck. Most people can turn off the light where they work and go home for the day.
When your work place is in your home you really don’t turn off the light and shut down. You carry it with you with late night emails and phone calls and striking one more thing off your To Do list.
When she took over as Managing Director the summer of 2003, the association had a member base of about 3,500. We had 70 clubs and had sanctioned just over 200 events.
At the end of 2013, ten years after her service began we had a membership that is second to only one other association at over 6,500. We have over 100 member clubs and our sanctions have doubled to over 400. We are comfortably solvent.
To say that our association has grown is an understatement. We’ve hosted national long distance running championships, regional meets, Level One coaching schools and youth zonal meets. For them all she was at the helm.
She has served five Presidents and each one could tell you that she helped them to accomplish their duties and sometimes she helped to keep them out of trouble.
And it hasn’t always been easy. Something that she knew instinctively was that the association had to be managed within the rules. A Managing Director, like the president and the officers must remain neutral even in the face of opposition. So though some may have disagreed with her they knew that she was looking at the big picture and what was right for the association.
At the national level she has been asked to serve on committees and is currently on the executive committee for Masters Long Distance Running. Last year she was given the President’s Award at the national convention for her service.
This award we are presenting tonight is given to those who have served the association in the footsteps of Joe and Mary Goodspeed. They were the ultimate volunteers in the early days of this association. This year we are presenting the Goodspeed Award to someone who has worked not as a volunteer. She was hired to be our Managing Director and after ten years with us she has returned to the private sector working in her specialty.
But her devotion to the association and to what she has built in those ten years has kept her with us a little longer as a consultant, as we transition to an organization without her. She is here tonight helping this event to run as smoothly as before.
We know that in her heart she will never leave USATF, and we will never forget her and I, along with all those who she has served thank her.
Please tell her how much you thank her.
Our Goodspeed Award winner, Pam Fales!
And they did show her how much they appreciated her. She received a standing ovation and was presented with a bouquet of flowers by board member and sports chair Claire Tafelski, in addition to the Goodspeed Award plaque.