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Baumgartner re-elected as USA Wrestling president at annual Board of Directors meeting held August 12-13 in Colorado Springs, Colo
by Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling
USA Wrestling leadership pose after the 2022 Board of Directors meeting.
Front row (l to r): First Vice President Kerry McCoy, President Bruce Baumgartner, Second Vice President Joan Fulp.
Second Row (l to r). Executive Director Rich Bender, Treasurer Don Reynolds, Secretary Van Stokes, Athlete Advisory Committee chairperson Veronica Carlson, Past President James Ravannack
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – USA Wrestling held its annual Board of Directors meeting at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort, August 12-13. Elections were held for five officer positions, as well as a number of at-large Board of Directors and committee positions.
Bruce Baumgartner of Edinboro, Pa., was unanimously re-elected as USA Wrestling’s president during the meeting.
The other officers elected by the Board of Directors were First Vice President Kerry McCoy of Coopersburg, Pa., Second Vice-President Joan Fulp of El Granada, Calif., Secretary Van Stokes of Clarksville, Pa. and Treasurer Don Reynolds of Frankfort, Ill.
Fulp was re-elected as Second Vice President of the organization. McCoy and Stokes served in different officer positions in the previous term, with McCoy previously serving as Secretary and Stokes as Treasurer. This is the first time that Reynolds has been elected as an officer with USA Wrestling.
The other election results were:
At-Large Members of Board of Directors: Jim Considine of Carol Stream, Ill., Pat Culp of Columbia City, Indiana, Joan Fulp of El Granada, Calif., Heather Lawrence of Athens, Ohio, Pat Ream of Wentzville, Mo., Van Stokes of Clarksville, Tenn.
Executive Committee: Zac Dominguez of Papillion, Neb.
Governance Committee: Will Cokeley of Lawrence, Kansas, Chris Kallai of Wadsworth, Ohio, Robby Smith of Concord, Calif.
After the election, Baumgartner thanked Mike Juby of Kansas for his dedicated service to the Board of Directors. Juby will be leaving the Board after many years as a leader at the Board level.
In his report to the Board of Directors, President Bruce Baumgartner commented on the many successes of the organization and the sport in the past year.
“I need to first thank our volunteers for all their effort. We have a volunteer Board. The work and effort our Board puts into the success of USA Wrestling is awesome. It is the volunteers who make us a great organization, and I really believe that we are. I want to thank the athletes and the AAC (Athletes Advisory Committee). I just spent some time at the USOPC Assembly representing USA Wrestling, and I can tell you that our AAC and our athletes, and USA Wrestling as a whole, is very well respected in the Olympic movement. A lot of that is due to the work the athletes do on the Board and volunteering on the committees, and that is greatly appreciated,” said Baumgartner.
“I want to recognize Rich Bender and his staff. Attending as many events and meetings as I do, we have an awesome staff. It is very well respected at the USOPC level. When I talk to the folks at the USOPC, they know a lot of our directors. Those relationships help USA Wrestling to be successful. I am very proud of this organization. USA Wrestling, through the work of its volunteers and staff, has navigated the COVID-19 pandemic better or as good as any organization in sports. It is the collective work that has made that happen. There is a lot of great work being done to not only be successful in 2022, but in 2024, 2028 and beyond. As we work as a group, we always need to look at being better, improving and growing,” he said.
Executive Director Rich Bender thanked Baumgartner for his leadership, as well as the Executive Committee for its dedicated efforts on behalf of the organization. He praised the state leaders who had attended the State Leaders Conference earlier in the week, calling them “the life blood of the organization.” He also thanked the husbands, wives and significant others who support those within the wrestling leadership. He called the USA Wrestling national staff “the best in the Olympic movement.” And he especially recognized the athletes, who he called “the inspiration for us.” He concluded with special praise for the effort of the organization and the sport for battling through the pandemic and moving the sport forward under extremely difficult challenges.
“COVID-19 should have pummeled our sport. We had no business being successful in an environment when social distancing was important. We all know that social distancing and wrestling is the antithesis of each other. You get penalized in our sport for doing it. Collectively, we figured out a way. We probably had the best year in the history of the organization this past year. That is a result of everyone leaning in and finding a way,” said Bender
In his Finance Report, Treasurer Van Stokes took a close look at the financial situation of the organization in the past, including during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as its current position as Fiscal Year 2022 comes to a close.
“If we had not had the management and leadership that we had, I would tell you that this organization would be like a boat in the sea, which had taken a major hit in the side. We would have listed heavily. Whether or not we would have been able to continue our voyage, would have been debatable. But because of the management and leadership provided, we weathered that storm,” he said. “The year-end forecast for the 31st of August, we are going to be in a strong position at the end of the year. Bottom line, we will be in a good financial position on September 1.”
Stokes then presented the proposed Fiscal Year 2023 budget to the Board of Directors, which had been approved by the Finance Committee after working closely with the national staff during meetings.
“Bottom line on FY2023 budget, it’s a balanced budget, slightly over $5,000 revenues over expenses. I am pleased to be able to present to you this version of who we are for operating USA Wrestling, starting on the 1st of September and running through August 31 of 2023. The budgetary bottom line is simple. It’s balanced. It represents stability. It represents where our programs are that we want to invest in, and it represents how we plan to operate this organization. Lastly, I will leave you with this. It is well-managed. If I could put one word in front of it, I would say ‘exceptionally’ well managed,” said Stokes.
The Board of Directors approved the Fiscal Year 2023 budget, which included $16,800,569 in revenue, $16,795,400 in expenditures and a revenue over expense of $5,169.
The Junior Olympic Wrestling Committee Report was presented by Steven Thorpe, chairperson of the National Council of State Chairpersons. The document had been finalized during the State Leaders Conference held at the Cheyenne Mountain Conference Center from August 10-12. The Board of Directors approved the document as presented by Thorpe, which is available here https://content.themat.com/forms/JOWCBoardReport.pdf and included these four items:
• State teams at the USMC Junior and 16U Nationals shall be limited to four athletes per age per style per weight class for females, which will match the requirement for males. In the past, females did not have a limit on the state team roster size.
• In regard to automatic qualifiers for the USMC Junior and 16U Nationals, a new category was added: “Previous year age-level World Team member (must be in the same style).”
• Headgear is recommended for athletes in the Junior age-group and below, but the previous requirement for all 14U and younger age divisions to wear headgear at Regional and National Championships was eliminated.
• For the USMC Junior and 16U Nationals, there was a geographical exception on the roster limit for Hawaii and Alaska. The limit shall not exceed four athletes per weight classes plus two additional wrestlers, however the wrestlers can be at any weight class.
The meeting included additional reports from the USA Wrestling national staff, USA Wrestling committees and important constituent groups.
Athlete Advisory Committee chairperson Veronica Carlson updated the Board on the recent activities and successes of the committee and introduced the athletes who served USA Wrestling on its Board of Directors. She noted that the first Athlete Leader of the Year award had been presented, with John Stefanowicz and herself receiving the award, as voted by the Executive Committee. She explained the process in which the Athlete Advisory Committee had filled the new USOPC requirement of having 33.3% of all USA Wrestling committees populated by athletes. Carlson discussed future initiatives, including the athlete life cycle as well as expanded integration of athletes on the grassroots levels.
Bruce Baumgartner praised AAC and the current USA Wrestling athletes for their involvement and leadership. “I would like to thank the athletes for all of their time, effort and energy. We are fortunate to have the athletes that we have in USA Wrestling today,” he said.
Van Stokes presented a report from the Long Range Planning Committee, with an extensive review of the in-person meeting held at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum in Colorado Springs, Colo., June 28-29, which included 21 individuals from the committee, staff and guests. He praised the leadership of USOPC staff Avery Wilson, Dave Patterson and Katie Grunik, who moderated the meeting. He reported the committee decided to keep the five strategic priorities as included in the most recent Long Range Plan, but are now updating and refreshing the specific areas of focus under each priority. A new Long Range Plan, which will run through the 2028 year, will move forward from the first draft developed in Colorado Springs, with the national staff working with the committee to develop specific markers and an operational plan.
Among the staff reports presented was the National Teams Report, presented by Cody Bickley, Director of National Teams High Performance. Bickley provided extensive details about the 2021 year, in which USA Wrestling won a record 52 World medals at all age levels. He noted some additional milestones, including the record 15 Senior World medals won by Team USA at the 2021 World Championships in Oslo, Norway. He noted the nine Olympic medals won by the United States at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which was the best medal performance except the 1904 Olympics (all USA entries) and the boycotted 1984 Olympics. Bickley also explained that the USA won the U17 and U20 Women’s World Championships in 2021, the first time USA Wrestling had won either event. On the individual level, Adeline Gray became the first U.S. wrestler to win six Senior World titles; Helen Maroulis became the first U.S. woman to win two Olympic wrestling medals and Jordan Burroughs became the first U.S. male wrestler to win five Senior World titles. Bickley also explained the preparation plan for each of the three U.S. Senior World Teams leading up to the World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia in September.
In the State, Membership and IT Report, State Services Director Tony Black noted that USA Wrestling had surpassed 247,000 members for the 2021-22 membership season, the second highest total of all time, and nearly 98% percent of the highest year ever in 2018-19. Director of Application Development Dave Mathews explained many details of the new features of the USA Wrestling membership system, and discussed the focus on data collection and analysis within USA Wrestling. Other staff reports came from Laura Peeters, General Counsel/Director of Safe Sport and Compliance as well as Manager of National Events Christina Hargrove.
Highlights from the Constituent Group reports included:
• John Stefanowicz reported that the Armed Forces Wrestling Championships, which were not held in 2021 and 2022 due to the pandemic, would return in February of 2023.
• In the National Wrestling Coaches Association Report, Mike Moyer explained the structure and growth of the Wrestlers In Business Network. He also gave information to Board members about the strengths of wrestling as a sport on the college level, as well as the current environment of changes at the NCAA level.
• In the National Wrestling Hall of Fame report, Lee Roy Smith reported on the 45th induction ceremony in June 2022, which featured, for the first time, two women Distinguished Members inducted in the same year (Clarissa Chun, Sara McMann). Smith also reported that the National Wrestling Hall of Fame would conduct a $5 million Endowment Campaign in 2026, which is the 50th anniversary of the Hall of Fame.
• Liz Homrig of the National Junior College Athletics Association (NJCAA) reported that the organization would hold a women’s wrestling competition for the first time alongside its Men’s Wrestling National Championships in 2023 in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
• Sally Roberts of Wrestle Like A Girl (WLAG) explained the activities of the organization, which are run from offices in Washington, D.C. and Colorado Springs, Colo. Roberts noted that on September 21, WLAG will host a Congressional Wrestling Caucus Breakfast in Washington, D.C., and will bring girl wrestlers from the 14 states that have not sanctioned girls high school wrestling to meet with their elected officials. She also reported that the 2023 Wrestle Like A Girl Gala would be held at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.