I begin with belated congratulations to all the competitors of the recent Team Trials. Until today, I had heard nothing but kudos for the teams and the competitors. Many, referees, coaches, athletes have commented on the level of competition and the way so many athletes stepped up to the plate and took their best swings. I have read many comments about the quality of winners at the event.
I had not been home from my little vacation but a few hours when the rumblings began. If correct, I tend to agree with the coach who complained that the Juniors should have been using the equipment that they will use at the competition to give our team the best edge.
Then the hammer. No matter what you think, on the day of the competition, you congratulate the team. You support the teams selected because that is our culture. The Executive Director stands up and tells the team and coaches and competitors how appreciated you are by our organization and its members.
I am admittedly at a loss for words here. I struggled all afternoon after getting verification of the incident. I believe I used a few "No Way's" and "Really?" and still I sit in disbelief.
It seems that the Executive Director decided to hold a little referee meeting on the floor while coaches were still milling and the Junior Team was meeting with staff and clean up was well engaged. Ok - I can go with that, especially if the meeting is to congratulation the crew on a job well done, maybe handle a few small issues.
One would also assume if the discussion were something requiring more privacy a better place could be found then on the floor of the event, even after the event. You know what they say about assuming.
One would think that someone would not be addressing the elite referee corps regarding how they failed at their mission to produce the best team. (caveat - for any parent or junior reading this - the referees and the coaches and everyone I know think you did a wonderful job).
Disclaimer - this is a paraphrase and not to be considered a quote:
It seems the top USAT Staffer thinks that the coaches are awful. He thinks the athletes are awful. He thinks no one on the teams will ever win the Olympics. Reportedly he has decided to bring in new coaches and new competitors - TALLER competitors! Taller competitors are better at TKD - don't you know?
Amazing how someone involved with the sport for about 6 months doesn't know what he doesn't know. Seems he doesn't know not to hold a conversation of this type out in the open where passing coaches can hear. He doesn't know this is not an appropriate conversation to have after selecting a team with the team still on the floor. One would think that staff would be really nice to coaches, especially coaches who bring athletes to events and sign up members - last I looked membership is down.
Admittedly, taller athletes have an advantage - but a) there are shorter people who are fast, who are talented etc. b) exactly how are you going to grow taller athletes and c) what are you going to do with the ones who are currently members of the organization and like to believe their support is appreciated?
Apparently a coach overheard it all as he walked by. He was so enraged that he had to be restrained from doing bodily harm to the staffer. I have not posted the coach's name and will not do so. I also will not post the name of the coach who restrained him. However, I have verified definitely this happened. I have contacted one of the two. No question.
The story has flown through the coaching ranks and there are a lot of very upset coaches. I personally think the entire incident was completely avoidable. I think it shows lack of thought and lack of leadership. It also demonstrates an extreme lack of knowledge of the culture of this sport. Even David Askinas realized that the coaches determine the membership. Upset the coaches and club owners and see your membership drop. In recent years the membership has already dropped.
No one would disagree that this organization has some challenges. No one would disagree that there is not room to grow and to change. However, one thing those outside do not appreciate is that while we may fight among ourselves, have our disagreements, even have some really nasty disagreements, we are united in our love of the Sport and our athletes.
I am so at a loss for words. I agree, the organization needs more referee training. I agree, the coaching program needs more boosting and frankly recruitment of female coaches. We are not perfect, but we are not bottom of the barrel so horrendous that someone who has no personal experience with the sport and limited time with the actual sport has to come in and trash (my word) our coaches and our athletes and our referees. Maybe some of the WTF grandmasters gave him some private lessons at the WTF Summit? Maybe they forgot the part about it being important to be seen during the event on the floor, actually watching what is happening.
I know that this has been reported to some of the BOD members. I wonder, what if anything the BOD intends to do about this. If nothing else, hold your meetings privately if you are going to lambast our working members. Obviously no consideration was given to the fact that others besides the intended audience could hear. I am also told the referees to whom this was addressed sat in stunned silence.
Where do we go from here? I am hoping the Junior team knows that the TKD community knows you deserve your spots. I don't want anyone to feel demoralized by a staffer who doesn't know what he doesn't know. I would like to feel that the BOD will at the barest minimum review this situation. However, I am not holding my breath.