SportsEvents Magazine

AUG 2018

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Page 44 of 67 August 2018 45 t SPORT Report Also, to help athletes on the elite level, last year USATF started a Talent Protec- tion Program. It's designed for athletes coming out of college who aren't yet earning enough money at the professional level to help keep them in the sport. Es- sentially, it helps fund the athletes so they can continue developing and training. "If an athlete graduates college and doesn't have success in the sport right away as a professional, it could be likely that they quit the sport," Geer said. "This program helps support them financially so that we don't lose their talent. It helps give them time to develop. And it's working: two athletes in the program actually won world championship medals for us last year." On the masters' level (age 40 and over), the organization is also going out of its way to improve offerings. In 2017, USATF began outfitting masters-level athletes in official Olympic team gear when they compete on the international level. "It sounds small but it's a huge deal to these athletes to be wearing the same uniform as current Olympic athletes," Geer said. "Small details like this really make a difference." Also making a difference is that on the youth level, The Hershey Compa- ny joined as a sponsor for the Junior Olympic Track and Field Champion- ships in 2017. That's USATF's single biggest meet with approximately 10,000 youth athletes participating. The Her- shey sponsorship has enabled USATF to provide many special takeaways for the kids when they compete. "Whether it's a backpack, a pair of sunglasses or a rally towel, small things give an added level of excitement to the kids to participate," Geer said. "Again, those small details really go a long way in getting people to engage with the organization and the sports. And that's what we are always looking to do: find ways to improve our events and increase participation with the sports." n 3 0 0 M I L E S 2 0 0 M I L E S 1 0 0 M I L E S DOWNLOAD THE JUST MINUTES FROM PHILLY CONTACT US GET DETAILS ON EVENT FUNDING FOR NEW BUSINESS 20+ TOURNAMENTTREADY FACILITIES 1600 RESTAURANTS VALLEY FORGE PLAYBOOK APP A V A I L A B L E N O W SPORTS.VALLEYFORGE.ORG #MAKEITMONTCO NAIA/Jean Gale Bailey Dell of Northwest Christian University.

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