SportsEvents Magazine

JAN 2018

SportsEvents is edited for those who plan tournaments or other sports events.

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January 2018 20 www.sportseventsmagazine.com SPECIAL FEATURE: Awards & Recognition Issue After serving 42 years in public education in Ohio as a teacher and coach of varsity football, track, wrestling and girls' gymnastics coupled with just as many years as a volunteer with local youth programs, Dr. Roger J. Goudy's involve- ment and leadership with the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) as its President /CEO was a natural progression. "It started with gymnastics and that's how I got into AAU [as a coach]. I was concerned about providing opportunities for girls and then it expanded [into more administrative roles] with volleyball and other sports," Dr. Goudy said. He has served as chairman of AAU National Volleyball program for more than 20 years and has grown volleyball to the second largest pro- gram of AAU's 41 licensed sports. "We've grown leaps and bounds over the years, not just with volleyball and gymnastics, but in other sports as well." In 2012, the Guinness Book of World Records recognized the AAU Girls' Junior National Vol- leyball Championships as the largest volleyball event in the world and the event has continued to grow with more than 35,000 competitors in 2017. Today, the annual event held at the at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort and the Orange County Conven- tion Center in Orlando, Fla., attracts teams and athletes from around the world with more than 2,400 teams competing in 2017, including an in- ternational division with teams from Brazil, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Slovenia and Mexico. "We started with 123 teams during the event's first year in Orlando. In 20 years, that number has grown to 2,438 teams." he said. Dr. Goudy credits strong teamwork for AAU's success. "There are a lot of good people who dedicate their lives to youth sports and young athletes. We are making this tournament more of an event than a national championship." Dr. Goudy, a two-time winner of the Disney Sports National Volunteer of the Year Award, is proud of the influence that AAU has on children and their families. "Our events bring people to Orlando for more than just the championship. Over the past five or six years we've enhanced the event by offering water park parties at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon Water Park; we've allowed athletes and their guests an opportunity to make a difference in the community through Feeding Children Every- where, where our participants have packed more than 120,000 meals for underprivileged children; and we've provided younger brothers and sisters an area to learn and develop their skills through our AAU Proud program. People come not just for volleyball, but they see this as a family event. What better destination to bring young people together than Disney? When Disney closes Disney's Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, the entire park is filled with nothing but volleyball players and their families. With 100 to 150 teams, it's just crazy and it's crazy how big we have grown." With more than 41 sports now, Dr. Goudy said his commitment is to grow awareness and participation in the 130-year-old multi-sport organization. "Volleyball is growing and that is exciting. But the challenge I accepted when I was elected president three years ago was to grow all of our sports at the national level," he said. "We are working hard to leverage the fact that we are one of very few multi-sport organizations in the country. We can bring mul- tiple sports together, as we do for our annual AAU Junior Olympic Games, to provide a great deal of exposure for sports like pickleball or futsal." Dr. Goudy said hosting athletic events in convention centers like the one in Orlando allows athletes from multiple different sports to interact with one another. Since 2016, the World Sport Stacking Association has held an educational showcase at the AAU Girls' Junior National Volleyball Championships. "By being in the same building together, kids get an opportunity to watch other sports and decide whether there is something else they would like to try. That's the beauty of the AAU – With a single membership of $14, young athletes are able to compete in one or all sports if they want. Sports come in many different forms and kids should be exposed to a variety of different programs. Keeping the cost low at $14 and providing accident coverage as a secondary insurance policy is one way we make sure kids are protected and able to play." Providing exposure to a variety of sports is one of the goals, but Dr. Goudy said it is equally important for AAU to play a role in developing the whole child – athletically, academically and socially – which the AAU has done through the AAU Cares program. "It's amazing to see kids and their families coming together to leave something for others," he said. "We've given bikes to kids in New York and track shoes at track meets to less fortunate children. We packed meals for 40,000 people at the 2016 Volleyball Nationals for Orlando families and another 80,000 meals this past year with two and three waves of kids, parents, coaches and others coming together. It was really touching and we are developing AAU Cares to expand our reach and impact." In 2017 alone, AAU Cares raised more than $4,000 on-site through the Kids Helping Kids Dr. Roger J. Goudy President/CEO Amateur Athletic Union

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